Are you ready for a challenge?

Applying for a job is always a big challenge and can often feel like a job in itself.

If you are going to be the best of the bunch you need to be not just enthusiastic but organised too - not just with paperwork but also on your computer.

The application

Putting together a good application is really important; employers will only interview people who they think will be able to do the job. There are several stages to getting a job.

First find the job you want to apply for, read the job advert and make sure you meet all the skills and requirements. This is sometimes made easy for you because employers will send a person specification for you to match yourself against.

Person Specification

This may be in the advert or sent to you with an application form. It describes the type of person the employer is looking for and also lists the essential and desirable skills and experience needed for the job. Make sure you can match these skills; remember you can have acquired these skills at school, through work experience, voluntary work sport or Princes Trust Team

How to apply

Next apply for the job as instructed. That means if it says send a covering letter and your CV, do that.

Top Tip

Get yourself a folder to keep all your application paperwork in, that way you can always find what you are looking for. Keep copies of your CV in there too.

Ways of applying for a job

  • Complete an on-line application. Sometimes this can include a personality quiz or a maths or English test as well as the usual information
  • Download an application form from a website and complete either on your computer or by hand, make sure you follow the instructions.
  • By telephone to ask for an application form or an interview. This call is often the first part of the interview; employers can see how good your communication skills are straight away. Remember always be polite and be sure of what you are going to say.
  • Send a covering letter and a CV by post or e mail.

Top Tip

Before you telephone an employer practice what you are going to say, write a script so that you can refer to it if necessary. Be prepared to leave a message on voicemail, again have a script prepare and speak slowly and clearly.

Here's an example script for leaving a message

"Hello my name is …… Would you please send me an application form and information about the job of (job title) as advertised in (say where you saw it advertised). The job reference number is (check the advert to see if there is a reference number, large companies have lots of vacancies and this helps them to identify which one you are interested in).

Give your name, address and telephone number, spell any unusual words and imagine you are writing it down then you will not speak too quickly.

Applying for a job by phone

  • Make sure you have enough credit on your phone or ask to use the phone at Prospects or one of their outreach venues.
  • Have the job advert with you to refer to when you call
  • Prepare any questions you want to ask and write them down
  • Make sure you are somewhere quiet with no interruptions
  • Check the name of the person you need to speak to, if it is not in the advert ask for the manager or human resources
  • Have paper and pen ready to make any notes especially for interview date and time
  • Speak clearly and politely, ask for information to be repeated if you didn't hear it the first time
  • Thank the person for their time
  • Make a note of the outcome of the conversation in your job application folder

Application forms

  • Get a photocopy of the application before you start. You can use this to practice on and will have a copy to refer to when you are called for interview
  • Use your CV to help you with the details needed on the form
  • Follow the instructions such as use black ink/BLOCK CAPITALS
  • Use Capital Letters for the first letter of your name and address, correct grammar and punctuation is important along with spelling. Get someone to check it for you
  • Answer all the questions, if something is not relevant to you put 'no' or 'n/a'. If you need more space attach additional white paper
  • Make sure your referees have agreed to give a reference. You can use your last teacher or training provider and a trusted adult who knows you well, but not a relative
  • Sign and date the application form
  • Get someone to check it for mistakes, it is easier for someone else to see mistakes
  • Send the form back in plenty of time before the closing date, if it is late it is unlikely to be considered
  • Put your copy in your job application folder
  • Make sure you use the correct postage on the envelope if you are posting it.

Top Tip

Consider your e-mail address what does it sound like to an employer? You may want to change it to something more grown-up

Application letters

The purpose of your letter is to introduce yourself, say what your interests are and show your relevant skills and experience.

Top Tips for Letter Writing

  • Write it out in rough first, get someone to check it for mistakes
  • If you know the person's name, use it and end the letter 'Yours sincerely'
  • If you don't know the person's name start with 'Dear Sir/Madam (there is no 'e' on the end of Madam) and end the letter with 'Yours faithfully
  • If you are replying to an advert say so and where you saw the advert, use the reference number if there is one
  • Include your name, full address, telephone and e mail address if you check it regularly as well as the date
  • Keep your letter short, about the job and to the point
  • Use plain white paper and envelope
  • Write clearly using black ink
  • Keep a copy in your job application folder

There are two types of application letter

Covering Letter

This letter is sent with an application form or CV; it gives you the chance to say why you are interested in the job. If a job advert say to 'apply in writing' this is the letter that you send with a copy of your CV.

Speculative Letter

This letter asks employers to consider you for any vacancies they may have in the future. If you are interested in working for a particular company or in a specific job then this is the letter to send.

Writing your CV

A CV is a pen picture of you; it describes your skills, achievements, experience and education. Employers usually have lots of applications for jobs that are advertised and so you will need to make sure that your CV is short and simple, well presented andeasy to read.

What should be included?

  • Name and address: Full name, address with postcode, phone number both land line and mobile and your e mail address
  • Personal Profile: A short paragraph summarising your main strengths and useful experience for the job you are applying for. You can also include your long term ambition if you wish
  • Education and qualifications: Start with your most recent education, include the name and academic year you attended. Add the qualifications you gained whilst there. Make sure you have the certificates for any qualifications
  • Work and vocational experience: List any part time jobs including a paper round or other casual work as well as work experience whilst at school. Again start with the most recent
  • Additional information: Hobbies or interests and any awards you have gained in your spare time. Be honest, you may be asked to talk more about these at an interview
  • References: Give the names and addresses of two people that know you well and will be able to tell an employer about you. Use your last teacher/employer and a family friend or community leader, do not use family members

CV Power words

Here is a list of words that you could use on your CV or covering letter. If you use any of these words make sure you can think of an example and use it.

Accurate creative hard-working motivated

Achieve dependable helpful organised

Adaptable determined honest presentable

Capable efficient innovative pro-active

Committed enthusiastic interested reliable

Competent experienced keen thorough

Confident flexible logical trustworthy

To register your CV on the Job Centre website follow this link and register to create an account.

CV Tips

  • Make sure it is up to date before you apply for a job
  • Add any new jobs, work experience, training or qualification as soon as they are completed
  • Keep it to 2 sides of A4 paper
  • Use good quality paper to print it on


Employers are very busy people; they will only ask you for interview if they think you can do the job. The purpose of the interview is for the employer to find out more about you and decide if you are the best person for the job. The interview is also your chance to find out more about the employer and if the job is what you would really like to do.

Everyone gets nervous about interviews, but making sure you are ready helps you to do your best. Every interview is different, some may have a panel of 3 or more people asking questions, others just have one person.

When offered an interview

  • Confirm that you can attend immediately
  • If there is a problem with the date or time ask if it can be rearranged, make sure you have a good reason to do this as it may not be possible and you will miss out on the interview
  • If you change your mind about the job and decide you don't want it, let the employer know, you may want to apply again in the future


  • Read through your application again to remind yourself of what you put. The interviewer may ask you to go in to more detail about comments you made on your application form.
  • Find out about the company, what does it make or do? How many people does it employ? How long has it been running? Who are its' customers?
  • Think about what you are going to wear. It must be clean and ironed, your shoes need to be clean too
  • Think about what questions you would like to ask. Some examples are 'How will I know how well I am doing?' 'How long is the training?' 'Will I have someone I can ask questions once I start?'
  • Consider what you want the employer to know about you
  • What are you good at?
  • What can you contribute to the company?
  • What skills and abilities are bringing?

Do a practice run to the employer so that you know

  • Exactly where to go
  • How to get there
  • How long the journey takes
  • How much the bus fare will be

On the day

  • Make sure you are clean, including hair and teeth as well as your clothes
  • Have a folder with a copy of your application form, interview letter, CV and certificates in
  • Aim to arrive around 10 minutes before your interview time
  • Report to reception, show the interview letter if you are not sure who to ask for
  • Turn off your mobile phone, put out your cigarette and remove chewing gum
  • Wait for the interview to shake hands first and wait to be asked to sit down
  • Look at the person you are speaking to, but don't 'stare them out'
  • Speak clearly and be polite
  • Lean forward in your chair, look interested in what is going on
  • Answer questions with as much information as you can, this is your chance to impress the employer with your knowledge and understanding of the role
  • If you are not sure about anything ASK the only daft question is the one not asked
  • Be honest and positive, this is not the time to criticise your school/college/tutor/boss
  • Ask when and how you will be told about the outcome of the interview
  • Thank the interviewer for their time before you leave

Job hunting problems

"I never see any jobs or training I want…"

Are you sure about what you do want? Have you looked at all the possibilities? Try looking through adverts with a friend , they may suggest jobs you have not considered. Arrange a careers guidance interview with your Prospects Personal Adviser

"I apply, but I never get an interview…"

Don't get too discouraged, there are lots of people out there looking for work. Get someone to look at your application letter and CV. Are you looking at jobs you have the skills and qualities for?

"I've been for interviews, but I never get the job…

If you don't hear from the employer by the date agreed it is OK to call them. Explain that you have not heard about the job. If you were not successful ask for feedback. Listen carefully to what you are told, and use it at your next interview.

"I've got too much against me…"

Everyone has something good to offer. Talk to an adviser who can help you to highlight your strengths and find ways to overcome whatever it is that is stopping you from looking for work.

"I'm not sure I am ready for work or training yet – it seems like a long time to be at work…"

Talk to your adviser about short courses or taster courses so that you can build your confidence and skills ready to apply for a job.

Job application record


Name & Address

Job Title





When and how

I applied


You could cut out the advert and stick it on a piece of paper to put in your folder. You can then add information about your application progress to the page. Eg.

Job Advert

Walkers and sons

Sales assistant full time

Apply in writing by


Date and place of advert: 25th July 2013Leicester Mercury

28/07/12Letter and CV posted

04/08/13Letter offering interview on 10th August received, confirmed attendance with Mr Green by phone

05/08/13Researched Walkers on Internet. Established in 1935, sells a range of meat products, family business, and employs 100 people.

08/08/13Tried out journey, takes 45 minutes from home and cost £1.35 on the bus. Staff all wear uniform and hair is tied back.

09/08/13Chose interview outfit, smart trousers and top, flat shoes and tie my hair back. Thought about questions to ask at the interview. Made sure all certificates are in my folder with the interview letter