Career planning is the first step of any job search – it will help you determine the job you want to do and how to go about securing it. Make sure you've read the career planning page.
When you've finished researching potential jobs and employers, it's time to start searching and looking for jobs you might want to apply for. Look at career directories and employers in fields that interest you and also check out our jobs page. Attend careers events which interest you, where you will meet recruiting employers from lots of different sectors.
There are two key things to a successful job search:
Application forms are being used much more widely as this allows employers to see information in the same format – some employers feel that this makes shortlisting a much smoother and fairer process. Application forms and CVs are two totally different documents as application forms require you to enter certain information and failure to do so may mean you are not considered for the role, however it is you who decides what information you want to present on your CV.
It is a well-known fact that application forms take time and there is no getting away from this! There are no hard and fast rules about how long you should spend completing an application form but the key is not to rush it and to make sure you are aware of the closing date as soon as you see the vacancy. Remember it is the quality of your application and not just how many you send off!
A covering letter is traditionally a letter sent in the post to employers, accompanied by your CV to explain your suitability for the role. Nowadays, cover letters are in email format (but should be no less formal and professional).
It's your first point of contact with a potential employer, and what you say should make an impact and enable you to stand out from others. Employers use cover letters to test for all sorts of things including your writing style, your skills, your suitability for the job and your ability to follow instructions (if an employer asks for a certain amount of words or for you to answer a specific question, make sure you do).
Always remember that the covering letter is there to sell you to the employer – it needs to show clearly and succinctly why you want the job, what you have to offer and why the employer should read on.
A CV is a selling tool – used to sell you. It's your first chance to 'stand out' to an employer and make sure you get shortlisted. It's important to get it right first time, every time. One size does not fit all when it comes to your CV – it should be an ever-changing document that is modified for each job you apply for, to ensure it is relevant.
CVs are great because the information included in them is dictated by you. Although there are really important elements that must be included, this does mean you can highlight your best assets and achievements in the way you want to.
Although CVs are still used for a lot of recruitment, many employers now have moved onto use application forms to assess candidates.
The interview is the 'make or break' part of any recruitment process. It is a two-way process and gives the interviewer the chance to assess if you match the requirements of the job. It is also your chance to meet at least one person from the organisation and assess them – is the organisation a good match for what you want?
You may have various interview elements separately or have one interview that contains all of these elements. This means you need to make sure you have properly researched and prepared for the interview beforehand.
You may be interviewed by one person or by a panel. If faced with a panel, make the effort to speak to, and make eye contact with, everyone on the panel.
An assessment (or selection) centre is a selection method involving a number of exercises designed to assess the full range of skills needed to carry out a job.
Interviews on their own have a relatively low success rate in predicting how successful applicants will be in a job. However, if combined with other selection exercises, either singly or as part of an assessment centre, the likelihood of making a successful hire increases considerably. This is why the popularity of assessment centres among graduate recruiters has increased during the past few years.
Kingston University students can visit the My Kingston intranet site (KU login required) for more information.