How to apply for a conservation job

Notes for candidates for job vacancies and internships

Applying for a job or internship is a serious business and in order to save you wasted effort, and us time, we have put together these handy hints based on the experience of the World Land Trust when receiving applications. These tips are equally useful when applying for posts with other organisations within the conservation sector. As you probably know conservation jobs are often popular; with fierce competition for each advertised post. By following these hints you may stand a much better chance of getting an interview.

We receive a large number of applications for each post, and many of them are immediately disqualified because the applications are badly presented, the candidates do not fulfil the criteria we have specified or the applications do not address the post as advertised.

The following notes are offered as guidelines on making an application to the World Land Trust.  Please be aware that failure to follow these guidelines will seriously affect the chances of your application being successful.

1. Read the details of the job: make sure you fit the criteria

  • Don’t waste time applying for a post that lists as ‘essential’ experience you do not have (this is not applicable to interns; see role descriptions for preferred experience).
  • All World Land Trust vacancies are open only to people who are entitled to work in the EU.  Non British or EU nationals who are not entitled to work in the UK will not be considered. For further information see the UK Border Agency website.

2. Research the post: make sure your application, and especially the covering letter, is tailored to the post

  • The World Land Trust website is full of information about the Trust’s work and the structure of the organisation, and yet we frequently have applications which fail to mention any interest or experience in wildlife and conservation.

3. If applying for an internship, consider how the job fits in to your career plan

  • It is not appropriate to use the internship as ‘filler’ until you find paid employment; We take the commitment of applicants to a 6 month voluntary training period very seriously, and we expect applicants to do the same. It is important that you believe, and can demonstrate, that an internship would fill the gaps in your career and not just fill a gap in your time!

4. First impressions – Before the interview

  • The first point of contact that you have with an organisation will create an impression which may be noted down and passed on and considered as part of your application.
  • Applications by email are fine. It is a good idea to save your attached covering letter and CV in Microsoft Word 2003 or earlier, or as a PDF to ensure your potential future employers can open it.
    • Do address the email appropriately and politely
    • Do keep your email short and to the point, especially if you are attaching a covering letter – it is fine to say Dear -, please find attached my CV and covering letter for the position of …… Yours sincerely, –
  • Do change your email address if necessary ([email protected] will not impress a potential employer!)

5. Presentation of your application

  • Present your application in the form specified in the advert: for a paid vacancy this is usually a covering letter with CV.
  • The covering letter should use the correct form of address (i.e. address your application to the correct person within the organisation) and a professional style.
  • Use an appropriate typeface: usually 11pt or 12pt font size, not smaller.
  • Keep your application as concise as possible:
    • Covering letter: ideally keep this to single page, highlighting why you are applying for the post and what you would bring to it: don’t simply repeat your CV
    • CV: should be 2 pages or 3 at most, and must include your contact details, qualifications, and relevant employment experience
  • Proofread all materials you submit for application carefully (and don’t just rely on Spellchecker).

6. You are not the only applicant

  • Please bear in mind that when you make a job application you may be one of between 20 and 40, or maybe more, applicants. This thought alone should make you extra careful when writing an application!
  • You will make the job of reviewing applications much easier if you follow common sense guidelines for layout.

7. Finally …

  • If it’s not worth doing properly, don’t do it at all! A careless application will do you more harm than good. Never think ‘I haven’t got time to do it properly, but I’ll just get my application in’. Your application is the first proof of your ability to complete a task that a potential employer will read, if it’s sloppy or if you have ignored the guidelines don’t expect to be asked to interview.

8. Some links we strongly recommend, to help you find job application advice: