One of the easiest way to land your dream job is by interning. The following is a practical approach to land your first internship position. I used this approach to land 2 posts in the past and I would like to share them with you as my contribution to your career development.
Before I proceed, this is why you should start your career by interning with organizations within your industry.
Advantages of graduate internship
An internship position is easier to secure than a full time job
It places you at a higher competitive advantage in the job market
An internship experience will prepare you for the job proper
It will help you grow a quality network of professionals in your industry
Opportunity to earn while you learn (some organizations pay their interns well)
Even if you want to own a business, it is a shortcut to getting practical experience before starting.
The approach I used to land two internship opportunities
I decided on the industries where I would like to work. One of my highest choices was the Legal industry.
I conducted a Google search for top law firms in Nigeria
I narrowed my search to the ones in Lagos and two other states in South West
I visited the websites of my choice law firms and checked the ‘Practice’, ‘About’ and ‘Our People’ pages to get familiar with the values of the firms and also get to know the decision makers.
I then sent the message below to the second most senior person on ‘Our People’ page
I also attached my CV to the mail. If you don’t have any job experience, add your youth service or any position you held during school and list your duties.
I repeated the steps above for 10 law firms and followed up with one phone call, one email after 2 weeks.
The firm that was interested in my application got in touch with me.
The message I sent
Expression of interest to intern in your organisation as a (position)
My name is (my name). I am a graduate of (course) from (institution). I am interested in (my course in adjective form – e.g. Business Administration) and I admire your organization’s value on administration which is why I would like to intern with you.
In recent years, I have gathered both practical and theoretical know-how of business administration to some extent, as such, I am assuring you that I will be a valuable addition to your team throughout my stay.
Some of my skills are (list up to 4 skills). I am a (list attributes – e.g, fast learner, good listener, etc).
If you have submitted job application for the same position up to five times and you did not get the job or at least an invitation for assessment, you are likely a victim or making one or more of the 5 job application mistakes listed below:
Your CV was not well laid out
Your CV had contents that disqualified you
The company received too many responses and did not even open your mail
You were not qualified for the job
Your cover letter was not good enough
Below are the ways that the aforementioned instances can affect your chances of getting a job.
5 job application mistakes and how to avoid them
1. Your CV is not well laid out
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – Leonardo da Vinci
Keep your CV design simple. Even if you are a graphic artist, you are not required to show your skills visually on it.
Just a simple outline of your data is enough to qualify you for the next stage. What matters most is the content, but how do you expect the hiring manager to go through it if it is not well organised?
Remember that you are not the only applicant. There will surely be a whole lot of CVs to go through. If the text on yours are not legible without stress, it would be discarded no matter how qualified for the job you are.
2. Your CV contains contents that disqualified you
Is your email firstname.lastname@example.org? Cool. But your employer wants to see your ruggedness in your performance not through your email address. A simple email address will do. You could use your first name and surname or abbreviate either of the two. This is called maturity.
Your CV is the first impression of you that your potential employer has. You should come across as a serious individual that would add value to the organisation.
Other items that could disqualify you for a job position are
Religion: use the space for relevant data such as the languages you speak.
Age: if the vacancy advert indicates a particular age and you have aged beyond it, do not forget to remove your date of birth completely. In fact, it is not necessary for you to add date of birth unless you are submitting an application in a required format.
Skills & attributes
Copying and pasting of generic skills from online resources: the hiring manager would surely recognise it.
Be careful how you indicate your personal attributes. Instead of saying ‘I am a strong believer in my church/mosque, and I can face and overcome any storm’, say, ‘I am an optimistic individual who always sees challenges as avenue to apply my skills and go outside my comfort zone in achieving great results’.
Grade: If your grade falls into lower class and below, leave it outside of your CV. Grade is one of the criteria that most organisations still shortlist applicants with. You might be qualified for the job, but a hiring manager that has decided to shortlist with grades may not have the time to go through the rest of your document, especially if he has a lot of documents to review.
It is better to state just one relevant hobby, than to list hobbies that would not help you in your job performance. Remember that your aim of submitting the application in the first place is to convince the organisation that you can perform the job they advertised for. e.g. adding chatting to your hobby on your CV if you are applying for the post of a secretary might affect your chances of getting the job. Or do you expect them to employ you so that you could chat away their trade secrets?
Other contents that could disqualify you include using short forms to write your words, or using informal language.
3. The company received too many responses and did not even open your mail (not your mistake)
This case is very likely based on the high volume of responses to job vacancy due to scarcity of jobs. However, if you do not get favourable responses from job applications, check your CV for other issues.
If you are confident that it is fine, then, to avoid being the one left out in all situations, go the extra mile when applying for jobs.
If the hiring organisation is within your reach, you could submit your application in person. You could also follow up via email after one week of applying.
To stand a higher chance of being invited for assessment, if the vacancy advert states that applications will be acknowledged, then you should follow up before the deadline if you do not get the acknowledgement.
Another way to scale this hurdle is to contact the recruitment unit of the hiring organisation via phone call. Do not do this if you are unable to communicate smartly. Remember that you are calling a decision maker not your personal person.
You could write down your speech and practice it before making the call. After introducing yourself, go straight to the point and let them know that you are calling to confirm that your application to their recent vacancy advert (mention the exact position you applied for) was received.
4. You are not qualified for the job
If you do not get feedback after applying to several jobs it may simply be because you are not qualified for the jobs. Make sure you apply to jobs that you qualify for in terms of:
If all of the above are listed in a job advert and you do not fall in any of the required categories, do not bother to apply. Chances are, a lot of qualified candidates would apply and the hiring manager would not even bother with you.
If you would like to work in a particular company that does not have any opening for your skill set or qualification, it is safer for you to send cold applications listing your skill set and the values that you can add to your preferred department in the organisation.
5. Your cover letter was not good enough
This is a perfect way of shooting yourself in the legs. Your cover letter is your first impression. If it is not impressive, the hiring manager will not access your interest, unless, you are the only applicant. Who wants to work in an organisation where only one person responded to their job advert anyway.
Use your application letter to sell yourself to your potential employer. Do not talk about where you were born or the number of people in your family, nobody is interested, at least not your employer. Instead highlight your qualifications, work experience, and skills.
Tell them how you can apply your knowledge to achieve positive results at the position they want to fill. Express how you can help them reach their goals and add value to their organisation.
Lastly, always review your job search documents from time to time. Tailor them to the position you are applying for at any given moment. You could also apply for jobs even if you are not thinking of changing jobs. This would help you know your status in the labor market and how you have improved in your career.
I will start posting job updates on here from January 2018. Subscribe below to be the first to receive them in your mailbox. Click here to download my editable CV template for free. It is plainly designed and highly effective in helping scale the selection stage.
Now that you are aware of the common 5 job application mistakes, how do you plan to overcome them and land your dream job in 2018?