GUEST BLOG: First impressions count

UoY Careers Balloon illy Guest blog written by RateMyPlacement

Looking for jobs can be a tiresome process; sifting through different roles and companies can take up a lot of time especially when you’re not certain what you’re looking for. It’ important to make sure that when you do eventually find that dream job you avoid making clumsy mistakes which are going to prevent you from getting through to the next round of the interview process.

We have got some top tips to share with you that are going to help you approach the application process with eagle eyes and complete confidence.

First impressions count

More often than not your CV is the first communication you will have with a potential employer – so make it shine!

Poor spelling and grammar is unforgivable in employers’ eyes so check, check and CHECK AGAIN! When you’re competing for popular placements, you want to stand out from the crowd and prove why you’re the best.

Relevancy is key – don’t be generic in your application; make yourself stand out from the crowd. In addition, create an innovative and unforgettable CV to compliment it – it may be time consuming but it’s an investment in yourself which is necessary.

Top tips:

Make sure you don’t fall at the first hurdle.
This is your first opportunity to impress your potential new employer so make sure you check over your CV to avoid slipping up!


Poor Spelling & Grammar – Don’t rely on spellcheck. Why not ask your friends, family or university careers service to have a look before you send it off?
This will no doubt minimise the chances of your application going straight into the reject pile.

Not Providing Enough Evidence – If you are struggling to think of different examples to demonstrate your skills, have a think about extra-curricular activities to help illustrate them.
E.g. if you’re in a sports team, think about teamwork, leadership and organisation skills.

Forgetting to Attach a CV – that would be embarrassing… but it has been done, so just double check!

Not Tailoring Your CV – Different companies look for students who have the same values and qualities that match their brand. Research the qualities of the company you are applying to first and then give examples of why you match these qualities.
E.g. if you’re applying to a small entrepreneurial company then give examples of times when you have been ‘entrepreneurial’.

“71% of students fear organisations using social media to do background checks. Why not utilise this tool to make you shine? Sort your privacy settings and set up a LinkedIn profile to search on the right channels!”

Should I include all work experience, even part-time jobs? 

Make the most of placements, holiday or part time work. Don’t ignore jobs just because they sound basic or mundane – the fact that you got one shows initiative and there will be lots of transferable skills which you can talk about!

How to structure your CV for a placement job

First things first, be sure to include all relevant contact information.
How will a potential employer get in touch if you haven’t included your name, contact number and email address? Make sure it’s all clearly and correctly displayed.

Be selective.
Include relevant qualifications such as A-level results, key modules and achievements that you’re proud of. Highlight key responsibilities you’ve had and how these relate to the role you’re applying for.

Be interesting.
When thinking of any additional hobbies and interests, try to think of activities that are original and show attributable skills. Try mentioning the specific clubs and societies you’re a part of which encompass the activities you enjoy.

“Ensure your application is specific to the company and the vacancy. Research the company ethics, core values and mission statement to tailor your application to show you would fit in well”

– Jo Chester, graduate recruitment support manager at Cummins

How can I stand out on my job application form?

Personality is important, everyone has interests, so let this shine through. If you are the Christopher Columbus of the 21st century tell them about it and about the skills it has taught you. These can be skills such as time management, adaptability, languages- it’s interesting information like this that can give you the edge.

What to include in your placement job covering letter

Personal statements are a great way to summarise the reason why you are applying for a particular job role or business internship. In addition, it gives you an opportunity to talk about why your previous skills, achievements and education would make you a suitable candidate for the role.

When writing your personal statement, be sure to convey the reasons how and why you can benefit the company. Then back up your statements with sound examples.

It’s also important to stay clear of over-used and vague buzzwords such as ‘communication’ and ‘dynamic’. Instead, use more specific terminology to showcase your key skills such as ‘time management’, ‘business awareness’ and ‘decision maker’, using examples to back up your points.

If you’re still looking for a placement or internship, make sure you check out RateMyPlacement to get involved with the latest opportunities.

For placement, internship and graduate vacancies, come along to Careers’ Summer Recruitment Fair on Monday 6 June, 12 noon – 3pm in the Physics & Exhibition Centre.