How to... apply for a job

With spring, my fancy turns to job applications.

You and thousands of others. Start preparing your campaign now. You can improve your chances.

Stand out from the crowd? Coloured paper? Fancy fonts? Personal delivery while in costume?

Aaagh. Guaranteed to fail. Instead, draw up your preferences: jobs, types of schools, areas you prefer or would avoid. Write a draft application for a genuine job and have it checked over by a senior colleague as part of a continuing professional development activity, including a mock interview.

Of course, read The TES regularly.

This is getting serious. Must get my suit out of mothballs.

Get it pressed to impress. That means the whole outfit: hair, nails, shoes.

Then prepare your covering letter, CV and the information for the application form. Preparation don'ts first.


use coloured paper, fancy fonts or illegible handwriting

include the wrong school or head's name

use dodgy grammar

have typos

rely on a spell checker

exceed two sides of A4 for your letter

leave unexplained gaps in your employment record

miss the official closing date

lie, ever.

So what should I do?


ask suitable referees: a previous employer or tutor

follow the precise requirements of the advertisement

check to avoid cut and paste errors

be honest

include genuine extra-curricular interests

include SAEs if requested. They are an investment in your future.

And then?

Apply. You're certain to fail if you don't. Unsuccessful? Ask for feedback.

Act on it to improve your chances next time

Duncan Grey was talking to Bridget Watt, headteacher of Bolton-On-Swale Church of England Primary School

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