Courtesy of the National Careers Service
So, you’ve seen a job or a course that you really want to apply for. A good CV and expert interview skills can help you get where you want to be. Still, thinking about them can be scary! Here are a few key tips to help you prepare.
Start with a great CV
A CV is a list of facts about you. It aims to show you in a positive way and make employers want to hire you. It should be short (no more than two sides of A4 paper). It’s often the first time an employer hears about you, so it should really make them want to meet you. It’s a good idea to spend time getting your CV just right for every application you make.
A CV should include:
• your name and contact details
• education and qualifications
• work experience (including part time jobs or voluntary work)
• interests and activities that show your transferable skills
• a section for referees.
Referees are people who can confirm your work experience or talk about your character. You don’t need to put all of their contact details. If you don’t have room, you could just write ‘references available on request.’
You can get more advice about writing a CV on the National Careers Service website. You can also use the CV Builder to help create your CV.
What are ‘transferable skills’?
You might be looking to apply for something totally different from what you do now. You might think that the experience and skills you have are not relevant to the new opportunity. However, you learn and develop skills in everything you do. Transferable skills are skills that you use in one area (e.g. a job), but that can be really useful in a completely different area. Examples of transferable skills are being able to:
• work in a team
• communicate well
• care for others
• manage your time well
• make decisions
• solve problems.
When you apply for a job or training, the employer might ask about your experience. Don’t worry if you’ve never had a job – you can develop transferable skills in many ways. This could be through activities in school or your home life. For example, you may have:
• helped look after family members
• worked on a project that had a deadline
• had responsibility at school – maybe you have been a prefect or been trusted with a task for a teacher?
• played a sport where you’ve been part of a team.
Remember – don’t just list what you’ve done; explain the skills that you used to do these things!
It’s natural to feel nervous when going to an interview. Remember that interviews are a great time to tell people about your skills. It’s your chance to make your CV come to life and prove you’re the person they want.
Here are some tips for interview preparation:
Find out about the organisation. Who are they? What do they do? The more you know, the more interested you’ll sound.
Read over the job/course description. Think about the skills they want and examples of how you’ve used these skills in the past.
Read over your application form or CV. Be ready to answer questions about the information on there.
Try some practice questions. Think about what they might ask you. Prepare answers for popular interview questions such as:
• why do you want this job/course?
• what are your strengths or weaknesses?
• which skills can you bring to the job/course?
• can you give me an example of a time when you displayed great team work/leadership/people skills?
Check the details. Where is the interview? What time is it? Do you know how to get there? You could even do a practice run!
Check yourself. What are you going to wear? It’s better to be too smart than not smart enough.
Ask questions. Is there anything you want to know? Employers like to see you asking questions. This shows that you’re interested in the role. Try to think of some questions in advance, and listen to the information given during the interview. The interviewer might answer one of your questions in the interview itself. Make sure that you don’t ask for the same information again!
And finally…stay calm! You’ve done all the preparation; now show them why they should take you on!