Over the course of a year, the team at Newsdirect read hundreds of job applications. The candidates are keen to express their passion for politics and their excitement about the interesting political dynamic that's currently unfolding in Scotland and across the UK. For a while now we've been thinking about ways in which we as an employer can better inform those people who are interested in working for us. It is still flattering that so many people are interested in what we do and the opportunities we can offer.
So, based on our experience, we’ve put together our top tips for job applicants. These won’t guarantee an interview, but we hope they might offer some pointers and insight. It is also worth noting that we don’t drop our criteria for internship recruitment compared to permanent roles.
1. Keep it simple!
Job applications seem to bring out the thesaurus in some people. There’s no need for over-complicated sentences or grandiose statements. Write clearly and succinctly in language you would use every day. Except sweary words. Don’t use those.
2. Sidestep the obvious.
Back up your claims with examples and consider how to set yourself apart. When asked about time management and deadlines, most graduates will immediately reach for examples from their academic experience e.g. a dissertation. We think of deadlines in units of an hour, not weeks or months. What experiences do you have that would relate to that sort of time pressure?
3. Don't overplay your hand.
Undertaking a module in British politics doesn’t make you an expert on devolution. We’re keen to know about your course content but if your knowledge has been supplemented by practical experience, that might give you the edge.
4. All killer, no filler.
Your covering letter and CV should be focused on the specific criteria of the job. Focus on info that’s relevant and necessary and remember that for a company like ours, what you can do is JUST as important as what you know.
5. Get our names right!
If the job advert gives the name of the person you are applying to, use that name and make sure you get it right every time.
6. Mix it up.
Everyone recycles job applications. That’s fine, but you might want to make sure that your covering letter doesn’t become your ‘stump speech’, fixed in its phraseology or structure irrespective of the target vacancy. Think about the criteria we’ve set out and your experiences and order them appropriately.
7. Be yourself.
Communicate who you are and what you’re all about in your own words. Job hunting is a serious business but we’re not looking for drones. If you live and breathe politics that’s fine, but if it’s a career choice rather than a lifestyle that’s also fine.
8. Show versatility.
Being party political does not necessarily disadvantage you from a job which requires you to be politically neutral during working hours. Demonstrating insight into the political process will almost certainly be valuable, but we’ll also need convinced that you can write and analyse from an impartial position as well.
9. Proof, proof, proof and proof again.
We read lots of applications which are perfect in their spelling and grammar but there, nestled in the two-line covering email will be a glaring typo. For our working requirements, your ability to stay vigilant in the just-before-deadline email is where we would look to judge accuracy under pressure. Yes, everyone can slip up, but typos will almost certainly fast-track your application to the ‘No’ pile.
10. Read, implement and report back!
If applying to Newsdirect in future, mention this blog post. You might just get bonus points for doing your homework.