CVs, applications and tests
Ready, set, apply
So, you’re ready to apply for graduate jobs or internships – or maybe you’ve already started. But what does a successful job application look like? The exact steps you’ll take depend on the employer. It could be as simple as emailing your CV and covering letter to the employer but, if you’re applying to big employers, it’s more likely to be an online application form, featuring various application form questions, often followed by online tests. Find out more about the different components that make up the application process – and how to navigate them – with the advice, templates and tools on this page.
If you’re applying for work experience, then you should also look at the applications advice in our internships section. Our interviews and assessment centres section will also help you with the later stages of the recruitment process.
TRENDING IN CVs, applications and tests
Get off to a good start
Your complete CV guide
Craft the perfect CV
Whether you’re starting from scratch or looking to take your CV to the next level, we’ve here to help. Start with our big guide to CV writing to cover the basics, before moving on to more advanced tips around technical CVs, different CV formats and the final polishing.
Languages, libraries & culture +1
Follow our lead
Templates and examples
Struggling to get started? Take inspiration from our collection of sample CVs and cover letters, where we’ll show you how you could lay out yours and what sort of information you might want to include. First things first, identify which template is right for you. If you’re ready to apply for jobs, we have an example graduate CV and graduate covering letter , but we also have an intern CV and a selection of sector-specific templates, including a technical CV . And, finally, we also have an example of a speculative approach .
Writing covering letters
If you’re asked to submit a covering letter as part of your job application, it’s important that you devote time to writing one that does you justice. A good covering letter will be written with one organisation in mind, so using a generic letter for all of your applications is unlikely to achieve the result you want. It may seem time consuming but, trust us, the effort you put into your covering letter will pay off. To help speed things up, take a look at our four-part guide to selling yourself and your skills on one side of A4 paper, where we cover how to write the opening, the ‘Why you? And ‘Why them?’ paragraphs and the ending.
Submit a strong application
All things online applications
Filling out your application
Get the lowdown on how to complete job application forms successfully. We’ll guide you through each step of the online form, from filling out your basic information to answering more detailed questions about your skills, experience and motivation for applying.
Practice makes perfect
Sitting online tests
Online tests – also referred to as psychometric tests – are very popular with large graduate recruiters. Make sure you’re prepared.
Do your homework
Research: the secret to success
If you’re submitting your job application without researching the employer first, you’re missing out a crucial step. Employers want to see from your application that a) you are genuinely interested in working for them and b) you have a basic understanding of their organisation, their work and their industry. In fact, you may be asked to answer application questions such as ‘Why do you want to work here?’. This is where employer research will make all the difference. Use our guide on researching employers to help you. We cover what you need to find out, where to look for this information and more.
Apply with confidence
Free applications mini courses
If you’d like to focus on a specific element of the application process and take a hands-on approach to developing your understanding of it, you should try our free e-learning courses, Pathways. There are multiple applications-focused courses, from what a great master CV looks like and how to write a convincing cover letter, to what to expect from psychometric tests and how to research employers. Each course will take around 30 minutes to complete and will give you the tools and confidence you need to stand out.
Break into your chosen career
We’ve focused in on the application process for some of the biggest and most popular career sectors in the UK.
How long should a CV be?
Your CV should be no longer than two sides of A4. At this early stage of your career, you might find that everything fits on one side of A4, which is fine. We recommend that you either go for one or two full pages, rather than a half-full second page. You can find a more detailed answer to this question and others in our CV FAQs article.
What is a cover letter for a job application?
A cover letter (also called a covering letter) is the document you traditionally send to employers alongside your CV. Essentially, it introduces you to them and explains why they should hire you. A covering letter should be short – no more than one side of A4. Read our article on covering letter essentials for more information and advice.
What is a psychometric test?
There are several types of psychometric tests, including aptitude tests, personality assessments, job simulations and game-based assessments. Employers like them because they can objectively assess candidates’ personalities, abilities and likely behaviours in the workplace. Take a look at our guide to psychometric tests to find out more.
How do I deal with mitigating circumstances in my application?
If you have good and genuine reasons or if misfortune has prevented you from achieving your expected academic results, such as suffering illness or bereavement, you can still apply for jobs that require higher grades, but you’ll need to inform employers of these circumstances. Most application forms have space for you to share this information. To find out more, read our advice on how to disclose mitigating circumstances .
What should I do if I have gaps in my CV?
Gaps in your education history or working life are fairly common for students and graduates. It could be as simple as a period of unemployment after graduation or a summer spent relaxing rather than building your CV. Employers won’t need an explanation for minor gaps like these. However, our advice on dealing with CV gaps will help you to present them in the best light – and explain more significant gaps if necessary.
More careers advice
Browse by category
Advice for school leavers
Discover the world of options open to you on finishing school or college and get tips on how to make the right decision for you.
CVs, applications and tests
Find the tools and tips you need to help you apply for graduate jobs or internships. We cover every aspect of the application process, from writing a CV to answering online application questions and sitting psychometric tests.
Find advice for figuring out your dream career, including what options are available to you after graduating and how to choose the right graduate role.
Finding a job
Finding a job isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Here we help you to jump potential hurdles, giving essential advice for home and international students: from applying in tough economic times to getting a top graduate job with a 2.2.
Completing an internship allows you to sharpen your skills, improve your CV, prepare for the world of work and potentially land yourself a graduate job. Discover what internships actually involve, how to apply for them and how to make the most of them.
Interviews and assessment centres
You impressed on paper; now it’s time to show the employer in person that you’re the right hire. Learn how to do this with our expert advice for answering interview questions, developing interview techniques and acing assessment centre exercises.
Discover the qualifications, skills and experience you’ll need for more than 300 job roles and find one you’ll love.
Job offers and working life
Job offers, rejection emails and stepping into the working world with your first graduate job can pull you in a million directions. Fortunately, we’ve curated advice on how to accept job offers, bounce back from rejection and make an impact in your first job.
Skills for getting a job
Discover the skills that major graduate employers seek and how you can demonstrate them on your application form, and at interviews and assessment centres.
Wanting to leave uni with a degree is a given. But what do you want from the other bits of student life? Discover how to combine study, rest, work and play with our insights from students and graduates.
advice by sector