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Preparing for work

Help with searching for jobs, writing your CV, filling out application forms and what to say in an interview.

1. CVs

Your CV (curriculum vitae)  is a list of your education, training and work experience. It should also list your key skills and achievements. It's your opportunity to show an employer why they should invite you for an interview.

CVs should:

  • list the skills, experience and knowledge you have suitable to the job you are applying for – for example, if you are looking for a job in retail, it should list customer service skills like being helpful, polite and able to work in busy environments
  • be up-to-date with your most recent job, course, training and work experience
  • be relevant to the post you're applying for, with the most relevant experience a the top
  • be well laid out and have no spelling mistakes



2. Application forms

Application forms are used by some employers instead of a CV or online application form, but they do a similar job in helping the employer understand your skills and experience. If you already have an up-to-date CV, it will help you to fill out applications forms quicker.

  • Read the job description and person specification before you start to fill in the application form
  • Make sure you put the most relevant information requested in each section
  • Avoid spelling mistakes
  • Write neatly and legibly in black ink if filling in a paper form
  • Make a copy of your completed application form to refer to in the interview
  • Save your application form - you can reuse parts of it in other job applications



3. Covering letters

Cover letters are sometimes required with your CV. They are an opportunity to introduce yourself and your skills in brief, saying why you would like to work with the company and why you would be the best fit for role.


4. Job interviews

Interviews are your chance to show the employer how your personality, skills and experience make you the right person for the job. It is also your chance to see if the employer and the role is right for you.

There are many different types of interviews such as:

  • telephone or Skype
  • group interviews or assessment days
  • one to one or panel interviews
  • you may also be asked to take a written or practical test.

Give yourself plenty of time to dress, eat and travel before your interview - and make sure you make time for any traffic jams or train delays. Don't turn up late - punctuality is something employers value. 

Interviews can be scary but with practice you'll be able to perfect your interview skills and improve your chances of getting the job you want.

It’s worth remembering that if you have applied for a job and been called for an interview, the employer already likes you 'on paper'. You just need to bring your story to life when you meet them.  


5. Benefits when you start working

When you start working, any benefits you are claiming may be affected. You can use a benefit calculator to estimate how your benefit entitlements may change.

If you are a registered user of our service, we can help you with what you need to do and who to tell that your circumstances have changed.

More information relating to managing money can be found in our advice and support section.


6. If you have a criminal record

You might be concerned about your chances when applying for jobs if you have a criminal record - some employers perform a background check.

Bounce Back

Bounce Back offers training, work experience and employment to offenders at the end of their sentences using the skills developed both in custody and on release. Courses focus on training to ensure people are well positioned and qualified to enter the construction industry

Video guidance

This video is about a young woman on the verge of a new career who is worried about her criminal record. It was produced by young people from Westminster.

7. Your rights at work

Everyone who is employed by a business, individual or organisation has certain rights as an employee. 


Last updated 08 June 2017
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