Helping you get through tough times

So you’re going to get a job

Looking and applying for jobs can be hard work! Completing endless application forms, trying to suss out what employers are looking for, trying to prove you can do the job – it’s not an easy task! 

For every ten jobs you apply for, maybe more, no matter how great your application, you might only get one response.

You have to grow a thick skin. Here is some great advice to help you prepare.

How to make your CV

When applying for a job, you will almost always be asked to provide your curriculum vitae (CV). This should include your full name, address, a summary of your secondary and any other education and a brief description of any previous work or work experience roles.

Include a list of achievement and skills – certificates you have or skills in computer programmes.

Make sure you keep it relevant. It’s recommended that you tailor your CV for each application. Focus on skills and experience that show how you could contribute in the advertised position.

Proof, proof and proof

Check your CV for any spelling or formatting mistakes. Get someone else to look over it as well. Use a plain font like Times New Roman and try to keep the layout as clear as possible.

This is crucial as it may be the only chance to sell yourself. Never underestimate the importance of good spelling and grammar, no matter what the job.

Account for any work experience done at school, any voluntary work, or any work done with family businesses. Try not to make your CV longer than it needs to be. The ideal length is two pages.

Tick the boxes

Employers often include selection criteria for the position. If there are criteria, make sure you address each point they request. Provide information about how you meet the specified criteria.

You can do this as part of a cover letter. In the cover letter, you should summarise the reasons why you think you’re the best person for the job.

This is an opportunity to tell a potential employer a little more about yourself. Again, try to keep your letter short, no more than a page, and focus on why you want the job and what you have to offer.

Job interviews

These can sometimes be stressful and tense experiences. Being really prepared helps. You may have to talk to one person, or a whole group.

Sometimes you’ll be asked easy questions about yourself and your experience, other times you may be asked to solve problems.

It’s difficult to predict what an interview will be like. Some preparation beforehand will enable you to respond more quickly to the situation. Make sure you can easily recite your CV and answer in-depth questions about your skills and experience.

Ways to prepare for interviews

Think about your strengths and weaknesses. Honestly this is a common interview question! When thinking about a weakness, try and use one that can have a positive spin, for example, “I am sometimes a bit of a perfectionist”. Don’t use this example though – it’s a bit of a cliché at this stage!

Ask a friend to help you practice some questions and answers before you go in.

It’s also a good idea to be familiar with the work that your potential employer does. If they have a website, read up on what they do, or ask around to see if anyone you know has worked there that you could talk to.


Another interview technique is competency-based questions. Most employers in Ireland these days are adopting this style. These are questions focussing on set lists of skills employers are looking for in their employees, like time management, customer service etc.

An example of a competency-based question is, “Describe a situation where you felt you couldn’t meet a deadline and how you resolved the situation?”.

These questions help show an employer how you cope with situations you may be exposed to within the job.

Try to think about your previous work/school experience before attending an interview, arming yourself with answers for questions like these.

Most importantly

Try to remain calm and focused. Breathe deeply if you’re nervous. Most people have to go through a good few interviews before they get a job.

Every interview increases your experience, so it’s worth doing in its own right. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t do so well.

Congratulate yourself on getting as far as the interview. It is an achievement in itself! Try not to put pressure on yourself about getting the job.

This article was last reviewed on 07 August 2018

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