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The first steps to successful applications and interviews

1. Read the job advertisement carefully

  • What does the job entail?
  • What skills and experience are they looking for?
  • Underline key words

Get comfortable with the idea that these are marketing pieces. You are trying to sell yourself.

2. Think about your skills, competencies, qualifications and experience

What is unique about you and what are your strengths? Think in terms of what you have achieved.

Here are some questions to help you:

  • What is your best subject at university? Why do you like it?
  • Which of your internships or jobs did you enjoy most? Why?
  • What skills have you learned from attending university?
  • What skills have you acquired through work and internships?
  • What activities are you most passionate about? Why?
  • How have these activities contributed to your development and what skills have they taught you?
  • What would your friends say about your personal qualities?
  • What unique experience have you had (working as an au pair, participating in an exchange program, travel, living abroad). What have those experiences taught you?
  • Think about decisions you’ve made that required courage.
  • Find examples of times when you were faced with problems in your academic, work or personal life and found a solution.

3. Look at the key words you underlined in the advertisement

Which apply most to you? Which of your qualifications would be most important in this job?

4. Do your homework!

Research the company, their industry and their market.

5. If the advertisement wasn’t specific and you aren’t sure what skills are needed for the position...

... check out the Careerinfo website which details the skills needed for different jobs.

The next step in turning your background into the accomplishments a company or institution wants is to think about specific situations, what action you took, the result and what you learned from the experience. This isn’t easy. It takes some thinking but you will be able to use what you find in your CV, cover letter and interview to demonstrate that you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for.