Helping you get through tough times

Applying for jobs

Applying for jobs can be a confusing business – trying to suss out what the employer is looking for and how to prove that you can do the job.

Vacant signFor every ten jobs you apply for, no matter how great your application, you might only get one response/ So, you have to grow a thick skin.

There is, however, some great advice out there in terms of how to be prepared.

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, your address, a summary of your secondary, third level and any other education and a brief description of any previous work experience roles.

Include a list of achievement and skills – i.e certificates you have or skills in computer programs.

Make your CV relevant

Focus on skills and experience showing how you could contribute in the advertised position. It’s a good idea to tailor your CV for each job, even if it just means changing a line or two.

Check it for any spelling or formatting mistakes and 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.

Remember, you should 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. If it’s too long, an employer many not read it. Aim to keep it to 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, providing information about how you meet the specified criteria.

You can do this as part of the cover letter or as a separate document called a “supporting statement”. In the cover letter, you should summarise the reasons that make you the best person for the job.

A cover letter is an opportunity to tell a potential employer a little more about yourself than you have room for in your CV. Again, try to keep your letter short, no more than one page. Focus on why you want the job and what you have to offer.

Job interviews

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

Sometimes you will be asked easy questions about yourself and your experience, other times you may be asked to solve problems. It’s difficult to predict what the interview will be like, some preparation beforehand will enable you to respond more quickly to the situation.

Know your CV

Make sure you can easily recite your CV and answer in-depth questions about your skills and experience. It’s a fairly standard opening to have to talk through your CV.

Think about your strengths and your weaknesses. 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”. This type of answer shows that you acknowledge weakness, however it’s something that is not always seen as a weakness.

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

Do your research

Familiarise yourself 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.

Find out about competitors and know the area.


Another interview technique is competency-based questions and most employers in Ireland these days are adopting this style.

These are questions that focus on set list 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 you are being interviewed for.

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 are 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, and try not to put pressure on yourself about getting the job.

This article was last reviewed on 03 May 2017

What can I do now?

Follow us on Facebook