The documents you use in your job applications, such as your CV, cover letter, portfolio or LinkedIn profile, are your business cards for the employer. They tell potential employers about your skills, experience, achievements, motivation and what you are like as an employee.
Applying for a job
Remember that there is no one right job application template or way to apply for a job. It is important that you write about yourself, your skills and your goals in a personal and clear way. As a general rule, you should write your job application and CV in the language in which the position or job opportunity was advertised.
Tailor the content of your documents to the employer and the position you are applying for. In addition to the traditional CV and cover letter, social media and executive search are increasingly used in recruitment. This is why digital CVs or profiles, such as LinkedIn, play an important role in your job search.
Articulating your skills
Before preparing your job application documents or applying for jobs, you should take a moment to identify and articulate your skills. You will then be in a better position to provide employers with useful information about yourself, your skills and your goals.
Before you submit any job applications, it is also a good idea to clarify the direction you want your career to take and draw up a plan for your job search. Planning will help you make decisions that are meaningful to you. Identifying your skills will help you to think about the kind of jobs you would like to apply for. This will also make it easier to communicate your skills at different stages of the job search. So first, it is worth learning about career planning and how to identify and articulate your skills here.
Present your skills
The purpose of a CV is to attract the interest of an employer and to give a clear picture of you and your skills in a concise format. Your CV tells the basics about you, such as your educational background, work experience, responsibilities, achievements and specific skills that match the job you are applying for. It is important to include things that are relevant to the job you are applying for. It is therefore always a good idea to tailor your CV to the job you are applying for.
Structure and layout
Always structure your CV according to the content. The recommended maximum length for a student CV is two pages. The recruiter should be able to skim the document easily, so it is best to keep it to 1-2 pages.
A good CV is clear and reader-friendly. A well-designed CV layout supports finding relevant information. Make sure that the font is easy to read and that there are no long or heavy paragraphs. The reader should be able to find the necessary information quickly.
Photo and visuals
Adding your own photo is recommended, but not mandatory. A photo gives the recruiter a more complete picture of you and helps them to remember you better. The safest choice is a good-quality, natural portrait photo.
More important than the visuals is the content of the CV, but visual solutions can help you to present your skills more clearly. A visually clever CV can help you stand out among applicants and give an impression of yourself as an applicant who is up to date. For ideas on how to create a visual CV, you can use Word templates or Canva.
The features that are most relevant to the job you are applying for should be placed first in your CV. As a student or recent graduate, your educational background or recent degree can play an important role. If you have work or internship experience with useful skills, you should also highlight these in your CV. The more relevant something is to the applied job, the more space and attention it should be given in your CV.
In addition to your education and work experience, it is a good idea to start your CV with a short profile text in which you present yourself, your skills and your goals. In your CV you should mention any experience that has contributed to your skills. This could include hobbies, positions of responsibility, military or civilian service, voluntary work or other projects. Even seemingly insignificant experience can be used to demonstrate useful skills in working life. Your hobbies and interests paint a picture of your personality. They can sometimes work to your advantage in the job application. Also, be sure to include your contact details in your CV.
A checklist for you CV
- E-mail address and telephone number
- Summary or profile text
- Education and related highlights
- Work experience and other experience
Competences and specific skills (such as IT and language skills)
- Positions of responsibility or volunteering
- Interests and hobbies
- Possible references
Select relevant information
A good cover letter complements your CV and explains why you should be hired. It does not repeat the content of your CV but highlights, in a very compelling manner, the points that are most relevant to the position you are applying for. Therefore, when writing your cover letter, it is a good idea to keep the employer's perspective in mind.
Tailor the cover letter
You should always tailor your cover letter to the job you are applying for. The more the cover letter has been customised for that particular position, the more effective it is in attracting the reader’s interest. A cover letter can be thought of as a motivation letter. With your cover letter, you convince the reader of your motivation for the job in question. Explain and justify why you are interested in the employer and the job in question.
It is also a good idea to highlight the added value you can bring to the employer. In your cover letter, describe your skills and strengths in relation to the position. Think about what it will take to be successful in the position and what you can offer if you are hired. Be sure to justify your arguments. A cover letter is also a better way to show your personality and your way of working than a CV.
Length and format
A cover letter shouldn’t take more than one page. Please follow the instructions given in the job advertisement, such as where to send your application, the requested file format and the application deadline. Sometimes the cover letter must be typed directly into a text field in the employer’s recruitment system – make sure that your text is carefully inserted in this format too. Additional information, such as a salary request or a possible starting date, should be included in the cover letter if specifically requested.
LinkedIn as a search tool
A LinkedIn profile often serves as a digital CV or business card. It allows you to showcase your background, skills and interests. The purpose of a LinkedIn profile is to create a credible and professional image of you as an expert in your field and to highlight your experience and skills.
In your profile, you can describe where you are in your career and what your goals are. You can also include information about your strengths and motivation. By sharing your LinkedIn profile with recruiters, you can provide additional information about yourself for your job application.
Make yourself visible
A well-designed profile can also help you get discovered. Employers and recruitment specialists are now looking for various types of talent directly through LinkedIn's search tools, so a well-made LinkedIn profile can help you get discovered by recruiters.
A clear and informative LinkedIn profile will also help your network members and other LinkedIn users to get to know you when they visit your profile. It is therefore worth keeping your profile up to date for job search, networking and professional profiling purposes.
Optimize your profile
LinkedIn is first and foremost a search engine. This is something to keep in mind when building and editing your profile. The more comprehensive your profile is, including content that is relevant to your skills and interests, the better LinkedIn will be able to suggest relevant and appropriate content for you. It can suggest jobs, interesting companies, people and other content for you. You may also be more likely to appear in recruiters' search results when they're looking for talent like you.
Since LinkedIn uses keywords to find people, it's a good idea to write your profile in a way that uses keywords that match your skills. You can use keywords similar to those used by other people in your field or typically used in your field. You should use keywords in all parts of your profile. Remember, however, that the keywords you use should match your skills.
Examples of keywords include
- Job titles and degree titles
- Job roles
- Tools and equipment
- Software and programming languages
- Certifications and courses
- Keywords specific to your field
- Other concrete things related to your field
Search for frequently used keywords from
- Job advertisements in your field
- Company websites and social media
- Other users' LinkedIn profiles
- Discussions and posts related to your field
Building your profile
You should use your CV as the basis for building your LinkedIn profile, as there are many similarities in their content. In addition to the textual content, you should also pay attention to the layout and discoverability of your LinkedIn profile. By adding a profile picture and background image, you can stand out more and leave a stronger impression. In your LinkedIn settings, it's worth checking which things on your profile are publicly visible to ensure that the things you want to communicate to potential employers are also visible.
The headline at the top of your profile tells readers what you are currently doing professionally or what you are aiming for next. Therefore, it's a good idea to include keywords that describe you and your situation. If you are a student, you can use the headline to tell readers what field you are studying, what stage you are at in your studies or what you are particularly interested in. If you are employed, you can also mention your job title or relevant areas of expertise. If you are applying for jobs, you can mention your goals and the job you are looking for in your headline.
At the beginning of your profile there is a field for a summary. It is a particularly important part of your profile and should be filled in carefully. In this summary, you can write freely about your skills, interests and goals. You can also use it to tell a little about yourself. Since the summary is usually the first thing people read in a profile, it is often the first thing that helps them decide whether they want to read the whole LinkedIn profile. That is why it's worth putting thought into this summary.
Examples of things you can say in the About section:
- What are you currently doing or what goals do you have.
- What skills do you have and where and how you have acquired them.
- What are your main achievements or accomplishments.
- What are your strengths and what are you interested in.
- What kind of a person are you and what is your style of working.
- What kind of job are you looking for or what are your career goals.
- How to contact you.
Keep the About section short so that a visitor to your profile will be encouraged to read it in full. It is a good idea to place information at the beginning of the text that will capture the reader's interest. You can also ask a friend or family member to read the summary and tell you what they think.
This section of your profile allows you to present your professional and educational experience. In the Experience section, you can describe your previous jobs, such as summer jobs, internships or thesis placements. When describing your work experience, you should write in sufficient detail – a job title alone rarely provides essential information about the role. For example, write about the responsibilities you had, what you achieved, or who you worked with and how.
In the Education section, you can describe your education and training leading to a degree, your major and minor subjects, the topics of your theses and any other information of interest in relation to your education and training. You should also mention any exchange studies abroad and study-related positions of responsibility in your profile. For shorter training courses or stand-alone courses, you should consider whether they are more appropriately listed under Education or under Licences and Certifications.
This section allows you to list your skills. Fill it in as comprehensively as you can and use keywords that match your skills, so that this section of your profile also generates keyword hits. Once you have listed your skills, other users can give you endorsements. Please note that without clicking on the Skills section, the reader will only see the first three skills. Make sure that these first three include your most important skills. You can modify the skills and the order in which they are displayed whenever needed. .
Porfolio in job search
A portfolio is a tool for presenting your professional profile and marketing your skills. Working on a portfolio helps you to identify and structure your own skills. At its best, the portfolio also serves as a career shaping tool, in addition to supporting you develop your skills and grow professionally.
The portfolio is often the most important job application tool for creative and visual arts students and graduates. As a visual representation tool, it is usually the most important job search document in architecture, design and the arts. In many other fields, the cover letter and CV are more important, but a well-designed portfolio can also add value to the application.
Showcasing your skills
A portfolio is a carefully and thoughtfully selected collection of the most successful, interesting and informative examples of your skills and competences. The key is to narrow down the sample and cut out excessive content to keep the portfolio concise and clear. A job application portfolio can also be seen as a business card. Think about the impression your portfolio will leave of your skills and professionalism for the employer.
You can use your portfolio as a job application and skills marketing tool while you are still a student, as a well-designed portfolio helps to make your skills visible, even if you have only a limited amount of work experience in your field. Even if your portfolio feels complete and perfect at some point, it is never finished – much like your own skills, the portfolio is a continuum and an ever-changing process. It is essential that the portfolio always highlights skills and experience sought after in the current labour market, so that the content is as relevant as possible to the current needs and demands of employers. Don’t be afraid to start working on your job application portfolio and adapt it along the way.
How to create a portfolio
Every portfolio is unique and different. There is no single template or way to prepare one. Whether your portfolio will be read by a potential future employer or a client, it is important to target your portfolio to your reader. When you are creating your portfolio, think about what your reader will get out of it.
As with any job application document, it is a good idea to always have a draft version of your portfolio available, which contains all the material that could be included in a specific job application portfolio. By always having a draft portfolio available, you can easily create a tailored, targeted and updated portfolio for a specific job application or situation in which you are presenting your skills.
Select and define the area of expertise you wish to present
Conceptualise the portfolio as a whole and design the structure
The visual finish of your portfolio is important
At the beginning of the portfolio, it is a good idea to include a front page, a table of contents and a professional statement, i.e. a two- or three-sentence summary of your skills. You can also include a CV at the beginning of the portfolio. After that, you can present your skills in pictures and words by means of a carefully selected sample of your work and working processes. Make sure the content is organised around themes and that the length is appropriate.
When you are a student, it is often best to structure the content of your portfolio by themes. As you gain more experience, you may also consider a chronological presentation. It is important to keep the length moderate so that the portfolio paints a succinct picture and keeps the employer interested in the content. 10-20 pages is usually a sufficient length for a portfolio.
Various formats of a portfolio
Website or platform
Social media profile
Online reputation, brand and risks
The internet and social media offer a number of linking opportunities for a job application portfolio, which can at best multiply the visibility of your portfolio. You should use the internet and social media extensively, but be mindful of the potential risks, such as someone plagiarising your ideas or copying your images or text. Being aware of the risks makes it easier for you to choose what to publish in your portfolio, when, to what extent and in which format.
What is a recruitment portal?
Nowadays, many larger companies use online job portals and recruitment systems. For the applicants, the system means filling in an online form. The systems are particularly useful when recruiting for a job that may attract a large number of applicants. This allows the person responsible for the recruitment to easily look for applicants using keywords and browse through the applicants’ experience and competence without having to open the attachments.
You can usually use the same profile to apply for other job openings in the company. Once you have carefully filled in the form in the system, the next application process will be much easier.
How to proceed with application?
Finalize your CV and cover letter as a word document before you start filling in the online form of the system. Filling in the form is easier if you already have the necessary information at hand. In addition, the form may have a time limit, so make sure you will not find yourself in a hurry.
Filling the application form
You should be careful and thorough when filling in the form even if it asks for the information you already have in your CV. You must fill in all fields, as blanks will be noticed quickly when your information is reviewed. Also keep in mind that it is not possible to attach additional files to all forms. Include all necessary information directly in the form.
Compress the essential information about your competence into the character limits of the fields. Remember to emphasise any skills that are particularly relevant to the job you are applying for. Never copy your application text into the fields or answer with just a couple of words!
You should keep search engine optimization in mind when filling in the form, as recruiters often run word searches on the information submitted to the system. Use keywords to describe your competence when filling in the free additional information fields in the form.
Think carefully about your answers to any open questions concerning the job and the required expertise. The recruiter will pay particular attention to them. Good answers will allow you to make a good first impression.