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How can I tailor and improve my job applications?

Posted almost 4 years ago by Julia Williams
Pexels Kaboompics Com 6375 (1)

The candidate market is as competitive as ever.

With Furlough winding to a close many businesses are looking to make redundancies, increasing the volume of talent with immediate start dates in the market. Conversely, there is a strong contingent of workers who, due to treatment throughout lockdown, are looking for alternative employment.

With 62.7% less jobs available in the market, from a candidate perspective it is easy to recognise the pressure which they are under. With financial and personal factors taking the lead, it can be easy to panic and enforce a quantity approach with job applications rather than an quality one.

Our recent blog highlights that taking a quality approach is likely to be more beneficial during the long-term, rather than applying for everything and anything only to hear nothing back from employers.

Whilst we addressed the various advantages which tailoring applications to your skills and experience can have on your job search, we recognise many job seekers are wondering how exactly they can enforce such an approach.

For new to market candidates

As with most recessions, younger generations are likely to be impacted the most, with under 25 year olds taking a hit in work availability due to a reduction in the volume of entry-level roles and internships.

Due to many holding less experience than their older counterparts, finding the right job in this market is highly competitive and requires candidates to really emphasise their key skills in order to stand apart.

How can I present my applications?

Out of the thousands of young people searching for employment, we recognise not all are likely to have experience in creating job applications. Often we receive questions about “what should I include in my CV” and “What skills do I highlight in my cover letter”. In response to these enquires, we recently created an application guide, suitable for recent school and college leavers, in addition to new graduates.

Providing advice from our recruitment specialists , this guide demonstrates what new market candidates should include in their CV, cover letter, and portfolio to ensure that applications are not only tailored to the role, but demonstrate their strongest skill sets and qualities.

Find your USP and use it to your advantage

When new market candidates don’t have much (or potentially any) relevant market experience it can be difficult to know how you can pitch yourself amongst numerous more experienced applicants.

In response to this we advise new market candidates to find their unique selling point (USP) and tailor their applications around this.

For instance, if a candidate has volunteering or internship experience, it may be wise to consider what was done in this role which was unique to everyone in the room. Applicants should consider whether they have gone above and beyond to deliver a result, used leadership skills to drive change in a project or decided to take an alternative route which payed off. This will help them to find their USP.

Alternatively if applicants don’t hold any work experience, considering how they may have done something within an education setting to make them stand-out, from group projects to volunteering all are relevant in the job market.

Once new market applicants have found their USP, they can combine this with our application guide to develop a unique and tailored application.

For experienced candidates

Experienced candidates have probably been told to tailor their applications more times than they can count. Whilst news reports highlight some people are taking a quantity approach with their applications, we anticipate that the majority are trying as best as possible to ensure applications are tailored.

One of the largest barriers we find experienced level candidates face with tailoring applications is knowing which experiences they should use to their advantage.

Whilst this is simple to cover in a CV by listing relevant experience per role, it can be harder to address in a cover letter and portfolio.

Cover letter

When writing a cover letter, we advise experienced candidates to consider using their most recent (relevant) experiences, as these highlight how they have used their current skillset to the benefit of their previous/current employer.

In doing so, we advise if possible to focus on niche situations where their skills may have been deployed to make an impact. Highlighting the situation & task, what actions were taken, the impact this had & how it may be relevant to the job at hand. This is a key way for experienced candidates to demonstrate how they can make an impact within organisations which they are applying to, helping applicants to stand-out against candidates who solely focus on prior experiences.


For more creative jobs which require candidates to have a portfolio, it is important that candidates consider the sector and industry which the job lies within before sending their portfolio.

But it is also important to strike a balance by demonstrating a variety of previous work and skills. Demonstrating this variety shows employers that applicants are able to consider the wider picture and can be adaptable to different styles, promoting the long-term added value of an applicant to an organisation.

Above all, candidates should focus on only applying for roles which are relevant to their skill set and prior experience. Putting money on table is important, but by tailoring applications in a targeted and skill specific way candidates will be able to put their best foot forwards when applying for roles, increasing their odds of hire.

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