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Applying for a job

You just graduated from university and are the proud owner of an undergraduate degree? Pumped up with motivation to get your career started? The labour market provides a wide range of job opportunities for you. Traineeships, internships or entry-level positions are a great chance to start your career. However, the abundance of choices might overwhelm you. Whatever you decide to do, submitting a winning application is crucial for finding employment.

Basically, a job application consists of a cover letter, or letter of application, and a curriculum vitae (CV), also known as a résumé in North America. Keep in mind: You never get a second chance for making a first impression. That is why your application has to be top quality in terms of both appearance and content. All in all, your application should make a strong case for you and capture your future employer´s attention.

Applying for a job: Do your research

In order to get a job you need to attract the attention of employers by standing out from the crowd of applicants. Consequently, an uninspired application will be likely to fail. It is recommendable to prepare yourself well for the application process. For example, the company website is a good way to inform yourself about the company´s mission and vision. In this way you will get a first idea of what the company is looking for. Media articles might also be a good source to consult for further information about the firm. Moreover, employer review portals, where employees or former employees give anonymous assessments of employers, are very common nowadays. However, you should take every review with a pinch of salt. Making inquiries about a company has become quite easy and not too time-consuming. Therefore, you should not take those feedback posts too seriously.

Electronic or paper?

Some companies ask their applicants to send hardcopy applications by mail, whereas others prefer electronic applications. One reason could be that some companies use modern application databases whereas others still use the more old-fashioned methods. The way an organization wants applications to be submitted can be a first indicator of the company’s corporate culture. No matter how you are supposed to apply—via email, online application portals or by postal mail—always follow the company’s instructions, as failing to comply with their requirements can lead to a negative answer.

Application forms

An application form helps the employer to narrow down the choice of applicants. Therefore, it is best to take your time filling in the application form. As it counts as a full application, make sure you know what the organization is looking for. If you are able to address their needs by highlighting the skills and experiences they ask for you are already one step ahead of other applicants. Make sure you have completed all mandatory fields. Also check your spelling before clicking the send button.

The cover letter

The cover letter is meant to give the employer a brief glance of your qualifications. The most basic no-no in a cover letter (and all other application documents, for that matter) is spelling and grammatical errors. Such errors are barely tolerated and may cause your application to be rejected right away. The cover letter serves to highlight your academic and professional performance so far. It is your opportunity to emphasize the skills that perfectly meet the requirements of the advertised job. Do not hide your achievements, but do not exaggerate either. Most importantly, give persuasive arguments why you are the right candidate for the job and what you could do to help the company.

The CV

The curriculum vitae (maximum two pages) is one of the most important parts of your application. HR managers can quickly review your career until now. Provide precise details. And keep in mind that the formal requirements of a CV differ from country to country. For example, some list the most recent activities first, while others begin with oldest. Furthermore, attaching a photo of yourself to the application is common in some countries, whereas employers in others may flat-out reject CVs with photos to avoid charges of discrimination. Please find out beforehand what the company expects. If nothing is mentioned, adapt to the regional standard.

The interview

If all goes well, you will receive an e-mail or phone call from your prospective employer, inviting you for a job interview. Keep calm. Prepare yourself carefully. Learn as much as you can about the company. What are their goals, mission and visions? Where do they operate and what is their current economic situation? It is important to show that you are interested; hence asking questions is always a good idea. But questions should always be well informed and should not come across as artificial or forced. Be self-confident without being arrogant. Besides, your personal appearance is essential as well. It is not always necessary to dress up. Get an idea of the organization to better understand what might be an appropriate dress code. Finally, be on time! Punctuality is a crucial thing if you don’t want to give a false impression.

Rejected?

Rejections often cause negative feelings. But do not take rejections too personally. You didn’t necessarily get rejected due to your personality. A different applicant might just be a slightly better fit for the established requirements. No reason to hang your head. Continue your application process. You will succeed eventually.

To cut a long story short…

To be successful in the application process several aspects are important. First, do extensive research on the company you are applying at. Second, create an individual application that sets you apart from other applicants. Third, carefully check your wording and grammar. Fourth, be self-confident throughout the whole process. And finally, good luck!

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