Job hunt: 34 ways to get that role

From LinkedIn to interview tips, we examine what steps you can take to stand out from the crowd

First, the good news: the jobs market is strong and there are tens of thousands of employers looking for the right candidate.

Now, the bad news: employers can also be inundated with CVs, particularly for marketing or creative jobs. So how can you put your best foot forward when trying to get that job? What makes a CV effortlessly float to the top of the pile? What should you say in your cover letter? How can you avoid messing up at the interview?

We spoke to three recruitment experts and asked for their top tips. Fergal Scully is a guidance counsellor at Rathmines College of Further Education. Pauline Harley is a Dublin-based independent careers coach. And Dave Kilmartin is head of the career development centre at the Technological University of Dublin (formerly DIT).



1. Interested in working for a particular company? Look up the company, see who works for it, and look through their profiles. If it is a big company, look up people who did similar jobs to the ones you want. (FS, PH)

2. Can you make contact with someone already working in the place to get an idea of what the company is like to work for and who they’re looking for? Then apply your combination of skills, experience and attitudes to tailor the CV and cover letter so you’re a good match. (FS)

3. Reach out to graduates of your course through LinkedIn. List everyone you know, tell them you’re job hunting, and ask for advice or contacts from them. (DK)

4. Your own LinkedIn profile is important: nine out of 10 times, companies will go straight to it if you apply to them. But think of it more as a statement of your professional values than as an online CV. In your summary, include the key words that represent the career path you’d like to take. Build it like the professional that you want to be perceived as. Think of what you have done in college – whether volunteering, getting involved in clubs and societies or part-time work – and explain why it was important to you and how it contributed to your career choice. (PH)

5. Your LinkedIn profile should also be a reflection of your core values. Core values? These are what matters to you with regard to career choice, whether making an impact, being part of a team, career progression opportunities, or money. Reflect on your previous roles and what you liked about it. (PH)

6. Don’t be afraid to share posts relevant to the companies you’re interested in: it shows initiative and that you’re doing your research. (PH)

Job hunting

7. Looking for a job? Your job is to get a job, so work at it every day. (DK)

8. Be professional in how your present yourself in all media. Ask yourself about the competencies, attitudes and dispositions of a professional in your field of interest. What do you want those who view your profile or CV to think about you? (DK)

9. Remember that different companies can have very different – and sometimes very complicated – recruitment strategies. So one job might require a phone interview, group interview and psychometric testing that can be hard to prepare for. (FS)

10. How much do you really want this job? If it’s “a lot”, that requires effort. Research what the company does, who works for them and what experience and skills employees have. (FS)

11. If you don’t get the job, seek feedback on applications and interviews. What can you learn from it for the next approach? (DK)

Be careful not to jump to conclusions if you're not called for interview. It's not an indictment of who you are

12. Be careful not to jump to conclusions if you’re not called for interview. It’s not an indictment of who you are – there may have been people with more experience, it could have gone to an internal candidate, or you may have lacked a particular skill you can develop. (DK)

13. Consider keeping a reflection journal to see what’s going well in job applications and interviews, what isn’t and how you can improve the next time. (PH)

14. Stay active. You will have time on your hands when looking for a job. Use it productively for your physical and mental health. Eat well, exercise, stay in touch with family and friends, consider volunteering for a local club or charity, register for a meet-up where you can meet like-minded people in an informal setting or continue to advance your knowledge and skills by signing up for free online courses such as FutureLearn or EdX. (DK)

15. Seek support from your college careers office. (DK)

16. Ask a company if you could shadow them for a day or two. (DK)

The cover letter

17. Three paragraphs: one on your experience, one on your qualifications and one on why you want that job. (FS)

18. And if it’s really a dream job, put more effort into explaining why you really want it, why you’re the best person and why your qualifications and skills match up. One of the biggest problems for employers is to figure out whether the person really wants the job, whether they’re interested in the work and how well they will do it. Make it easy for them to employ you by showing your interests, knowledge and passion. (FS)

The CV

19. Create space to think innovatively. In the days before you write your CV, consider doing something creative: write in your journal, paint or sketch. CVs are about telling your story. (PH)

20. No spelling mistakes. “I teach a work experience class in Rathmines and they have to hand me a CV and cover letter. This is where I am strictest: if there are spelling mistakes, I make them take it back and do it again. It reflects so badly, and employers may feel that the applicant doesn’t care enough to get it proofread. Only the very best CVs may get away with this.” (FS)

21. Tailor your CV to each job. It will stand out if it’s as relevant to the role as possible and tells the story of how your skill set applies to that role. (PH, FS)

22. Assess the job spec: what knowledge, skills and attributes are required? Go through the job spec and highlight key words and phrases. (DK)

23. From here, collate your evidence from your work experience, education and interests/ achievements. Long list the key aspects in each area. Focus on where you made an impact, demonstrating a before and after story. And they want to see what impact you have and the revenue you could generate, so use metrics where possible – eg you raised €1,000 for a charity, or planned an event for 500 people. If you can’t think of this, remember that working in a restaurant or shop will have generated sales and revenue, or perhaps you worked on a project with others which raised money and built your teamwork skills. (DK, PH)

24. Target your evidence in a way that demonstrated you meet the role requirements, mirroring the language of the job spec. Use active verbs that demonstrate competencies (“arranged”, “managed”, “provided”, “analysed”, “organised” and “planned”). (DK)

New graduates probably don't have a huge amount of work experience, so don't minimise volunteer work, hobbies or interests

25. New graduates probably don’t have a huge amount of work experience, so don’t minimise volunteer work, hobbies or interests. That could be charity work, writing for the college paper, getting involved in your local GAA club or a college club or society. This can highlight your coaching, organisational, mentoring, or teamwork skills. (FS, PH)

26. If your focus has been almost entirely academic, you can highlight skills and experience you gained through your coursework and modules. These could include, for instance, teamwork or project work, or how you learned about society through your sociology module. (FS, PH)

27. If you’re lacking anything outside academics, it’s not too late to sign up for volunteer work this summer – even a day a week will help bridge a gap on your CV. (FS)

28. Layout matters. It should be easy enough for the reader to scan and figure out in 10 seconds whether it’s worth spending more time on. Key words should jump out, and they should see at a glance what you have done.(FS)

The interview

29. Don’t neglect the basics: present yourself well, know where the place is, and be prepared. Can friends or family help you to practise? The more prepared you are on the day, the less nervous you will be. (FS)

30. An employer is asking three questions of every applicant:

(i) Can you do the job? Do you have the knowledge and skills for the role?

(ii) Will you do the job? Are you genuinely interested in and enthusiastic about the role?

(iii) Will you fit into the company and its way of working? (DK)

31. At the interview, you’ll be asked to go through your CV. Don’t go on facts and dates: you need to tell your story, why you made the decisions you made, how it got you to the point you’re at today and why you want this job. (FS)

32. Link in your previous experience – whether from a job, course, volunteering or being active in college clubs, societies, the students’ union or college media – and link them to the job you’re going for and why the skills you learned make you the best person for the job. (FS)

33. Be prepared for a range of questions. They might ask for your greatest weakness and this isn’t to catch you out but to show what you have learned and how you’re open to growing. Or they could ask about a time you made a mistake: don’t go into defence mode, but instead show how you turned it around. (FS, PH)

34.Use affirmations to ground yourself before the interview: “I am grateful to be here”, “I am a good candidate for the right company”, “I will speak in my voice”. (PH)