Graduating soon? Our top tips for successful job applications and interviews
Author: Nyssa Starr, ECA WA Human Resources Manager
So the time has finally come. You’ve successfully passed your Capstone assessment, everything is up to date, and you’re just waiting on that final piece of paper to arrive confirming you have completed your apprenticeship and are now a fully-fledged electrician – congratulations!
Some of you may have been lucky enough to be offered a job with your Host Employer, and some of you may be asking yourself, what now? How do I prepare to apply for a new job? How do I prepare for an interview?
The first step is to write a good cover letter and resume.
How do I write a good cover letter?
A cover letter acts as a short introduction to your resume, tailored to the job you are applying for, and should be no longer than 1 page. When writing a cover letter, you should:
- Introduce yourself
- Mention the job you are applying for
- Show that your skills and experience match the job you are applying for
- Encourage the recruiter to read your resume
How do I write a good resume?
A resume (sometimes called a CV) is a document that lists your work experience, skills, education and key achievements. Keep your resume short (no more than 2 or 3 pages), to the point and easy to read. Avoid spelling mistakes, using fonts which are small and hard to read, long and cluttered paragraphs, poor formatting or distracting graphics. Remember, the recruiter will be looking at multiple resumes, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to find the information they need.
Microsoft Word has simple, easy to use cover letter and resume templates available which are a good starting point.
What should I include in my resume?
- Personal details - such as full name, contact phone number and email address.
- Education details - starting with the most recent first and working backwards. Include the qualification(s) you received, where you studied and the year you started and finished.
- Work experience – again, starting with the most recent first and working backwards. Under each job listing include the title of your position, company name, dates you started and finished, and a bullet point list of responsibilities and key achievements.
- Skills – list your main skills including both technical skills and ‘soft’ skills such as being a team player.
- References – you may list your referees with their contact details, or you might prefer to include a statement such as ‘references available on request’ (this is my recommended option).
What shouldn’t I include in my resume?
Don’t include details in your resume such as your age, marital status, religion, full home address – these are irrelevant to whether you will be good at the job.
Should I tailor my resume for each job?
Yes. Just one of the reasons you should do this is because some companies use Applicant Tracking Systems to scan your resume. What does this mean? Basically, your resume is scanned by a bot which picks up keywords from the job posting and matches them to your resume before it is sent to a human to read. If your resume doesn’t contain the keywords the bot is looking for, chances are it won’t make it past the bot. That’s why you should change your cover letter and resume for each job you apply for, making sure you include the keywords from the job posting.
So, you’ve made it through to the most important part, the interview. What now?
How do I prepare for an interview?
In order to make a great first impression and keep that up throughout the whole interview, preparation is key. There are a number of simple things you can do to prepare for an interview, which include:
- Reviewing the job description for the role to see what skills you hold that you will need for the job. If you don’t have the job description, re-reading the job posting should give you a lot of this information.
- Researching the company to get an idea of exactly what they do. You may even be asked in the interview if you know what the company does, and being able to answer this question will score you some points. You should be able to get this information from a quick Google search.
- Thinking about what you will wear to make sure you look neat and tidy.
- Planning your journey to the interview so you aren’t late.
- Preparing for questions you think you may be asked. Make a list of questions you think you may be asked and plan some answers.
- Preparing a list of questions you want to ask the employer.
What types of questions might I get asked?
The simplest types of questions you will get asked at an interview are questions about your work experience and skills. These should be easy questions for you to answer because you will do these things on a daily basis. Stick to what is relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
Other types of questions you may get asked are situational or behavioural questions. These types of questions will start with words such as “tell me about a time when…” or “give me an example of…” An easy way to answer these questions is to use what is called the STAR method. There are plenty of examples of these types of questions and answers available on the Internet if you want to get some ideas.
Should I follow up after the interview?
If you haven’t heard back from the employer within the timeframe they gave you, there is no harm in following up with a quick email or phone call to see if a decision has been made.
So there you have it, a few small tips for applying and interviewing for a job.
Goodluck with your job search.