We had an unbelievable response to our call for applications for an intern to join the Nutrition Talent team and boost our nutrition resource. We wanted to share some of our thoughts and observations on the application process, from a recruiter’s perspective, to help you for future applications for nutrition jobs, whatever stage of your nutrition career you are at.
Stand out from the crowd
We received a huge number of applications for the position. When competition is strong, it’s important you do your best to stand out and try to make your application one we want to read first. Some people did this brilliantly. Layout of your CV is important, especially when design and communication is a key part of the role, as it is your example of how you represent yourself. Using colours, fonts and designs instantly makes a CV more enticing to read.
Only one person out of over one hundred called us about the position instantly putting her at an advantage as we looked out for her CV, as someone who is obviously keen and proactive – two qualities we were looking for, and we ended up inviting this candidate for an interview.
We were looking for someone with strong digital and social media skills. It was therefore very helpful when candidates attached examples of their work in this area. We didn’t ask for this, but we appreciated the initiative those candidates demonstrated to showcase their skills.
If you have skills outside of nutrition either from a previous career or part-time work, it is vital to let the employer know how these can support your application. Some people demonstrated this very well, showing a mix of experience built up through personal or professional experiences and time at university, as well as examples of communications through blogs, social media channels and events; putting them at an advantage over other candidates.
Follow the brief
We asked for three sentences describing why you are right for the job, however a considerable number of people didn’t do this. Read the advert carefully and ensure you follow any instructions – in this case it was your opportunity to grab our attention before we even opened your CV. You risk your CV not even being opened if you don’t complete essential elements of the application process.
There were some examples where applicants used their three sentences to tell us about very impressive skills, but which were completely unrelated to the role we were advertising for, so ensure your application is appropriate to the position.
This was the opportunity to communicate quickly and simply why you are right for the role. This can then be reiterated in the personal introduction of the CV, with relevant skills and experience emboldened providing proof points galore.
Get the basics right
It may seem simple, but make sure you check your spelling and grammar. Reading over your application email and CV carefully and making sure the relevant documents are attached before pressing send takes a few extra minutes, but as this is the first impression we get of you, it could make all the difference. Take your time and ensure you get the simple things right.
Ensure you include the job title and/or reference number when applying for roles. The recruiter may have different positions open, meaning they have to work out what you want to apply for. Do all you can to make things simple for the recruiter.
Consider the file name you use for your CV as even something as basic as this makes an impression. And similarly, if your application is coming from a personal email address, make sure that address is appropriate. A fun nickname may appear unprofessional – think about whether you would introduce yourself using this name. If the answer is no you may want to set up a new email account to use for the purpose of applications.
Some people directed their applications to us personally which shows some research had been done into the company. The personal approach shows attention to detail.
It is good practice not to be too colloquial in your first communication with a prospective employer – e.g. Hi there, Hey, Hello with exclamation marks may not give the best first impression.
A few people didn’t put any text in the body of the email, only attaching a CV – this misses a great opportunity to make an impact, and to demonstrate expected professionalism. We of course read all CVs, but some employers wouldn’t read the ones that didn’t show the initiative to write a message to accompany it.
Many applicants talked about what you would learn or gain from us, instead of focusing instead on what you can offer. You may be asked that question at interview, and it’s a good question to be ready to answer, but it shouldn’t be a key message in your email when you could be outlining your skills.
If you are at the early stage of your career, it is important not to oversell yourself. Too many superlatives can come across as inauthentic.
Saying you have excellent communication skills isn’t very impactful – instead you could explain how you developed them or offer examples, such as ‘shown by my work with the university newspaper’. Attached examples and hyperlinks are a great way to do this, however they should of course be professional.
Don’t miss out
Be quick! Although we didn’t put a closing date on the job advert, we had to take the advert down due to unprecedented demand, but then still had applications come in after we had made decisions. Be quick to make sure you don’t miss an opportunity.
If you’d like to hear more of our recommendations about how to write a great CV, you may find this Facebook Live useful.
Other relevant resources include our fact sheets:
- How can graduates differentiate themselves from the crowd
- Top ten tips from employers in nutrition to recent graduates
These resources were developed part of a series of activities, funded by the Nutrition Society and the Association for Nutrition.