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10 Things You Need to Know When Applying for Jobs

Curriculum vitae and pen
Make sure your CV targets the actual job you're applying for

One of the most common errors that people make when applying for jobs is, having revamped their CV - perhaps even spent money on someone like me to do the legwork - just sending the same document off to hundreds of different postings.

Sure, it’s possible that you’ll get lucky, that the person they’re looking for is exactly what it says on your CV. For entry level jobs, where perhaps the job specifications are a little broader, this is even more likely to be the case.

But for that perfect position, the one that’s got your name written on the contract, you need to get a lot smarter with your applications.

So, when you’re applying for a job, here are ten things you need to remember.

1. There are plenty of jobs

Firstly, there isn’t a shortage of jobs about. In December 2022 there were 1.1 million job vacancies in the UK. As I write, there are 48,000 jobs advertised in the UAE alone on So while it may take a little while to find that perfect post, there are plenty of roles out there in the meantime.

2. Not all jobs are on the internet.

70% of jobs are never published publicly. To put that into perspective, that means that more than 700,000 jobs at the end of the last calendar year in the UK were not to be found on any jobs site or LinkedIn. Some of them are internal, of course, but the “who you know” adage has never been more true. Effective networking is vital if you want to open up as many doorways as possible.

Professionals networking over coffee
There's nothing like a good mingle

3. Networking works.

Which brings us to social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter - and all the variations - are fantastic platforms for sharing holiday photos, making people jealous of the restaurant you’re at, or for venting your frustrations from the safety of your own mobile. But they’re also great ways to connect and communicate with people in the same field as you - or a field you want to get into. Think, therefore, about what you’re posting and how others might perceive it, whether that be shared jokes and memes or compromising photographs or politically-charged comments. Don’t let your frustrations at government policy prevent you from getting the interview you were desperate for! Likewise, make use of LinkedIn to easily follow and comment on people and companies in your industry. Headhunters are out there and your profile, if written well (blog to follow!) will get noticed.

Man researching in library
Do your research

4. Do your research.

The first thing to do is spend some time actually researching the company and role you’re applying for. Google is a starting point but your new LinkedIn contacts are a first hand source of inside information and honest opinions about what it’s really like to work there. So ask them! A lack of response in itself will tell you plenty.

5. One size does not fit all.

Your CV should be different for every job for which you apply. Not necessarily vastly different, but bespoke to the job specification and see which words and phrases are used regularly, then alter the language in your CV to match them.

6. Beat the system.

ATS - Applicant Tracking Software - will be looking for these key phrases, so if yours contains them then you’ve almost guaranteed getting over step one of the process. If you haven’t put them in, you’ve wasted an application. Likewise, some older versions of ATS can’t read certain fonts, PDFs or text boxes. Clear, simple fonts, no smaller than size 11, on a Microsoft Word document will get you far.

7. Avoid wastage.

As well as what you do need in your CV, of course, there are plenty of things that you don’t. Your full address, date of birth, marital status and (most of the time) photograph aren’t required. Nor are the details of references (they’ll ask for them if they want them.) And writing ‘References available on request’ is another waste of a line - you’re hardly going to refuse them if they ask, are you?

Unless you’re just starting out, straight from school or university, you also don’t need to include your hobbies and interests. Writing that you enjoy travelling or eating out means that your application now puts you on a level with around five billion other people. Think about what’s specifically needed for this role (specifically - specification) because if it isn’t going to help you do the job better, the employer probably at this stage isn’t interested.

8. Mind the gap.

Address any gaps in your CV. If you took time out to start a family, or were looking for work for six months, write that! It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Covid in particular impacted many millions of people economically and in terms of their careers in recent years, with many being furloughed, losing their jobs or focusing on homeschooling. What that means is that, as well as many more people now working - and being open to the idea of their employees working - remotely, employers are more accepting of reasons to be out of work. It’s more a fact of life than ever. Trying to hide the fact just makes it seem as though you’re trying to cover something else up, though…

9. To the letter.

Then there’s your cover letter. It can be as well-written and use as many fancy words as you like, but if it’s not written to meet the criteria of the actual job you’re applying for, then forget it.

Your letter, of course, also has to explain why you want to work for them in particular, and here’s where your research comes into play. How do the company values align with your own, and how have you demonstrated that you’re ‘courageous’ or ‘curious’? Are you going to be applying for a job at an organisation with 30,000 employees for that ‘uniquely family feel only found in small companies’?

10. Get it right.

And finally, proofread. Even better, get someone else to do it for you. (Don’t ask too many people as you’ll get countless opinions that will just serve to confuse you and instil doubt.) You will make mistakes, whether it’s a typo, grammatical error or your brain’s simply become frazzled. Check what you’ve written, not what you think you’ve written.

So there you go. Ten tips to hopefully make the job application process somewhat less of a lottery and give you an even better chance of landing that dream position. And if you want any more help along the way, drop me a line at

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