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October 20, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

Avoid Spam Applications

By Anna Scrivener, Careers Adviser

We all get those email messages with offers that say, ‘look at me’, but actually aren’t tailored to us. What do we do with them? 9/10 DELETE. Sure, on the odd occasion the email has landed well, on pay day when you were feeling a bit flush, or their message that month just happened to talk to you. But they could increase the odds if they had better data about what you were actually looking for right?

Now let’s apply this to your applications, whether it’s for a graduate role, summer internship, placement etc. They have already told you exactly what they are looking for in their advert, job description, person specification and website. Now what you have to do is talk to them! What we hear time and time again from employers is that they want to see passion in your applications, genuine reasons why you want to work for them, and an obvious skill set that ticks their boxes.

I realise this is a big ask, you’ve just started a new year at University, you’re finding a balance between all your commitments, and now I’m telling you that one CV and covering letter is not enough.

Here’s my top tip:

Start with what you are looking for…

Yes, a job, but what else? Some examples might be:


Example: You want to live/work abroad in the future, so you want to find multinational companies that may give you this opportunity. Passport Career is a great website if you are looking at working abroad, you can sign up for free as a UoN student.


Example: You have a real interest in sustainability and have been involved in this whilst at University, therefore companies that have this as one of their guiding values will be more aligned to you.

Workplace motivations

Example: You know that you are motivated more when you are working in a team and so jobs in your sector that allow for that, rather than a lot of solo working, will suit you better. If you want to find out more about your workplace motivators, try the ‘Values-based Indicator of Motivation’ quiz within the free Profiling for Success tool. You can sign up for free as a UoN Student.

Professional Development

Example: You still aren’t sure exactly what you want to focus on, so you are looking for an opportunity that allows you to explore different avenues.

Sector Exposure

Example: You have proven research skills, but you want the chance to apply these in a particular sector or with a particular client group that interests you.


Use this to prioritise your applications. Who are your target firms? Which companies tick all your boxes? This is where you’re going to place the majority of your energies. Doing this thinking now will benefit you in the long-term, not only when you write your applications, but also when you get asked that inevitable question at interview, ‘why do you want to work for us’.

Yes, you may want to hedge your bets and apply to other companies that you know less about, BUT once you’ve started this thinking you’ll get into the swing of things. You’ll be able to talk more confidently to employers, and will be making more informed decisions, which ultimately is pretty important when you choose a future career.

Remember, rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t a great candidate, but the more you can talk to the reader of your application and demonstrate genuine passion and enthusiasm for the role the more likely your application is to move into the ‘progress to the next stage’ pile.

We have some really helpful making applications webpages with more information. Good luck!

Posted in Applying For JobsCareers Advice