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Applying for jobs

Where to look for a job?

There are lots of different places to look for work depending on the kind of work you want. Places to start looking include:

Job Centre Plus
The Job Centre Plus will help you to find work or claim any benefits that you are entitled to. There are five local offices in Lambeth. Visit the Job Centre Plus website to find the correct office where you need to go.

Lambeth Working
Lambeth Council has a job brokerage service that matches local people to employment and training opportunities. Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for further information.

Universal Jobmatch
Search the Universal Jobmatch database for local and national job vacancies, careers information and details about training and volunteering opportunities.

Local and national newspapers
These are available to read in public libraries and also online. If you see a suitable job advert follow it up immediately.

The internet
The internet is a powerful tool so make good use of it. Advertisements go up regularly and there are many jobsites available to conduct searches. When looking online it is useful to have an up to date CV to hand in case you may be required to upload it.

If you are considering an apprenticeship as your preferred option, see the Traineeship and Apprenticeships section.

How to apply for a job?

When applying for a job you will usually be asked to apply by either submitting your Curriculum Vitae (CV) with a covering letter or by completing an application form.

"CV" is short for Curriculum Vitae, which means "story of Life" in Latin. A good CV does not really tell the story of your life, but highlights the skills and experience you have gained that makes you right person for a job.

A covering letter supports your CV and sends a personal message to an employer presenting simple and effective reasons for employing you.

An application form can be electronic or paper based and will ask you to outline your personal details, education, career history, references, skills and experience usually aligned to a personal specification.

If you have a passion in a particular industry and there are no advertised vacancies; you may consider making a direct approach to a desired company. This approach is known as writing a 'speculative letter'. 'Speculative letters' should:

  • Indicate what sort of work you would be looking for
  • Make it clear why you want a job with this company
  • Show that you are knowledgeable about the organization
  • Highlight the skills and experience you bring to a job
  • Be lively, dynamic and confident
  • Always be accompanied by Curriculum Vitae (CV)

 How to prepare for an interview

No two interviews are exactly the same but every employer will generally be looking for the following three things:

  • Whether you have the skills and knowledge necessary to do the job
  • Whether your experience indicates that you can use these skills successfully
  • Whether you have the right personality to do the job, and fit into their organisation

It is important to keep these points in mind when you are preparing for the interview, and while you are actually being interviewed. All of your answers to their questions should be designed to focus on these three things:

  • Know The Job – you should always be looking for ways to match your skills to the skills needed to do the job. The best source of information is the job description, and person specification given by the employer, but there are other ways to get information. For example, if you know someone who works for the same company or even someone who works in a similar role you could ask them, or look at general careers information on the type of job you are applying for.
  • Know The Employer – the interviewer will expect you to know something about how their organization operates. The internet is an invaluable source of information; "google" the company name, or use their own company website as an information tool.
  • Know Yourself – it is important to have a clear idea what skills, knowledge, personal qualities and experience you can offer the employer. We have some helpful confidence building tips for you here (word 19).

Some useful tips before you have your interview:

  • 'Tell us about yourself' is probably the most common interview question you will be asked. See our 'do's and don'ts' here (word 17).
  • Be aware of the types of questions that are commonly asked and have an idea of how to respond. It is not a good idea to prepare word-for-word responses as the questions you prepare for may not be asked, or may be worded differently.
  • Check location and time of interview, make sure you have planned your journey to arrive in plenty of time (at least 15 minutes before your interview time).
  • Plan your clothes for the interview, making sure they are clean, ironed, and appropriate for the interview. If you are unsure of the dress code, always opt for smart!
  • Set your alarm! Make sure you have time to shower, brush your teeth, style your hair and be as well presented as you can possibly be.
  • Practice your entrance – even if you don't feel confident going into an interview, having good posture and a confident smile can go a long way to making you appear confident. Sometimes you have to fake it until you make it!
  • Practise your handshake – no-one enjoys a floppy handshake, and a good firm (but not too hard!) handshake can go a long way to demonstrating confidence and self assurance – even if you don't feel that way!

 During the interview

First impressions count, and you never get a second chance to make one. Check your appearance before you go into the employer office, be polite and pleasant to everyone you encounter and make sure you greet you interviewer(s) with a smile, handshake and self-introduction.

  • Think about your body language: sit up straight, make eye contact, try not to fiddle or demonstrate any nervous habits like wiggling a foot or wringing your hands.
  • Take your time – think first and speak second; interviewers would prefer that you take a moment to think. Ask for the question to be repeated or rephrased if you do not understand. In interviews you may be given a pen and paper which you can use to note down the questions. This will help you to focus your answer and make sure the key points are covered.
  • If you would like to add anything to a previously asked question, make a note and come back to it at the end of the interview.
  • At the end of the interview you will usually be asked if you have any questions. Use this opportunity to ask any questions that you may have about the employer or the job itself. For some ideas of questions you may ask, see our sample questions for the interviewer.

Here are some sample questions for the interviewer that you can ask at the end of your interview:
If I was successful, what would be the key priorities in my first month of employment?

  • Would this job role require working as part of a specific team, and if so what is the structure of that team – who would I be working with and/or reporting to?
  • What are the core values of the company?
  • Would there be learning and development opportunities within the company?
  • When do you expect to make a decision on recruitment, and how will you let me know of your decision?