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Job applications for dummies

Finding a job opening is one thing, getting the job is another. Here are some guidelines which will guide you through the application process step by step.

Who am I?
Before getting started on the job search, it is useful to do some soul searching and ask yourself what you are looking for in a job. What will make you happy and give you real job satisfaction? Start from scratch by listing your skills, interests and job expectations. Combine your most important skills and interests to determine which industry, business and position best fits your profile. When doing so, keep your expectations in mind. You might be the perfect candidate for a PhD position because you are clever and love research. However, if your expectations are that you will easily get through the selection because of your brain capacity alone, this job will not be your perfect match.
To get a better idea of what your aspirant job actually entails, you can reach out to professionals in those positions and ask them to tell you about their job over a cup of coffee. You will be surprised just how many people are willing and happy to share this information with you.

Now you are aware of your personal profile, you can start the job search. Nowadays job vacancies are predominantly found on the internet. You can find them on various job sites such as and on career sites of employers and recruitment agencies. You will be surprised how many job vacancies are also shared via social media channels like LinkedIn, and even Twitter or Facebook. Job vacancies often include a short and appealing description of the position, a list outlining the main tasks and requirements for the position point by point, instructions for application and some general information about the company.

The perfect match
As soon as you identify yourself in the description and the majority of the tasks and requirements, the job match might not be far off. However, keep in mind that the organisational environment and culture is half as, if not more, important than the job activities. If you are looking for an informal and family-like atmosphere at work, but the job you have recognised yourself in is offered in a large scale multinational, you might consider continuing your search. You can find out a lot about a company and its culture by looking at the information on their website and social media channels and of course by talking to their employees, for example at career fairs such as BCF Career Event.


Have you found the job that suits your competencies and wishes? Then it is time to focus on your application. An application usually starts with some research, followed up by drawing up an application letter and CV. After sending the application letter and CV to the company, you will hopefully receive an invitation for a job interview and sometimes also assessments. This may eventually result in a job offer.


Research is one of the most important things you can do before you start writing your application letter. You have probably already done some research into the company or vacancy before deciding on applying for the job. However, some more thorough research is always a good idea. The goal of the research is to become better informed about the company and the vacancy, so you can match your application letter and CV to it. Suggestions for research include: analysing the company’s website, search for people within your network that have experience with the vacancy or organisation or even make a call to the organisation to acquire more information about the open vacancy.

Cover letter

A cover letter gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself in your own personal way. In some cases the covering letter is part of the first selection round, before your CV has even been read. Include in your letter your motivation for applying for the vacancy, a short personal introduction and your suitability for the particular job in question. Tailor your experience and skills to the requirements of the job ad and give specific examples to make it more concrete. Always finish by referring to your attached CV and show your gratefulness to the employer for considering your application.


First thing to understand is that a CV is not your whole professional life history, it is your own personal business card. It is therefore important that you are able to identify which (job) experience is worth mentioning. Your most recent education or work experience is not always the most relevant to mention, it all depends on the position you are applying for. Adjusting your standard CV format per job application is therefore highly recommended. Keep in mind that a recruiter often scans your CV in only a few seconds. Therefore, keep it short and clearly structured, stick to two pages maximum. Indicate your relevant work experience and include specific expertise such as knowledge of particular systems. Especially when your CV is too long, try to eliminate the information that doesn’t directly relate to the vacancy you are applying for.


Digital CV

It is important to be aware of your social media account(s) before sending your application. Recruiters use social media in their search for talent and often check the accounts of the applicants. Make sure the information on your account matches with your CV, but above all, that it does not conflict with it.

Now you have finished your cover letter and CV, send your application before the deadline date to the respective person. Cross your fingers and wait for either an invitation or rejection. If you have not received a confirmation, you can proactively call and to ask if your application has been received.

Preparation is the key

As soon as you have received an invitation for a job interview, you are one step closer to the job. But keep in mind that you don’t know how many applicants have been invited for an interview. Good preparation for the interview is a must.

First of all, conduct further research into the organisation and the position you are applying for. You can definitely expect questions like: ‘Why would you like to work for our company?’ and ‘What do you expect of this job/position?’ Secondly, be aware of yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses and which unique selling points will make you more suitable for the job than other candidates? Think of (real-life) examples which clarify a particular strength, weakness or unique selling point. This so called ‘STAR-method’ is often used by recruiters.

Time to shine!

The day of your job interview has come, time to shine! A good first impression is everything, so make sure you dress properly and show confidence in your body posture. Show up prepared by taking a copy of your CV and, depending on the job, copies of your certificates with you. Every person has their strengths and weaknesses. It is better to recognise these and be honest instead of saying the things the recruiter wants to hear. Most important of all is to be yourself during the interview. Good luck
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