Last week I went through some of the applications for the post of Conservation and Communications Manager that we recently advertised for. It is truly depressing to see the incredibly low standard of the overwhelming majority of the applications. It would be a good idea if universities spent a bit more time training their graduates in how to write a CV and how to apply for a job.
The most common complaint I have is that the majority of applicants were simply sending off a standard CV, with no thought to the job they were applying for. Under "interests" there were lots of "reading", "walking", "music", and hardly any showing the slightest interest in wildlife. Consequently, since wildlife conservation is what the WLT is all about, those who did express an interest immediately shone through. Illiteracy in the form of spelling mistakes, the grocer's apostrophe, bad layout of letters, inappropriate addressing were all common -- which for a job of Communications Manager means certain rejection.
But, the most important factor to me was that very few applicants had taken the trouble to tailor their CV to the job they were applying for. It is not enough to write a long covering letter explaining why you are ideal for the job. The first thing the employer is likely to do is to scan down the CV and check that all the right boxes are ticked -- qualifications, experience, previous jobs -- in fact everything asked for in the advert. Only then does the covering letter get read. I may be an oddity, but I believe that a person's interests tell me almost as much about them as a potential employee, as the rest of the CV. Yet it is often the section which is give little or no attention. But think of it from an employers point of view -- there are dozens of CVs to examine, and once it is whittled down to 10 or 20, a decision has to be made, often between a group of applicants all of which have the required qualifications, and most of which have good experience etc. Anything you can add that makes you stand out, such as relevant interests, will help.
To assist future applicants, we have put together some hints and tips that we hope you will find helpful: Careers in conservation: How to apply for a conservation job. These tips are useful not just for applicants for positions with the WLT of course, but for anyone applying for a job within the conservation sector.
What do you think? Have we missed something out? Add your own tips as comments below.