How to... apply for a job

30th March 2007 at 01:00
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

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today