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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

Applications & Interviews

Securing a part-time job can be just as difficult as finding graduate work. There can often be a high level of competition from other students and local workers, so in order to be successful your application will need to stand out.

There are some simple ways you can ensure that your application - whether it’s a CV, cover letter or application form - is as good as it can be:

  • Read the job description as carefully as possible and make a note of any particular skills or experience the employer is looking for. You must make reference to each of these skills within your application.
  • When making reference to a particular skill within your application, it is important to explain how you have developed or displayed the skill with a good example from your past experiences. Your experience can come from paid work, volunteering, an extra-curricular activity, membership of a sports team or society or from a personal hobby or interest. The key is to ensure that the example you use is the most relevant one for the job you’re applying for. If you have the space you can provide additional examples elsewhere in your application.
  • Always proof-read your application before you send it to the employer, or ask somebody you trust to read it for you. A large proportion of applications contain spelling and grammatical errors, and this may be used as a simple way for employers to reject candidates if they receive a high number of applications.
  • Always apply in the manner specified in the advert; it’s usually a good idea to include a cover letter to support your CV unless it is specifically stated that one is not necessary.
  • Keep your CV to a maximum of two sides of A4, and your cover letter to a maximum of one side of A4. It’s important that both are well presented and easy to read, with the most important and relevant information near the beginning of the document.
  • Always tailor your CV and cover letter to the role and requirements of each employer. It is obvious when reading a CV that hasn’t been tailored, and it is likely that a generic CV will not adequately meet the criteria of a specific job.
  • If you are required to complete an online application form, make sure you’re aware if there is a word or character limit to each answer so you have an idea of how much information you are expected to provide. Always ensure you answer each question comprehensively, with examples where necessary.
  • Some vacancies may close early if there are a high number of applications. Make sure you’re aware of closing dates and apply as soon as possible to avoid missing out on opportunities that close early.
  • It is not necessary to include a photograph, your date of birth, age or marital status on your CV. This information should not be used in a selection process, and will take up space on your CV that could be put to better use.
  • Once you have submitted your application, allow at least two weeks after the closing date before you follow up with an email or telephone call. Many employers are too busy to look at applications straight away and so don’t worry if there is a delay before you receive a response.
  • If your application is unsuccessful, ask the employer for feedback. They may not be willing to provide any, but if they are you could get some good ideas on how to improve your applications in the future.