You‟ve found the job or course that you want to apply for. Now it‟s time to market yourself successfully and maximise your chance of obtaining that all-important interview. This Information Leaflet gives a brief guide on how to put together great applications. For more detailed help, have a look at the Getting a Job section of our website, Research and target! Carefully tailoring your application to the organisations that you are applying to is far more likely to be successful than firing off many nearidentical applications. Research the organisation thoroughly, and use the information you gain. Demonstrate your understanding of the job, the employer and the sector in which it operates in your application, and allow your motivation and interest to come through. Research the organisation and sector at the Careers Service  Employer (red) Files and Career Briefings.  Oxford Careers Network – there may already be an Oxford graduate working for the employer, whose brains you can pick. Use the online database to get contact details and read what they have to say about their job, and perhaps contact them personally, Elsewhere  Employers‟ websites – read them!  Annual Reports – some are published on employer websites, some are held on file at the Careers Service, others you will need to request from the organisation itself.  The online LexisNexis news service is a useful way of researching companies and accessing recent press reports. Access via with Oxford Single Sign-on.  is a five-day international news archive, available free of charge. Useful if you are away from Oxford and cannot use LexisNexis. Searches 6,000 news services.  Attend presentations. Many recruiters visit Oxford in Michaelmas Term – don‟t just go and listen; talk to them afterwards. See the What‟s On section of our website for details; log in to the password-protected area of the website. Read the AGCAS Industry Insights, .

Work out what they are looking for … take stock of your skills and experience Analyse the vacancy information and other employer literature to discover the skills, competencies and experience required for the job. Make sure that your application contains evidence that you have these qualities (or at least the potential to acquire them!). A useful tactic is to list their requirements, and jot down which areas of your life provide evidence that you meet each requirement. Keep this to hand when you are completing your application, and make sure that you have everything covered.

The OXFORD Effect
There is no doubt that an Oxford education is appealing to many employers. They will assume that you are academically gifted, with excellent A-level scores. Don‟t forget also to highlight the other benefits your time at Oxford has given you: The tutorial system:  Ability to see both sides of an argument  Thinking on your feet  Explaining your views to others  Presenting information  Coping with pressure Personal study:  Time management  Research skills  Analytical and critical thinking  Identifying key points  Summarising/synthesising information  Structuring arguments Oxford also presents a wealth of opportunity to get involved in college societies and to take on positions of responsibility – all potentially application-enhancing.


Kent AF4 2RH Tel.ox. Quest International. unpaid.  Responsible for budget allocation. Add course detail.  European Tour 2004. Physics A. Work Experience Summer 2006 Finance Department. 11pt minimum for main text. work with student societies … ): Education Work experience Qualifications Employment history Scholarships. A good place to give evidence of the required competences. weddings and other social events.brown@merton. Six weeks mapping an area of 15 sq kms in the Cantabrian Mountains. Referees Dr Jo Bloggs. eg “working knowledge. fluent”. Use what suits you best. Parks Rd. Here are some ideas … Describing your experience: Other possible headings: (can include paid.  Processed invoices. if relevant. Awards Relevant experience Publications. analysed data and dealt with both customers and suppliers. Quest is currently pursuing a claim with regard to lost revenue due to the Iraqi conflict. unless specifically requested or really relevant. Northern Spain. basic. Times New Roman).  Researched and prepared response for the United Nations Claims Commission. Positions of responsibility 2005-2006 President of the Oxford Geology Society. Additional skills Languages: IT Skills: French. My degree has given me opportunities for travel in Europe. Any academic awards could go here. of Earth Sciences. Maths A. basic 0794728562 Nationality: UK DOB: 24.CVs Addresses – this needs to be clear. Ashford. Kent. OX1 3PR. Avoid just listing skills – let your description speak for Date of birth is now optional due to recent anti-age legislation.  Updated Expenses Database. and send them a copy of your application. Oxford. 01234 546831 Your unique document – there are no rules about the headings you must use. Positions of Responsibility. Northampton. experience Interests & activities Other experience Additional skills Voluntary work Languages. if available. etc.01. good written and spoken. Give an indication of your level of skill. Geolsoc. One or two full sides. Ashford. Emphasise the most relevant aspects of your experience. Northampton High School A levels: Geography A. 2002-2003 Other possible headings are Relevant Experience. Masters Project. and emphasise your achievements/ responsibilities. Put in grades or expected grades. Quest International. NN3 1KL charlotte. Use bullet points.  Led a committee responsible for organising seminars. 1995-2002 University of Oxford MEarthSci Earth Sciences Independent Fieldwork Project.  Liaised with site engineers to solve technical problems. Presentations Positions of responsibility Conferences/courses attended Teaching/research/publishing/media/legal. GCSEs: 8 at A*. IT . Employment History. Others may come with your degree details or interests. printed on to good quality paper. Proficient at MS Office applications and internet use. Charlotte Brown 57 Worthington Road. Start with the most recent. 01865 2771234 Dr Ellie Phant. Laboratory based. There’s no need to list all those GCSE subjects and grades. Gap Year placement with Shires Aggregates  Testing and sampling aggregates used in highways. 2 at A. Spanish. but can be compact. speakers and social events. Interests & activities Travelling: Music: During my gap year I travelled extensively in the Far East. redesigned and tested new Expense Claim form. Referees – not “references”! Ask them first. Lead alto sax player and founding member of Mertz Swing Band  play at local venues. not just the activity. Give your term and vacation Education addresses. Dept. Tel.84 Font – stick to one clear font throughout (eg Arial. etc. Choose headings that best display your relevant experience and skills to the potential employer. 2003-2007 Make your name stand out – you don’t need to write “curriculum vitae”. including Maths and English.

vitae. Student Affairs. Look out for business 2000).ukcisa. It is recommended that you check with UKCISA: The UK Council for . eg at the Said Business School or through community education. www. work outside of academia (from organising department/college events or society treasurer positions to bar work).75 out of max 4. drawing on the extensive transferable skills you will have gained from your extra study.0 680 on GMAT (top 5%) International Baccalaureate Diploma Total Points: 41 (out of 42) Higher: Maths (6) may be able to Work Permit status Employers find it useful to know about your eligibility to work in the UK.3rd-class degrees. You may need to include further sections (eg training report writing presenting networking Demonstrating ‘commercial awareness’ Include any experience of budget management. you will need to help an employer understand what your qualifications mean.britishcouncil. etc.CVs – International International students applying in the UK Non-UK qualifications If your educational system is different from that of the UK (1st. Have a look at the excellent Vitae website for more advice for doctoral researchers and research staff on presenting your skills and achievements on a CV.3) International www. CVs – Postgraduates The advice given in this Information Leaflet is relevant to postgraduates as well as undergraduates. German (7) Standard: English Lit (7). available for reference at the Careers Service. budgeting for equipment/fieldwork/resources. and the NARIC (www. Emphasise any involvement in grant proposals.eurograduate. For other sectors you must adapt your CV to meet with the interests of the employer. fundraising. Nationality: French & US dual nationality (with right to work throughout the EEA) Nationality: Canadian (eligible to work in UK under TWES scheme) Nationality: Indian & British (by marriage) Nationality: Chinese (work permit required) Applications outside the UK Styles of CV vary greatly from country to country. USA BA in Political Science Grade Point Average (GPA) 3. and if you already have the right to work in the There are often changes to the rules affecting international students and recent graduates wishing to work in the UK. Economics (7) Technische Universität Berlin Mathematics (equivalent to BA level) “Diplomvorprüfung” Final results: Very good (1. Consult The Global Resume Guide (Mary Anne Thompson. A-levels and GCSEs). Wiley & Sons. Give them your conferences attended. For more information about styles across Europe. see the career planning area of www.2nd. then say so. presenting two (or more) degrees in a way that maximises the impact of your experience while addressing any concerns that a potential employer may have can be challenging. Physics (7). Talk the talk – research the market that the employer operates in. so that you can talk their language.prospects. Think about joining societies with a business focus (eg OU Entrepreneurs). The British Council Office in your home country (access via www. or the country-specific information at www. Ancient Greek (7). research proposals).uk) can provide formal equivalence documentation. Boston University. However. who their customers/ clients/competitors are and any recent initiatives they have been involved in. For some roles (eg academia) a higher degree is virtually (Jobs and work > Explore working and studying abroad). Employer-friendly transferable skills typically developed by DPhil students: project management goal-setting prioritisation time management data management recording and presenting information self-reliance creativity and innovation self-discipline self-motivation teamwork instructing.

. The letter is usually the first thing that a recruiter will read. My enthusiasm for pursuing a career in this area stems from my interest in working with disadvantaged young people. when I graduate in 200-. and believe that I have the qualities and experience required to be successful in this area. and believe that I have the qualities and experience required to be a successful fundraiser. I believe that the marketing pack that I put together for potential sponsors played its part in attracting record levels of sponsorship. One of the aspects of voluntary work that particularly appeals to me is the spirit of teamwork that often accompanies it. to pay a brief visit to your firm during the summer to find out more about the work and to obtain your advice. which I saw advertised on the Oxford University Careers Service website.” “Stuart Exmouth of Buckell & Ballard suggested that I write to you. Follow the guidelines about CVs and covering letters given in this handout. I am in my final year at Oxford University.” Speculative applications You want to work in a particular sector. I have a long-standing interest in charity work. and my desire to make full use of my skills in motivating people to make a difference. and if English is not your first language. Birmingham B23 6TY Ms Gill Cooper OxiAID Carstairs Street London W12 6YG Dear Ms Cooper I wish to apply for the post of Fundraising Officer. and advise on how best to target particular sectors. As Marketing and Publicity Officer for the College Ball last year I was extremely pleased that we had more applicants for tickets than ever before. Having completed the second year of my course at Oxford University in Politics. This spirit has also been apparent on the working holidays that I have been on with the National Trust and English Heritage. OxiAID has established its credentials working in some of the most challenging areas of social aid. Philosophy and Economics. and I have enjoyed both the challenge of raising the profile of the society and my work with young people themselves. studying Mathematics. worthwhile goal is something that I find hugely enjoyable and rewarding. and the government funding recently awarded to the organisation is recognition of the success of its philosophy. because your contact will want to continue to be seen well by his/her old friend or important business contact. experience and knowledge Don‟t just repeat your CV Give evidence for your claims Tailor it! The ending Reiterate your desire to join them Add a “look forward to hearing from you”-type statement Don‟t forget to sign it! Get it checked! Ask a friend to read it through. eg "Mr/Ms Y has suggested my getting in touch with you". carefully tailored to the organisation(s) you are interested in. and a poor letter is likely to send your application whizzing on to the reject pile! Make your letter complement your CV – use it to highlight your relevant strengths. Yours sincerely Joseph Williams 10 November 2006 Success is more likely if you can bring in the name of your referrer. and modify the first paragraph to reflect the speculative nature of your enquiry. I have a long-standing interest in charity work. After my experiences with Jacari.Covering Letters A CV should always be accompanied by a covering letter. Y. ask a native English speaker to check your grammar. During my time on the committee the number of volunteers involved in the project has increased by 50%. if possible. I would like. I am interested in training as a chartered surveyor. for which I could be considered. The Duty Adviser at the Careers Service can give you feedback on the content and structure of your CV. but no jobs are advertised? A common approach is to put together a speculative application (usually CV and covering letter). this might form the text of your email. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my application with you. and look forward to hearing from you. I am attracted by the opportunity to help other young people and to develop my fundraising skills in such an environment. Set it out like a business letter 14 Bay Tree Road Don‟t exceed one side in length Write to a named person and keep a copy The opening paragraph Explain why you are writing Say where you saw the advert Introduce yourself Why this job/organisation? Explain why you are interested Tailor it carefully Demonstrate some knowledge of the organisation Avoid repeating text from their publicity information Why you? Use this paragraph to explain why you are well suited to the post Refer to relevant skills. if you are sending your CV as an email attachment. One of the most rewarding aspects of being at Oxford has been the work I have done with Jacari. “I am writing to enquire if you have any fundraising vacancies in your company. Motivating people to work with me towards a common.

and paste them on to the form. The analytical questions are usually the trickier to answer successfully. Answer the question that the recruiter has asked. If you can give a specific measure of your success. Use bullet points. Web-based forms usually have the same content as those on paper. Go back to the list of the competencies they are looking for. Plan out the space. download the form. . that you check regularly. Keep a copy. and check your spelling. then analyse the steps you took to reach it. concise sentences and action words. Examples Identify the qualities you possess which make you suitable for a career in … You must reassure the selector that you have given your choice of career careful thought and made a match between you and the job. but provide evidence of your competence in areas such as teamwork. Use a sensible username – bigpinkfluff@ might not convey the image you would like a prospective employer to have! Don‟t submit the form until you are happy with it (obviously). Vary your use of examples. Provide evidence for skills you have developed as a result. then do (eg increasing the membership of a society. raising money for charity). If possible. Perfecting your paper application form Photocopy the form to draft your answers. The questions on application forms can broadly be divided into two main types – those that seek straightforward factual information (name. what you have contributed and what you have got out of them Here you can give evidence of how you have used opportunities to develop relevant skills. and are able to look at yourself critically you are able to identify where you and the job or organisation are a good match Employers ask these questions for a reason – try to work out what it is in each case. Use the following guidelines to ensure that your answers are as good as possible: Don‟t give generalised answers. Keep it neat and tidy – make sure lines of writing are horizontal. and read the questions with these in mind. Briefly describe the goal. Writing that gets smaller and smaller to fit in your answer does not convey your brilliant organisational skills. qualifications. Save it frequently! Pay attention to the layout of your answers – many recruiters will print out a copy. When it’s completed … Get it checked – bring it along to a Duty Adviser at the Careers Service. and send the right form to the right employer! Tips for a frustration-free online experience Follow instructions carefully. Remember to sign it. not the question you„d like. type answers into a Word document. time management and so on. Why do they ask such tricky questions? Employers will use analytical questions to find out whether: you have the personal qualities and skills required you understand yourself. Use black ink (unless instructed otherwise). Give an example of when you set yourself a demanding goal and overcame obstacles to achieve it Concentrate on the process rather than a long description. etc) and those that seek to analyse whether you have the appropriate qualities.Application forms – paper and online There has been a dramatic shift towards online recruitment. Give details of your main extracurricular interests. Tackling tricky questions The old cliché that there are no right or wrong answers is true. Keep within any word limit given. and print off a paper copy on which to draft your answers. Be extra-careful with spelling – if you rely on a spell-checker (UK not USA!). but there are certainly good and poor answers. and the following guidelines can be used for both. Use your most recent experiences and achievements where possible. Check you‟ve provided a working email address. Give specific examples and evidence. and draw them from different areas of your life. Avoid just listing your interests.

Resource Centre . On the Careers Service website > Getting a Job > Applications > Types of Application www. the password-protected area of the website: WetFeet (access via Single Sign-on only) for company and industry profiles and career-related resources Going Global for worldwide job openings.doc .take-away leaflets and sheets. The Graduate Prospects website – may find that you have acquired these skills without even realising it! Advising individuals Arranging social events Calculating numerical data Chairing meetings Checking for accuracy Classifying records Coaching individuals Compiling figures Computer programming Constructing buildings Co-ordinating events Counselling people Customer correspondence Delegating responsibility Dispensing information Drafting reports Editing documents Handling complaints Inspecting Interpreting data Interviewing Maintaining records Managing staff Mediating between people Motivating others Operating equipment Organising people & work Persuading others Planning agendas Preparing charts/diagrams Promoting events Public speaking Raising funds Recording data Reviewing Selling products Setting up demonstrations Supervising staff/activities Teaching Further resources There are a great many resources available that cover the areas of CVs and applications. Accomplished Achieved Administered Advised Advocated Analysed Arbitrated Assembled Assimilated Assisted Audited Authorised Balanced Briefed Budgeted Captained Clarified Classified Coached Communicated Completed Conducted Conserved Consolidated Consulted Convinced Co-ordinated Counselled Created Dealt Debated Decided Delegated Delivered Demonstrated Designed Determined Developed Devised Directed Discovered Disproved Distributed Drew up Earned Edited Elected Eliminated Employed Enabled Encouraged Engineered Enjoyed Ensured Established Evaluated Examined Expanded Explained Explored Facilitated Forecast Formulated Fostered Founded Functioned Gained Galvanised Gathered Generated Handled Heightened Highlighted Identified Implemented Improved Increased Initiated Instituted Instructed Interpreted Interviewed Invented Launched Lectured Located Maintained Managed Marketed Maximised Mediated Modifed Motivated Navigated Negotiated Obtained Operated Organised Oversaw Participated Performed Planned Prepared Presented Prevailed Prioritised Processed Produced Promoted Raised Ran Realised Received Recognised Recommended Reconciled Recruited Reduced Represented Researched Reviewed Revised Saved Scheduled Set up Simplified Solved Supervised Targeted Transformed Translated Wrote Expanding your list of personal skills Look through the list below in the light of study.Action words for applications Descriptions of your activities are often more effective if they start with a verb in the past internships. industry profiles and countryspecific career information EXODUS (access via Single Sign-on only) Careers Europe for European and international careers information © Oxford University Careers Service October 2009 J:\Resources\Information Leaflets\Versions published in 2009_10\CVs and Applications Issue 7.prospects. reference books and videos. work experience. reference files on all aspects of applications. available from CareerConnect. The Careers Service also subscribes to the following activities and interests .

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