Top Tips – Applying For A Job

Posted on November 24th, 2008 by in Advice & Tips, Using UK Music Jobs

Tim Donaldson is the Technology Operations Manager for Global Radio, the home of the UK’s leading commercial radio brands including Heart, Capital FM, LBC, Classic FM, Gold and XFM.  

Here are Tim’s Top Tips for getting an applicaton noticed:

”I cannot emphasise how important your first approach to an employer is, and you have to give it your absolute best shot.  If you mess it up you won’t get a second chance.  Adopt an approach adapted from Formula One (where the only question that’s important is ”Will what I’m doing make the car go faster?”), and ask yourself at every stage of preparing your initial email or letter ”Will what I’m doing give me a better chance of getting noticed?”.  Remember that the employer has what you want (a job), but he/she knows NOTHING about you, and so he/she needs to know that you want to have it (as well as, of course, knowing that you are suitably qualified for it).”


(1) Read the advert.  That sounds SO basic, but I am amazed by the number of applications I receive where it is blatantly apparent that the writer has not done so.

(2) Respond to the advert.  Don’t use a generic email application that could have been sent to anyone. It’s so transparent and will get binned. If you have an automated system for applying for jobs, don’t use it.  You might be lucky enough to find an employer who’s courteous enough to reply and clarify, but I suspect they’re few and far between.

Editor note – When applying for jobs through UK Music Jobs do not forget to tailor your covering letter and CV. You can now add as many CVs to your profile as you like and then chose which one accompanies your tailored covering letter.

(3) At least TRY to tailor your initial response to what the ad says. Pick out a few points and write about how well you would meet them. Remember, you have to tell your prospective employer the story of who you are, and, in the end ‘sell’ yourself.

(4) Spell check carefully.  Don’t rely on your computer to do it for you.  Read and re-read your initial approach before you send it.  Spelling and punctuation errors make your application look sloppy and, whatever you might like to think, it really makes a difference.

(5) Make it ABSOLUTELY clear what you are doing in your initial approach – are you applying for the job there and then, or are you asking for more details? I would always advise the latter – job adverts are often no more than thumbnail sketches of what is contained in the Job Description. Your application should therefore be based on the longer document.

Editor note – Following the job description is always best however always take note of what the employer is requesting in the particular advert.

(6) Make sure that you can provide evidence for everything that you put in your application as you may be asked for it.  If you tell lies you will be found out sooner or later.  For example, if you say you are confident and outgoing and turn out, at the interview, to be shy and monosyllabic, or if you say you have skills which (it later transpires) you don’t you will have wasted your time as well as that of your potential employers.  You won’t be invited back next time there is a job going.

(7) Most jobs are in a particular location.  If you live miles away, make it clear that you are happy to relocate.

(8) If you are foreign applicant, make sure that you have the right work permits to work in the host country, and say so in your initial approach. Questions about this left undealt-with head on at the outset only present your possible future employer with a problem when he/she wants only solutions.

(9) If English is not your first language, ask for help in preparing your application, or get it checked.  A letter written in poor English will not reflect well on your undoubted abilities.


”Finally, the jobs that I, as a very specific type of employer, have rely on team work and communication as key skills.  It is useful (and something that I look for) that you demonstrate those.  Team work can be demonstrated not only by your past employment history but also by your hobbies and interests.  I am naturally going to be more attracted to someone who plays in a band, a football team or who does amateur dramatics than someone whose interests are more solitary.  That’s simply because people who take part in team based activities know better how to pay their part to a greater goal, and can understand how to take direction, again for the benefit of all.  If you don’t have such an interest take one up!!”

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