See through the eyes of a recruiter: Change the way you write an application

Reading this could improve your chance of getting on the UniJob bank

See through the eyes of a recruiter: Change the way you write an application

Writing applications can be difficult, especially if it isn’t something you have had much practice at. One thing that can be beneficial is to think like the recruiter, and I’m going to tell you one approach recruiters use when looking at applications.

My name is Hannah and I am one member of the UniJob team who will be reviewing your application if you apply for UniJob this year. Last year we received over 450 applications and we could only interview a handful of those applicants. Therefore you need to stand out and not get tripped up along the way.

If you don’t know what UniJob is, go to our website for more information.

So, here’s how I shortlist an application.

First: After I have downloaded the candidate details form, the first thing I do is scan through the form. I check for any sections that are incomplete: if you haven’t bothered to include your education or employment history (don’t forget volunteering) or provided a one word answer to one of our questions then you’re not going to make the cut. I then check for grammatical and spelling mistakes. If you have more than five or six mistakes, or haven’t completed the form, you won’t meet the essential criteria for “attention to detail” and your form will end up in the Unsuccessful pile. So remember, capitalise every “I” and proofread your application for typos.

Second: Next, I consider the other Essential criteria. You must meet all the Essential criteria to get through to interview. They are:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication skills (written and spoken)
  • Ability to work autonomously
  • Flexible approach to work

I will look at your education and employment, but the main place I will look for proof of you having these skills is in the Skills and Experience section. I will be looking for you to evidence the skills fully. Let’s take teamwork as an example. If you haven’t mentioned team working, or have given me an irrelevant example, you will not meet the criteria. If you have given me an example, but either not explained it or only partially explained it you will only partially meet the criteria. For example, you might have told me about team working in your job as a shop assistant but not given me a specific example of a time when you worked in a team. But if you have given me a well explained example providing details about the situation, you will fully meet the criteria.

I want an example that is detailed and well explained. You may even want to give more than one example. Remembering the STAR method may help you to check that you have completed the required amount of information. STAR stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result and it can be used when you give an example from your experience. You can find out more about how to use this in the Careers and Employability CV and Cover Letter Guide

I will look at each of the Essential criteria in the same way.

Third: I will look to see if you have fully explained all of the Essential criteria and, if I see you have, I will then move on to the Desirable criteria. But if any Essential criteria have only been partially met or not met, I will still look at Desirable criteria in order to provide you with the best feedback possible, but it means that your application process is over and you have not been successful.

Fourth: Next, I will look at the desirable criteria. You aren’t required to meet the Desirable criteria to get through to interview but it is best to evidence as many of them as possible. If I have a large number of candidates who meet the Essential criteria I will consider the Desirable criteria in my decision-making. The Desirable criteria are:

  • ECDL or similar IT qualification
  • Customer service experience
  • Ability to prioritise and manage your time
  • Good IT skills
  • Ability to use your initiative

I will consider these in the same way as described for the Essential criteria above.

Fifth: I will look at all of the criteria and make a decision about whether I would recommend you for interview. Once all the applications have been looked at I will make a decision with the rest of the team about who to put through to interview. I will then be in contact with you. Remember we are reading approximately 400 applications so this can take a bit of time!

The following link will take you to the application: Remember to check out the job description before applying.


Good luck. I hope to be reading your application soon and maybe meeting with you after that.


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