The key to a successful job application is to make sure it is comprehensive, demonstrates the skills, experience and knowledge required by the job and follows the instructions set out in the application process.
As a parent, you can provide a helping hand to make sure your child has ticked these boxes in their application. In this guide, we explain how.
'How to help your child with job applications'
1. Read our guides so you know what a good application looks like
We have plenty of self-help resources on applying for jobs written especially for young people, covering the whole process – from filling in application forms, writing cover letters and preparing CVs to getting ready for job interviews and finding referees.
Familiarise yourself with the advice in these guides so you can provide support to your child should they ask for it. You can also select relevant guides and suggest them to you child as recommended reading if they are struggling with particular aspects of the job application process.
Encouraging your child to carry out some basic research before they begin the process of writing their application and going to interview will save them time and help them avoid making silly mistakes. All of our resources are collected together in one place, making it easy for them to access and filter them.
You can view all of our guides here.
2. Know what the employer is asking for
Read the job advert, job description, person specification and job application form and make sure you have a good understanding of what is required. For example:
- What are the required skills, experience and attributes?
- Is there anything you think is key for your child to highlight in their job application?
Take notes as you read through and when you go on to check your child’s application, compare your child’s answers to your notes to ensure they have ticked all the boxes.
3. Check the content of your child’s application
It’s vital that there is a second pair of eyes ready to look over your child’s job application. Encourage your child to share their application so you can help them make sure it’s in tip-top shape. First, review the quality of the content of your child’s application, considering these questions:
- Are there concrete examples in the application? Specific examples help provide persuasive, clear evidence that your child demonstrates the skills, knowledge and experience required in the job description. It’s one thing to make the claim, “I have excellent people skills” – but what employers are looking for is an example which provides evidence of this skill from your child’s previous work, school or home life.
- Are they demonstrating skills, knowledge and experience? Similarly, if the job description states that candidates must have “outstanding problem-solving skills”, successful candidates will provide concrete examples of how they demonstrate this skill. For example, a school or college leaver could talk about their use of problem solving in A-level maths or another subject, evidencing their claim with reference to their grades and particular tasks. Better still, they would add a practical example which is more applicable to the workplace, such as in a Saturday job or in an extra-curricular activity or hobby.
- Is anything missing you think would enhance the application? As we have indicated above, concrete examples of past experience or practice are really helpful in providing evidence to employers that candidates are capable, competent and experienced. Is there anything that your child has missed off which could enhance their application? For example, do they have a hobby or talent in which they use a particular skill that they have not talked about?
- Has your child covered everything required on the application? Check through the job advert, job description, person specification and application form to make sure your child hasn’t missed any key requirements. For example, have they referenced all required skills and included examples of how they demonstrate these skills?
- Is the cover letter the right length? If your child has included a cover letter, make sure it is on one side of A4 and follows the right format for a letter, using the right salutation and address format, as well as the following the correct letter structure.
4. Proof check your child’s application
Employers are on the lookout for spelling and grammatical errors in job applications. These suggest a lack of care or interest in the role because they make it look like the candidate hasn’t bothered to check their application. They also suggest poor professionalism and lack of attention-to-detail - attitudes and skills which are important to employers in any role.
Check the following things:
- Are there any spelling or grammatical errors in the application?
- Are there factual mistakes or inaccuracies, such as an incorrect date or the wrong skill referenced?
- Is each part of the application within the word count?
For more advice on how to support your child with their careers journey, check out our dedicated section for parents.