Short guide on how to apply for a job

I have been hiring personal assistants since 2000, which means nearly 1000 applications and over 100 interviews (and about 50 people getting a job). I have noticed that writing a job application and going to a job interview can be difficult to many. I know I have rejected some people who might have been perfect, just because their applications were poorly written. Some candidates have probably been very nervous about the interview, giving me a wrong impression. I decided to write a list of tips on how to write a good application (especially when applying by e-mail) and how to behave at a job interview. These tips are mainly targeted for people living in Finland, but I assume most of these are more or less universal. I have collected most of the tips from my own archives (yeah, people really do these things). Some are things you really must do or you have to avoid, and some are just hints on what usually works, like the length of the application. If you think something should be added here, e-mail me avustajat [a] wepsi.com

Job-application (cover letter and resume)

- tell your name and age
- if you are applying job abroad, also tell your gender (some names don't give any clues to foreigners)
- tell how I can contact you, especially if you aren't checking your e-mail
- add a topic in your e-mail
- write the application in the message, and add the resume as an attachment
- don't leave the message-part empty (and just send attachments)
- make sure that all attached files can be opened in most computers (pdf-files are the best)
- if you attach any files in your e-mail, tell about it in the message, to make sure I will notice them
- if you do not attach a resume as a file, write the information in a short form in you application (proper instructions on resumes can be found here)
- always write an application (which a plain resume is not)
- tell me what you can do, not what you cannot do
- check and double-check the grammar and spelling in both your application and your resume (the language doesn't have to be perfect, as long as the sentences can be understood, there aren't many obvious typos, capital letters are in the righ places, punctuation is used as it's supposed to be...)
- if you are writing in a language which is not your native tongue, be especially careful with the grammar and spelling and do not trust automatic translations
- the best length for an application is 10-15 sentences (who you are, where do you live, what training you have, what are you doing right now...), but of course some jobs require a longer application (even then over 1.5 pages is too much)
- if you are applying for a job abroad, tell how long you have been in the country and if you have appropriate visas
- read the job-ad carefully before writing an application, and think what the employer is looking for and if you really are the best person for the job
- don't start the application by telling you can't start working on the date mentioned on the ad (especially because you are on vacation)
- if you want more information, ask specific questions and don't just write "tell me more"
- if you have no experience in the field, tell what useful skills you do have
- think how you will remembered in a good way from the group of 100 applicants (weird hobby, unusual work-history...)
- tell me, if you do not know the language the job-ad was written in
- tell me, if you do not know the language your application was written in and someone else translated it
- the job-ad has a requirement on certain languages, they are there for a reason
- a photo is not usually necessary
- you don't have to tell me your marital status or the number of children (because in Finland they can't be considered when hiring someone)
- starting the application by "Heya *namehere*!" does not give a good impression
- if the job-ad gives out specific shifts, assume the employer won't negotiate on them
- don't complain in your application ("I don't know Finnish so I can't get a job here", "I will move there if I get the job", "I really really need this job")
- you don't have to tell your whole history (like divorces) in the application, or even in the interview
- you don't have to send your degree-papers and references and recommendations with your application unless asked
- if you know the work-place would be over 40km away, tell how you were thinking of going there (and think if over an hour each way is too much for you)

Job-interview

- if you are invited for an interview, tell me if you are coming or not
- if the invitation has several dates/times, tell me when exactly you are coming
- if you think you can't find your way, ask for directions
- if you couldn't find your way, tell me about it afterwards
- come to the interview at the right time, not over 10 minutes early or over 10 minutes late
- if you can't understand something, ask
- don't talk too much: the interviewer has questions to ask
- don't talk too little: answering yes or no isn't enough
- don't tell all bad things about your old job
- don't dress too casually or too formally
- eye-contact and shaking hands are good manners
- be ready to present your references and other papers when asked