Sunday, 5 July 2015

Strengthening Your Job Application: Interview with Craig Burton, Managing Director of The Works Recruitment

lifestyle, career, jobs, advice, how to make a strong job application, what to put on CV, how to write a CV, interview tips, youwishyou, Craig Burton,

For those of you out there starting to look for jobs, whether you’ve just finished school, university, or an apprenticeship or even just looking for a job here are some top tips from Craig Burton, the Managing Director of The Works Recruitment in Leeds to help you stand out from the crowd, and the dos and don’ts of CV and application writing.

Q.) How would you advise someone to appropriately put their personality across in an application or interview?

A.) Always keep your CV quite factual, don’t go overboard with personality in a CV, and try not to talk in the past tense. Talk in terms of what you can bring to the team or environment of that work place... in terms of the covering letter, try and write how you would talk. A common question in an interview is where do you see yourself in 5 years time? So try and answer this in terms of you’ve already got the job. So when people ask you this make sure you don’t say, in a remote cottage in the countryside next to a radiator! People are always interested in what makes you smile, what makes you happy, or what you’re curious about. If I turned round to you and said, “right we need 5 of those and 2 of those” and you said “oh why’s that then?” I’d love that; I wouldn’t want someone to just say oh ok then. Somehow work in that curiosity in the application. Don’t just say I love learning new things, give examples of what.

Q.) What sticks out most for you on an application, both good and bad?

A.) Well the first thing is, not too much information. Use the KISS formation, Keep It Simple Stupid. I do look for good grammar, I don’t need a CV with flowers on it or graphics on it unless you were applying for a graphics designer or a creative role. I just want to see the basic information in a normal CV format. The most important thing for me  would be your achievements, what you’ve actually done. If you’ve won a prize, even picking the most blackberries in a blackberry picking competition, because it means you want to be first. This means you have a good competitive spirit, and you’re proud of your achievements. It could be anything, just to demonstrate you’re good at something. If you’ve not got any work related incidents, it could be something where you’ve taken control, or where you’ve shown leadership beyond authority, for example a team captain, anything you can translate to the job.

Q.) What would your advice be to those just coming out of education and they have no experience work wise but need to strengthen their application?

A.) 16-20 year olds tend to be quite shy, and often not curious, therefore I would demonstrate somewhere in my application that I’m eager to learn, to grow and research information. I would also put in some of the research you’ve already done, into the company for example... you’re demonstrating you have done the research and are clearly very interested in their company. It flatters companies to know you have taken the time to get to know them. So try and steer your application or interview into talking about them, for example “I’ve noticed you are the biggest employer/you’ve won most prizes etc.” Take care to research the role as well, don’t make your covering letter too generic and bland so they end up thinking you’ve sent the same one to lots of organisations. So basically if you don’t have experience don’t worry just demonstrate how eager you are.

Q.) Where would you suggest are the best places to look for jobs?

A.) First of all decide what it is you want to do, then research that role and organisations that have that role. Then you might want to have a list, realistically of about 20 or 30 organisations where you might want to apply. Online is the obvious place to start searching but not necessarily job boards. As soon as you're old enough to work, set up a Linkedin account as that’s a great place to search for jobs. Also look in trade magazines, blogs etc. Do some keyword searches as well, find these organisations through these areas, find out a bit about them and write to them asking if there is anything available. Look at who the customers are, this will give you an idea of how creative the role is going to be.

Q.) What’s your view on internships?

A.) I think they are vitally important, any experience you can get where you're experiencing that area of work helps. As long as you can get something that’s relevant, we have a rule here, if we have any interns we’re not allowed to give them anything to do unless we explain exactly why we’re doing it and what benefit it has to them at the company. It’s really important if you're taking an internship to make sure the internship is going to be worthwhile. Always ask them, what am I going to be doing as an Intern for you, and how you can apply it to the future. An Internship is great experience for your CV.

Q.) If you could only give one piece of advice, that you believe is the most important, what would it be?

A.) Do your research! Really look into who you’re meeting, the company or organisation. It can start going too far if you're interviewing an Intern and they know the name of your dog, it can get weird. But do your research, just make sure its relevant research. If they know your mother’s maiden name, there’s a problem. There are lots of things that I could say but it’s really about making sure you're prepared.

Q.) And finally, have you got any funny stories from any applications that you’ve recently seen?

A.) Well I was interviewing on a group interview with the Bradford and Bingley Building Society and it was interviews for people to work in their new call centre and the person I was interviewing with was the Call Centre Manager and she said to this young lady “ what’s your greatest achievement to date?” And she replied “drinking 10 pints of lager on a Friday night.” So my advice, keep away from things like that. In fact, she got the job because luckily I laughed and the interviewer laughed. It was a dangerous one but it worked out for her. There’s an example of personality but beware of timing and situations.

Harriet Rose Watson


  1. I love this post! It's so helpful and I think more bloggers should discuss real-life concerns like this. I think these tips are so crucial and important for people of any age!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! It was so handy and I'm really looking forward to taking it all on board. I really enjoyed it :) xxx

  3. I'm going to send this to my friends now, a few of them have just finished University and are looking for jobs! xxx


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