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What Do Managers Look For in a Job Application?

An NH Architecture manager talks us through it.

By Eliza Campbell

Before most employers even see your face, they judge your value to their organisation based on how you apply.

Whether it’s with a résumé, portfolio, cover letter or a combination of all three, how you present yourself matters. So how do you nail it and get yourself hired?

Thihoa Gill is the practice manager at NH Architecture. She says your CV and cover letter are obviously the most important. A CV is an easy reference point for future employers to see where your strengths and skills lie. If you’re yet to acquire some of the relevant skills, a cover letter can be that metaphorical foot in the door.

“Overall, a CV is about providing connection,” Gill says. “You’re competing with another 10 people, so you need to find a way to stand out.”

“Every business’s recruitment process is different, but for us we just really want to see some engagement with the industry or the job you’re applying for.”

Your cover letter should be specific to the application. “It should respond to the ad,” says Gill. “So, ‘I’m really keen to work here because …’ Then a recognition of your skill set and why it would be applicable.”

Less is more. Gill says your résumé should be a maximum of two to three pages. It’s crucial to showcase your experience, but don’t lie, and don’t include details that aren’t relevant to this particular employer.

“We don’t need to see that blue ribbon you won running in primary school,” she says, “Maybe if you were school captain or something you can include that, because it shows that you’re academic and have leadership skills.”

If you’re fresh out of school, employers understand that. Instead of filling up your résumé with irrelevant achievements, Gill suggests showing examples of what you can do by attaching a link to your online portfolio or work.

“I never really think, ‘What a terrible application,’ more just that someone’s inexperienced in the application process. I think there’s always potential,” she says.

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