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Top Ten Tips for Job Applicants

Sound advice applying for vacancies with us or anybody, really.

Over the course of a year, we read hundreds of job applications.  We always undertake the CV-sifting process ourselves and every application is read by at least two ND staff members.  Based on our experience, we’ve put together our top tips for applicants.  These won’t guarantee you an interview, but they will almost certainly help you do justice to your interests and experience.  It’s also worth noting that we don’t drop our criteria for internship recruitment compared to permanent roles.

1. Keep it simple! Job applications seem to bring out the thesaurus in some people. There’s no need for over-complicated sentences or grandiose statements. Write clearly and succinctly in language you would use every day. Except sweary words. Don’t use those.
2. Back up your claims with original examples, if possible.  When asked about time management and deadlines, most graduates will immediately reach for examples from their academic experience e.g. a dissertation.  We think of deadlines in units of an hour, not a week or month. What experiences do you have that would relate to that sort of time pressure? 
3. Sadly, undertaking a module in British politics doesn’t make you an expert on devolution. We’re keen to know about your course content but if your knowledge has been supplemented by practical experience, that might give you the edge.  
4. Your covering letter and CV should be focused on the specific criteria of the job.  In the words of Spinal Tap – all killer, no filler. Focus on info that’s relevant and necessary and remember that for a company like ours, what you can do is JUST as important as what you know.
5. Get our names right!  If the job advert gives the name of the person you are applying to, use that name and make sure you get it right every time. It’s often the first thing the recipient of the email will read and it makes an impact. Get the name wrong and that’s not a great impact.
6. Everyone recycles job applications. That’s fine, but you might want to make sure that your covering letter doesn’t become your ‘stump speech’, fixed in its phraseology or structure irrespective of the target vacancy.  Think about the criteria we’ve set out and your experiences and order them appropriately.

7. Be yourself. Communicate who you are and what you’re all about in your own words.  Job hunting is a serious business but we’re not looking for drones.  If you live and breathe politics that’s fine, but if it’s a career choice not a lifestyle that’s also fine.

8. Being party political does not necessarily disadvantage you from a job which requires you to be politically neutral during working hours. Demonstrating insight into the political process will almost certainly be valuable, but we’ll also need to be convinced that you can write and analyse from an impartial position as well.

9. Proof, proof, proof and proof again.  We read lots of applications which are perfect in their spelling and grammar but there in the two-line covering email will be a typo. For our working requirements, your ability to stay vigilant in the just-before-deadline email is where we would look to judge accuracy under pressure.  Yes, everyone can slip up, but typos will almost certainly fast-track your application to the ‘No’ pile.

10. If applying to NDW in future, mention this blog post! You’ll get bonus points for doing your homework.

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