A lot of successful applications come through gradtouch.com, which has given us a unique understanding of what makes a good job application - and what makes a bad one. Here are some simple tips that should help you improve your applications and avoid any unecessary errors.
On your CV:
1. Don't attach a photo of yourself unless you're applying to be a model.
2. Don't forget to include your degree grade.
Not doing so shows that you've either forgotten (forgetfulness is not a trait employers look for) or that you're hiding something. Just be open and honest.
3. Tailor it. Every time.
It's tempting to mass send the same CV and cover letter to every employer out there, hoping that one of them bites, but it's better to make your application relevant to the sector you applied for. Do this and you'll get a lot more responses.
4. Avoid clichés.
"I work well on my own and as part of a team" is the most overused sentence in job applications. If you've used it, you probably even cringed when doing so and thought, "why the hell am I even writing this?" Employers will naturally assume you can work with other people without doing a mini-vom in your mouth. No one is ever going to write "I only work well on my own ; in fact, I actually hate working with other people."
5. Check your SPAG.
AKA spelling, punctuation and grammar. You should know the importance of proofreading after all those essays you write at uni - don't think hiring managers will be any more lenient than your professors.
6. Finally, try to look at it objectively.
If it looks boring and doesn't do you justice then you should probably start over. It's a pain, but if you're not confident about something how can you expect anyone else to be?
On your cover letter:
1. Remember that it's not a dissertation.
'Dear Mr/Mrs, here's my massive letter which I think is A+ but you will take one look at and not read.' is exactly what you should be avoiding. Cover letters should be no more than three quarters of a page; half a page is ideal. 'I want to work for this company because of this, this and this' - done.
2. Tailor it for every single company.
NEVER just replace the name of the company at the top. Employers can spot a copy and pasted cover letter from a mile off.
3. Again. Check your SPAG.
4. Don't just regurgitate your CV.
Put something new and interesting into it. Expand on what you couldn't fit into your CV. Be personal and specific to the company and make the whole thing shine.