Careers Advice

Applying for Jobs

Getting a job is no easy task, but here's a handy formula for calculating your odds of success...

The Job Formula

J = N x P x A x Q x L

J - Successful Job application

Getting a job is no easy task, it is a long and stressful process, ask anyone with a successful career and they will still moan about searching for jobs. So you need to know how to make sure you make the most of this time and write successful applications.

N - Number of jobs applied for

To some degree this factor needs to be addressed sensibly, without applying to jobs you are unlikely to get one (not impossible) however if you go too far to the extreme and fire the same CV at any company hiring you again are unlikely to get a job without a CV and application that are not tailored to that job. So do your research find the jobs that interest you and make thoughtful well composed applications.

P - Planning

Plan, timing is everything. Don't get so distracted by perfecting one application that you forget to apply to another. Before applying to jobs sit down for a while in front of the computer and document what jobs you are interested in, find their deadlines and assign free time to making well thought out applications. Don't forget to check your inbox/trash for emails about interviews and online assessments.

A - The Application

Time to write your application, hopefully you have given yourself lots of free time to do this. Sit down without distractions and tailor your CV to the job. Most graduate schemes and large companies will have dedicated online application forms where you submit a CV and fill in boxes and answer questions but this is typically in place of a cover letter so they have all the info they might want. Otherwise you may attach a cover letter to your application, advice on how to write this can be found here.

Q - Qualification and suitability

This is one of the most important parts and requires a lot of forethought, the content of your CV is driven by you achievements and activities. In order to create an attractive CV and application you need to get involved in the right things. You need an applicable degree for the job (although some jobs are quite flexible on what degrees will be accepted, if you are unsure email and find out). You want to fill your CV with as many relevant activities as possible from lab projects to summer internships, student projects to roles where you held responsibility for a group. Another key to success which is increasing in popularity is networking, the dreaded word that might just get you a job. By attending events and making positive impressions you might get noticed, that casual chat you had with one of the interviewers six moths ago at a conference might win you a sympathy vote if you are having a bad interview  (a vote is a vote). The biggest message I can convey is get involved preferably with the something related to the field of your job application but otherwise in anything that interests you.

L - Luck

At the end of the day luck will to some degree come into it, it might not be a major contribution but the internet dropping 45 minutes before the application deadline (it happened to me), playing the same obscure sport as one of the interviewers or another candidate failing to turn up at an interview may make or break your application.


Portia Bowman

Portia works at Thales Alenia Space UK is a graduate of the University of Leicester (Space Exploration Systems MSc (SEEDS) and Physics with Astrophysics BSc).

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