How To Read A Job Listing To Make A Solid Application
September 14, 2021
Have you seen your dream graduate job advertised and are now wondering what you can do to make a strong application?
The answer is simple: read the job listing. It sounds obvious, but you would be surprised by how many people skip over the small print. This is a mistake, because, generally speaking, all the information you need to make a solid graduate job application will be contained within the listing.
There are some obvious things to look out for. For example, you wouldn’t apply for a job in London if you have no intention of moving there. But past that, attention to detail is key, and you’ll need to read the fine print to check you don’t miss anything important.
Not sure where to start? Here’s everything to look out for when examining a graduate job listing.
1. Match up your job title
First things first, look at the job title and work out how you can phrase your current or previous job titles to make them as relevant as possible.
For example, if you’re applying for a graduate job as a ‘marketing assistant’ and you have relevant experience from helping out with your Student Union’s social media accounts, call yourself a ‘marketing assistant intern’ to match the specific language of the job listing.
2. Find out who the hiring manager is
This won’t be on every job listing, but if you see the name and email address of the hiring manager in charge of recruiting for the position, you should be sure to address your cover letter to them.
Not only does this show initiative and attention to detail, but it also makes you more memorable, as you can guarantee that only a small number of applicants will go the extra mile by personalising the cover letter. This is by far the easiest and most effective way to make a good first impression before the recruiter even reads your CV.
3. Check the dates and deadlines
You should obviously look at the deadline for applications, but something you should also consider is the date the job listing was posted.
If you notice the job has only just been posted within the last few days, get your application in as soon as possible. Not only does it show employers that you’re well-prepared and are serious about finding a job, but it also gives you a much better chance of success. By applying as early as possible, you can get ahead of the competition and potentially be invited to interview earlier.
4. Follow any special application instructions
Another thing to look out for is that in some job listings, especially those expecting hundreds or even thousands of applicants, you’re asked to submit very specific documents, like a cover letter, CV, three samples of your work and two references.
If you don’t read the job listing properly and fail to submit the right things, your CV will automatically be taken off the pile. The same goes for if the listing asks you to state your availability for an interview or to indicate your salary expectations - always follow any instructions carefully.
Alternatively, be aware that some listings may ask you to include a random word or phrase, like “bubblegum,” in your cover letter to prove you read the full job description.
5. Analyse the required experience and qualifications
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when reading through the required skills, knowledge and qualifications for a vacancy, but don’t worry, because you don’t need to exactly match what they’re looking for to be successful.
As a general rule of thumb, you should apply for a job if you’re capable of around 80% of the duties and skills listed. Bear in mind that these will often be written in order of importance, so be sure to highlight your ability to perform the most important duties in your application.
6. Look carefully at the desirable skills
It’s no secret that today’s job market is really competitive, so as an international student you need to use your unique skills to your advantage and make yourself stand out. Your communication and teamwork skills, adaptability, confidence and knowledge of other cultures and languages can all be really useful added extras to help you secure a graduate job.
In most job listings there will be a section dedicated to desirable hard and soft skills. Look at these carefully and include the same keywords in your application, remembering to always try and describe specific times when you demonstrated these skills.
Don’t be afraid to show off in your CV and cover letters. Employers read through so many applications, so make yourself memorable. Remember - they are always keen to see applicants with different experiences and transferable skills.
7. Adopt the company’s brand voice
This won’t be relevant for all jobs, but if you’re applying for a job in creative industries such as marketing or journalism, you should take the opportunity to make your application as memorable as possible by showing you already have a good idea of the brand’s voice and mission.
Analyse the job listing carefully and try to match your tone of voice, fonts, colours and writing style to prove that you’ve put the time in to research and personalise your application. If nothing else it will give you something interesting to talk about in your interview!
8. Understand the visa sponsorship criteria
Before taking on any jobs, volunteering or internships it is really important to check that your visa status will allow you to work in the UK.
In order to apply for most work visas, you will need to receive a job offer with sponsorship from an eligible UK employer first, so be sure to check the job listing for their sponsorship policies. If you can’t find the information on the listing, get in contact with the hiring manager.
As well as an appropriate visa, you will also need a National Insurance (NI) number, a unique number used by HM Revenue and Customs and the DWP to ensure you pay the right amount of tax during your time in the UK.
At Student Circus, we’re here to help international students secure their dream jobs in the UK. Find out more, including how we can help you, by clicking here.
Written by Talya