BearHugs' Top Tips for Writing Wonderful Job Applications
I recently had the wonderful-but-incredibly tricky job of shortlisting applicants for our Sender of Hugs role. We were very lucky to have a lot of brilliant people apply for the position. This meant that narrowing down who we would invite for interview was really hard.
With the quality of the applications being so high, the difference between some people being offered an interview and others not ended up coming down to the tiniest things. With this in mind, I’ve put together a few of my top tips for writing wonderful job applications! They may not be 100% watertight for applications for other organisations, but if you’re ever thinking of applying for a job at BearHugs, they’ll definitely be worth bearing in mind!
Evidence, evidence, evidence…
Providing concrete evidence really helps the person reading your application know what you can do.
Unfortunately it isn't enough to just state 'I have this particular skill' or 'I am good at this particular thing'. In order to score well it is better to provide some evidence. A great way to offer this is through an example. A structure that makes it really easy for someone looking over your application is:
1. Introduce the skill or attribute
2. Briefly describe the setting that you showed you have this skill in
3. Say what you did (not what others did)
4. Briefly describe the outcome and impact of your actions
Show that you’re the full Package
Be sure to include ALL of the skills and attributes required.
We find that the best way to provide evidence in an application that you're truly the right person for the role is to systematically work through every single one of the skills and attributes required and then provide a specific example for each that really shows off that you have that skill or attribute. We want to know you're the full package!
You could even do this in list-form. From the employers perspective, this is quite handy when reading a lot of applications as it makes it nice and easy to match your skills with the criteria that is needed. It may seem a bit laborious, but it's a great way to make sure you're covering all bases and showing off more of your strengths.
Assume that nothing is assumed
It's best not to assume that the person reading the application knows anything about you.
Everyone has things that come so naturally or easily to them that they assume they're a 'given'. When it comes to a job application though, it's probably better to assume nothing can be assumed. It's always worth mentioning that you meet every aspect of the criteria for a role, even if some seem obvious to you.
For example, we found that a lot of people didn't mention in their applications that they are able to use a computer. This is an important part of the Sender of Hugs role and was listed in the job advert - we ideally needed applicants to mention this in their applications.
It's also best not to rely on the fact that the person reading your application will infer that you can do something from something else you have mentioned (e.g. "I was a receptionist" doesn’t directly tell us that you have used computers before). Even if it feels a bit silly, it can be good to explicitly state the skill (you can even use the wording in the advert if you like).
Pay close attention
Show that you've read the questions and information provided carefully.
Something we occasionally saw was that applicants didn't show us that they had read all of the information provided.
For example, we asked that applicants for our Sender of Hugs role explain why they feel they would work well within our values system. Within this question we suggested that applicants familiarised themselves with our values before answering. Applicants who scored well on this question made specific references to each of the values we had listed in the information provided.
Remember to be yourself!
This is a chance to show that you’re someone who people will get on well with and enjoy the company of on a day-to-day basis.
Sometimes it’s really easy to get caught up in the list of skills you need to tick off when writing a job application, but it’s also important to remember that it’s an opportunity to sell yourself as a person, potential team member and colleague.
When reading through a lot of job applications it’s always lovely to come across someone who has their own unique tone of voice and who drops in a few details that tell you a little bit more about them as a person. It makes the application that bit more memorable.
While it’s really important to make sure that you get across that you have all the skills required for the role, it’s also important to show a bit of who you are as an individual and what it is that makes you, you!
If you’re ever thinking of applying for a role here at BearHugs, I hope these little tips come in handy!