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Applications for Staff. Bruce Woodcock University of Kent Careers Advisory Service . How not to do it …. Place of birth? - A London hospital Size of employer: about 5’ 10” My health good, that of my parents not so good.

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applications for staff
Applications for Staff

Bruce Woodcock

University of Kent

Careers Advisory Service

how not to do it
How not to do it ….
  • Place of birth? - A London hospital
  • Size of employer: about 5’ 10”
  • My health good, that of my parents not so good.
  • Working on a farm has improved my communication skills which are especially important when working with large livestock.
  • Applying for job at biscuit company: my life-long love of chocolate biscuits, is the main reason for my interest in the company
  • It's best for employers that I not work with people
  • On an application for a position requiring considerable people skills - My hobbies include watching television, computer chess, stamp collecting and walking my 2 spaniels.
  • Reason for leaving last job: my employers insisted that all employees get to work by 8.45 am and I could not work under those conditions.
  • I am seeking challenges that test my mind and body, since the two are usually inseparable.
  • I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.
  • How long should a CV be?
  • How long should a covering letter be?
  • What is the sweet spot of a CV?
  • What is a reverse chronological CV?
research by forum3 found
Research by forum3 found:
  • The more CVs you send out the more interviews you get.
  • Applicants who included a covering letter with their CV were 10% more likely to get a reply.
  • Applicants who addressed their application to the correct named person were 15% more likely to get a letter of acknowledgement and 5% more likely to get an interview.
  • Applicants sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes are 61% more likely to get a reply and 26% more likely to get an interview.
  • The most common mistakes not found in a spell check were: fro instead of for, grate: great, liased: liaised, stationary: stationery.
  • Other turn-offs: misspelling the name of the company or the addressee, not having a reply address on the CV and trying to be amusing.
what is the purpose of a cv
What is the purpose of a CV?

To informthe employer about your:

  • education
  • work experience
  • skills
  • interests

To persuade the employer that you are potentially suitable for the job and are therefore worth Interviewing.

  • Use short sentences & concise phrases
  • Focus on skills and achievements
  • The best CVs are targeted at a particular job
  • Education or work first?
  • You don’t have to include every job: “Other jobs have included temporary office work and waitressing”
think about the job
Think about the job
  • CVs are normally targeted on a particular job
  • What tasks would the daily routine involve?
  • What skills would the job call for?
  • What type of personality would suit the job?
types of cv
Types of CV

Reverse Chronological

  • outline your career history in date order, normally beginning with the most recent items. The "conventional" approach and the easiest to prepare.


  • highly-focused CVs which relate your skills and abilities to a specific job.
  • work well for mature applicants and for those whose qualifications and work experience are not directly relevant to their application.
  • P 14 Applications Booklet
  • Reading, cinema, stamp-collecting, travel
  • Cinema: member of the Whitstable Cinema Society
  • Travel: traveled through Europe by train this summer in a group of four people, visiting historic sites and improving my French and Italian
  • Reading: helped pupils with reading difficulties at school
  • Chair of Canterbury Philately Society
your covering letter
Your Covering Letter

Your CV is incomplete without it!

  • Accompanies and amplifies the CV
  • Be clear and concise - one side of A4 is sufficient
  • Use same font as CV
your covering letter11
First Paragraph

State the job you’re applying for.

Where you found out about it.

When you're available to start work

Second Paragraph

Why your interested in that type of work

Why the organisation attracts you (if it's a small company say you prefer to work for a small friendly organisation!)

Third Paragraph

Summarise your strengths and how they might be an advantage to the organisation.

Relate your skills to the job.

Last Paragraph

Mention any dates that you won't be available for interview

Thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon.

Your Covering Letter
skills required in clerical admin jobs at kent
Skills required in clerical/admin. jobs at Kent
  • Good attitude to teamwork. Friendly and cheerful personality
  • Proactive: able to use initiative. “No problem, I’ll do it!”Problem solvers, not problem creators!
  • Flexible and adaptable: learns new skills quickly.
  • Enthusiastic, motivated Excellent communication skills – dealing confidently with students, take phone messages
  • Organised and efficient. Able to plan and organise their own workload. Work to strict deadlines
  • Attention to detail: proofreading skills. Keeping accurate and up to date records
  • Knowledge of the problems students may experience
  • Microsoft Office: ECDL. Familiarity with databases, Excel and the web
  • English and Maths (statistical info)
competency questions
Competency Questions
  • The hardest part of the form for most applicants - asking for examples of specific skills such as teamwork, leadership, problem solving e.g.
  • Describe how your personal planning and organisation resulted in the successful achievement of a personal or group task.
  • Give an example of where others have disagreed with your views. How did you deal with this?

There are four main things employers will look at in applications:

  • Education - ability to think clearly, analyse and assess information, draw conclusions, work independently, research, etc
  • Work experience - ability to get on with people, work under pressure, meet deadlines, etc
  • Leisure interests - ability to plan and organise, co-operate with others, compete, work hard to achieve results ...
  • Specific skills - eg driving licence, computing or foreign language skills

Examples of evidence of skills:

  • Verbal Communication - assisted visitors of many nationalities as a seasonal Tourist Information Assistant, advising on places of interest, transport and accommodation and helping resolve any problems
  • Time Management - have successfully combined studies with a part-time job and involvement in a number of drama and music productions
the star approach
  • TASK
the star approach17
The STAR Approach
  • One way of answering these questions is via the STAR approach - Situation, Task, Action and Result.
  • It's a bit like a mini essay.
  • Situation and Task are usually combined and form the introduction
  • The Action you took, should form the main body of your answer
  • The Result should be your conclusion
the star approach18
The STAR Approach
  • S Whilst employed at Weaver Bros. last summer
  • T I was given the task of rationalising the stock control system
  • A I would look at factors such as when the stock was last ordered, what it was used for and how often it was used. I worked out a method of streamlining the paperwork involved in this process and redesigned the relevant forms, which I then submitted to my manager.
  • R My ideas were accepted and implemented and a 15% reduction in stock levels was achieved“

the good
The good…….

Please describe a time when you saw an opportunity to really make a difference for the future of a group, an activity or yourself. What did you do?

During the summer of 2003, I was recruited to be part of a two-month, six-man roadshow travelling around the M25 area promoting tennis and Ariel Liquitabs. Within the first week of the roadshow the event manager resigned and I applied to take over this role. Although I had no specific previous experience, I felt it was a great opportunity to stretch myself and make a difference to my future. I was accepted as the new event manager and took over the very next day, it was extremely difficult initially, but I drew on my experiences of Head of School and captains of numerous sports teams and settled into the role relatively quickly. My role necessitated dealing with a vast range of individuals from Sainsbury’s Managers to children as young as 5 years of age, which improved my interpersonal and communicational skills. In addition, my motivational skills were also tested, as I was constantly required to motivate my staff due to the roadshow becoming monotonous in the latter stages. The roadshow appeared to be a real success with the tennis clubs receiving a 10% increase in applicants and rival soap powder brands putting on extra promotions. The feedback I received on how I managed the roadshow was extremely positive and I have subsequently been put forward to manage numerous other events.

Rising to the challenge

Selling self

Influencing a variety of people

Tangible results

the bad
The bad…..

Apathy- did not put self forward for task.

  • The biggest challenge whilst carrying out the assignment was conducting a financial analysis on the company. I was assigned this task, as I had previous experience in this area as I have carried out two financial and accounting modules during my University degree. I conducted a full ratio analysis on the company, which included analysing Next's Profit and Loss Account and Balance Sheet. I presented the ratios and included details of the company's current financial position, along with an explanation of how the company could improve their position.The Presentation involved presenting our group's report on Next Plc to the rest of the Marketing group. Our group conducted a Microsoft Powerpoint presentation, to ensure it was conducted in the most efficient and systematic way. Each member presented their individual section, the final section then included contributions by all group members. Our group had practised the presentation on numerous occasions prior to the final presentation, which ensured a smooth running. Each member of the Marketing class was given a feedback form to report their opinions of the presentation. Our group received all positive feedback and were all awarded a 2:1 for the presentation, this contributed towards the final outcome of or Marketing modules.

No ownership, leadership.

No individual result.

the ridiculous
The ridiculous...

Does not bring the group with them.

  • Mealtimes are a difficult and challenging time as this is one affair when my friends and I are truly tested in our decision making skills.
  • There has been more than one occasion where a unified agreement on what to do about dinner has proven to be a problem. I therefore take it upon myself to be the spokesperson for the group. One example would be where two of my friends wanted chicken nuggets and hence wished to go to McDonald’s while three others preferred the Chicken Royale from Burger King as opposed the the McChicken Sandwich one can get at McDonalds. Using my initiative, intuition and lateral thinking I suggested that we all go to KFC instead. My reasoning was that this was that KFC do chicken popcorn and are a far better choice than chicken nuggets. While their Fillet Tower Burgers are a step up from the standard Burger King Chicken Royale as they have a hash brown in them as well. Thus using some originality of thought, a certain degree of diplomacy and a persuasive tongue I convinced them all to join me at KFC.

No explanation of how.

No recognition of others’ opinions.

and the hopeless
And the hopeless …
  • "I have a criminal record but I'm not in jail at the moment"
  • "I have good writen comunication skills"
  • "I want experience in a big sex practice"
  • "I enclose a tea-bag so you can enjoy a cuppa while perusing my form"
  • "If called to interview I would like to discuss the salary, pensions and sickness benefits"
  • “Would you say their are any skill shortages in the UK for actuary's ie their enough out their, is their a shortfall of any kind of actuary?” In an email from an HBOS HR manager to me!
action verbs
Action Verbs

created instructed analysed produced negotiated designed calculated maintained administered …….

careers service web site
Careers Service Web Site

Applications and interviews

Example CVs and Covering Letters