Applying for courses and work

Applying for courses or work is a kind of marketing exercise for you. For each, you will need to research the market (courses and jobs) and know the product – YOU! Preparation is crucial; to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail!

You will need to keep updating your information over time. You may already have a ‘Progress File’ from school or college. Whatever system you have, make full use of it.

In this section, we give you some advice on how to go about making effective applications to courses and jobs. The principles behind completing application forms and CVs are the same:

  • Gather evidence about your qualifications and other achievements – formal and informal
  • Give yourself time – do several drafts before preparing the final version
  • Get someone else to read the form, CV and/or letter.

Applications to higher education have slightly different requirements. You will find advice in the application form sections on personal statements and references.

Every application form and CV that you submit will be different, at least to some degree. Time spent gathering evidence of your transferable skills (i.e. your abilities that are not confined to specific subjects e.g. communication skills) as well as your academic achievements will improve the quality of your applications. Also, being clear about your strengths and achievements will show through at interviews and in any meetings with people who can help further your career.

Employers are looking for people who will fit into their organisation, have a positive attitude, relate well with other members of the team and have a willingness to learn.

You will need to gather evidence of your understanding of, and commitment to, the field to which you are applying. Of course this could come from qualifications gained or studied, but it could be backed up by projects or coursework (detailing any specific assignments that you have particularly enjoyed) or out of school/college activities that you have taken part in.

As a school student, further commitment to your subject could be demonstrated by your participation in a school club or competition. Alternatively, providing the title and a short summary of your project you have completed will demonstrate a greater level of enthusiasm and appreciation of your specialist subject to any prospective employer.

Examples of external activities could include: