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Week 4 - Alternative Applications

Posted: April 17 2020

Connor, BA Creative Writing (2019)

So call me old fashioned but when I prepare for a job application, it usually includes a CV. I spent around 2 weeks with the PDC careers consultants properly tailoring my CV to another job I wanted to apply to. Then came the day for me to smash this application out of the park and use my CV to stand out as a really good candidate for this role … only for the whole process to not require a CV! So far at least.

I want to tell you about this alternative style of application that will probably become more common and let you know how I made sure that the work on my CV didn’t go to waste.

I was applying to a Social Media Apprentice role at one of the big television companies and the online application started like any other with your personal details, referees and all that. Then one of the stages consisted of four questions and this formed the bulk of the application. At this point, it was clear that there wasn't going to be an opportunity to attach a PDF of my CV (useful tip: always send documents as PDFs to prevent formatting issues).

To make sure I was prepared, I used the PDC page on the intranet on application forms and this gave me tips on what to include in the application.

One of the questions asked how I’d benefit from the apprenticeship, the next asked why I wanted to work for that particular social media team, after that it was about who I think is doing social media to a good standard. The final and, by far, most difficult one asked me to sum myself up in a tweet (280 characters). Each of these questions had a word limit which is something you should pay attention to. If you have 300 words to use, don’t answer the question in 3. Use your words, but if you feel you have answered it to a good standard in 250 words, don’t waffle to fill the space. Find the balance in your answers. There are a few helpful videos on the PDC YouTube along with information from TARGETjobs that I used in preparation for this. The pressure was increased by the fact that the application would time-out if I didn't complete it in 90 minutes, so I set about ‘Mission-Impossible’ style to fill everything out in the allotted time.

Here is a quick overview of my application...

This is where my CV and cover letter came in useful. I already had a bullet-point list of everything I’ve accomplished that's relevant to the role. A large section of my cover letter was based around ‘why them?’ which answered one of the questions by itself. Some of the stand-out things on my CV didn’t seem too relevant in answering the question, but I had to make them relevant as this was my chance to make them see the things I wanted to show off in my CV. 

If you’re going for a social media role, then you’re clearly interested in social media. It shouldn't be too difficult to find someone who is doing it well. Just make sure that when you’re justifying your decision on a question like that, your analysis digs deeper than the surface.

Finally the dreaded ‘Tell us about you?’ style question. Dun Dun DUUUUUUUN!!!!!! In a tweet, you have to make a choice as to whether you're going to go funny or smart or whatever. There’s no wrong answer and, trying to avoid sounding cliché, you just have to go with what sums you up best. I chose to try and go funny and I’m really hoping it doesn’t fail … and no I’m not sharing what I said!

In short, even though this application didn’t require a CV, I really needed one to use as a ‘cheat sheet’ of sorts to make sure I included what I wanted to in the questions. Personally, I think it would be really useful to make a CV for each role you apply to, regardless of if it needs a CV or not, just so you know what you can offer the company and its role. I’ll keep you updated with how interviews come around during this time and how the job search progresses.

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