Everyone needs to apply for a job at some point. The way you apply has evolved and will continue to change over time. It can also vary between jobs. So, it can help to have a clear pathway through the steps of looking for your next job.

From finding the best ways to display your skills, to showing how you are the right fit for the role. Applying for jobs takes planning.

The job application is the employers first contact with you. So, you need to give them a good first impression.

In this lesson, we’ll help you learn more about where to find jobs and how to apply for them. From searching for job to preparing for an interview.


  • Use a range of ways to search for a job
  • Feel able to create and tailor your CV
  • Be able to complete a job application
  • Know how to create a covering letter

Read time:

10 mins

Chapter 1

The steps to applying for a job

Read time:

3 mins

What are the steps to apply?

With such a range of jobs and ways to apply, you’ll need a clear list of steps to follow. How you use these steps can and will vary between jobs. But, having a clear pathway can make it easier not to get overwhelmed in your job search.

You may find that these steps don’t work for you. So, feel free to use them to make your own process as you get more comfortable with your job search.


One step-by-step you can follow is:

Job Search

Be able to search in a range of ways online and off

Create your CV

Design and tailor a CV that will appeal to your target employers


Know what should be in an application and how they can vary

Prep for interview

Be able to prepare for virtual and in-person interviews

The benefit

By prepping for each of these steps before applying, you create an easier pathway for yourself when applying. When you find the right job, this means you already have your CV, and other aspects you may need. You can then focus your time on tailoring them to the job.

Chapter 2

Applying for jobs

Read time:

3 mins

Where to start your job search

When you are looking for a job, whether a new job or your first one, there are many options. No matter what your next step is, you’ll need to know where to start your search.

Plus, there are many ways to find a job. Some employers post jobs online to reach more people. This gives them more options and chance of finding someone with the skills they need. Employers may post jobs to their own website or on job sites. So you might want to look at both options.

These are not the only places you can go to look for a job. You can also search offline.


Other job search options:

  • Recruiters – You can sign up with a recruitment agency who can help you find a job
  • Job Centre Plus – Most cities in the UK have job centres who can help you find a job
  • Job forums – These are events run by companies or volunteers to offer support and advice
  • Journals and trade magazines – These often have a job section more focused on your trade or industry
  • Networking sites – These are online sites where you can build contacts and they may have a job search section
  • Career events – At these events you can meet with employers and recruiters and learn more before you apply
  • Friends and family – You can learn more about the role than is on the job description
  • Newspapers – Local newspapers often have a job section or job listings
  • Social media – You may find pages or postings on local pages that share job roles
  • Other media – You may also find jobs through things like leaflets, TV or radio


How to search for a job online

First, you’ll need to select one of the many jobsites to use. Do your research and make sure you use companies have good reviews. Some examples of popular job sites or job pages in the UK include Reed, LinkedIn and Indeed. Do have a look at reviews and find the best one for you.

Once you have selected a job site to use, it will usually ask you to register and answer some questions or add some information. This is to help them to match you to jobs.

Some will let you jump straight to the job search. To search, you’ll usually need to indicate the kind of jobs you are looking for by using keywords like ‘Communication’ or role titles like ‘Accountant’. You’ll often also be able to filter by things like location.

Once you have found a job you want to apply for, you can do so from the job page. Most will have an ‘apply’ button to allow you to start. The process can very between sites, but there are some typical steps you can prepare for.

One of the main steps you can expect is needing a CV. Let’s look at this next.

Chapter 3

Create your CV

Read time:

2 mins

Why tailoring your CV is important

Tailoring your CV means you can make sure that the words and phrases used in your CV reflect each specific role.

Roles will all ask for different skills. The importance of skills will also change between jobs. Skills with spreadsheets might be important for both a personal assistant and an accountant. Evidence these skills more if you are applying to be an accountant. They are most essential to this role.


How to do tailor your CV

Things to do:

  • Read the job description
  • Identify key words and phrases
  • Update your work experience
  • Update your work-related skills
  • Update your qualifications


By reading the job description carefully, you’ll identify the keywords and specific skills listed. Include similar words in your updated CV.

Lots of employers and job sites use software to you’re your applications to make sure it uses these keywords. So, make sure your CV includes them. This will help you get to the next stage of the process.

As you create different versions of your CVs for different types of roles, save these to your device for future use. This will save you time in future.

Want to know more about creating or tailoring your CV? Look at our dedicated lesson on ‘Creating your CV’.

For now, let’s take at the next stage – putting in your application.

Chapter 4


Read time:

1 min

How to apply

With most online jobs, you’ll need to register your details with the jobsite and answer any requests for information on your experiences. The process is similar offline.

Let’s look at the steps you can take, online and offline.


Steps to apply online:

  1. Register on the jobsite you’ve found a job on
  2. Tailor and attach your CV
  3. Create your covering letter
  4. Complete any other requests
  5. Check your application
  6. Submit you application


Steps to apply offline:

  1. Identify a job
  2. Create your CV
  3. Create your covering letter
  4. Attach your CV to your covering letter
  5. Check your application
  6. Post your application


Register on the jobsite you’ve found a job on

When you register with a jobsite, you’ll need to add some personal details. The jobsite uses these to help you to apply for jobs on their site.


Tailor and attach your CV

When prompted, you’ll need to attach your CV. Make sure you spend time tailoring this to the role before you upload and double check it’s the right CV version in the right format.


Create your covering letter

Your covering letter introduces you to the employer. Not all applications will ask for a covering letter, some will make it optional.

It gives you another opportunity to summarise your skills and experience and what you can bring to the role. A covering letter should be short and concise, usually no more than five paragraphs long.

Online, your covering letter can be an email to the employer. There may be space on the application form to add this. When you’re applying offline, you’ll will need to print your covering letter and post it with your other documents.


Step 1 – Introduce yourself and how you found the job.

Example – “I am an experienced Customer Service Assistant with over 3 years’ experience.”

Step 2 – Summarise how you’re right for the job

Example – “I have a proven track record of understanding customer needs and providing the right solutions. Most recently, I developed a customer solution that helped X company improve their customer reviews by 16%.”

Step 3 – Ending your letter

The ending of your letter thanks the employer for considering your application. It also lets them know they can get more details from your CV and that you look forward to hearing from them.

End your letter with yours sincerely if you know the person. If you addressed your letter to whom it may concern, you should end the letter with yours faithfully.

Finally, make sure your contact details are right on both your cover letter and CV.

Example – “I am eager to bring these skills and experience to your company and contribute to its continued success. Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to discuss my application further.”


Complete any other employer requests

All job applications are different and vary from job to job. You may need to send in other documents beyond your CV and covering letter. This may be a copy of your ID or proof of your right to work in the UK.

As you prepare and submit your applications, it helps to have these to hand. So, as you create these documents, save them into a helpful folder.

When attaching these online make sure that these have been uploaded correctly before you submit.


Check your application

To give yourself the best possible chance, it is always advisable to check your application several times. Check your spelling and that you have attached or included everything you need to. Make sure the documents are the right ones and the right versions.


Submit your application

When you are happy with your application, it is time to submit it. You’ll normally then receive an email confirming that the company has received your application. The email tells you they’ll contact you when they have reviewed your application.

Equally if you’ve applied offline, they’ll contact you using your listed contact details if they are wanting to progress your application.

If you don’t hear back, it’s often the case that they have had many people apply. So, you haven’t been successful. Getting a rejection is a good opportunity to ask for feedback that can help improve your future applications.

Chapter 5

Prepare for interview

Read time:

1 min

What you need to consider

Getting through to the interview stage is always exciting.

The structure and setting of interviews differs from company to company. Some will have a question-based interview. Others will have tasks and questions to go through. Interviews often happen on video chat or phone calls to save on travel, but they can still happen in person.

If you need further help with preparing for an interview, we have a ‘Prepare for an interview’ lesson you can look at later. For now, let’s look at some starter tips.


Before you interview:

  • Research the company – Learn what they do, why they do it and look up their recent work
  • Prepare answers to some common questions – For example, What attracts you to our company?
  • Write down examples that show your skills and experiences – Do this for each key role skill
  • Bring a notebook – To jot thoughts, conversational points or ideas


For online interviews:

  • Test your Wi-Fi strength
  • Find somewhere quiet
  • If you are interrupted in any way, stay calm and manage the situation quickly and politely
  • Select a neutral background (avoid anything embarrassing in the background!)


Common interview questions:

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • What are your main strengths?
  • What is your main weakness?
  • What can you tell me about yourself?
  • Give me an example of a time when…


These are just a few of many options you might come across. To set yourself up with the best chance of success, you should research lots of common interview questions. Use them to make sure you have a prepared answer that fits them.

It's important that you don't force your prepared answers into a question it doesn't answer. Your answers should really answer the interviewer's question.


Bank of Scotland Academy is committed to providing information in a way that is accessible and useful for our users. This information, however, is not in any way intended to amount to authority or advice on which reliance should be placed. You should seek professional advice as appropriate and required. Any sites, products or services named in this module are just examples of what's available. Bank of Scotland does not endorse the services they provide. The information in this module was last updated on 23rd February 2024.