BikeJobs Candidate Top Tips

At BikeJobs, our goal is to give our candidates the very best chance of getting a job when they apply for a vacancy via our website. These days it's very hard to stand out from the crowd and unless you can successfully achieve this your chances of succeeding in your job search can be dramatically reduced. Well, in order to try and help you achieve this we've put together the following guide which is based on our experience as specialist recruiters to the UK motorcycle trade. It's not a definitive guide to how to succeed in your job search - we don't have a magic formula that will guarantee you success. What we can do though is do our very best to help stack the odds more in your favour. It's a very competitive jobs market out there with more candidates than ever applying for each vacancy and we believe that we have a responsibility to all of our candidates to give you the edge where ever we can. So we've put together the following which we hope will go some way to achieving just that.


Step 1 - Decide what kind of job you're looking for.

The first decision you'll need to make is what kind of job you're looking for. In the motorcycle industry, there is a multitude of different kinds of jobs and roles, all requiring different qualifications, skills and experience. If you currently work in the trade, you may want a fresh challenge or you may want to try your hand in a different role. If you currently do not work in the trade, it may be that you have an unhealthy passion for all things motorbikes and believe your skills to be transferable. Whatever your circumstances it's important you really think carefully about your next move - it could be your most important yet. Listed below are some of the main things we think you'll need to consider in order to give yourself the best possible opportunity of landing that dream job.


Step 2 - Writing a CV.

Your CV is the first information any future employer will receive about you when you apply for a vacancy via the BikeJobs website. As such it is probably the most important element which will determine whether or not you get passed the first stage and get an interview. All of this is very obvious you may say but it's amazing how many people seem to neglect to spend the necessary time on preparing their CV. The following points will help to guide you in putting together an effective CV.

What's the aim of your CV?

The answer to this is simple - it's to get you an interview with a prospective employer.
If only it was so simple! What you need to bear in mind when putting your CV together is that the person to whom you are sending your CV is probably going to receive dozens of other CVs for the same job. So in order to make sure you get an interview, your CV is going to have to stand out from the crowd - in a good way! Your CV needs to demonstrate that you are the right person for the job by highlighting:

  1. Specific skills you have to offer the prospective employer.
  2. Any relevant experience you have that supports your application.
  3. The personal qualities you have that you feel are right for the role.
  4. An understanding of the job requirements.

Also, going back to the earlier point above regarding the number of CVs any prospective employer is probably going to receive from other applicants, your CV should be:

  1. Short and concise enough to read quickly, ideally no more than 2 sides of A4.
  2. Clearly laid out in a logical order (we always advise most recent job first) with sufficient spacing and clear headings.
  3. Relevant for the role. Do not fall into the trap of sending the same CV to multiple employers for multiple vacancies. It's easier but we guarantee you it is not effective. Even where vacancies may appear to be the same, different employers might be looking for different qualities and experience. Your CV must show that you can fulfil each specific job role and that you are the right sort of person for that role.

How should you present your CV?

Your CV is a reflection of you. A poorly presented, generic CV will reflect poorly on you. Conversely, a professionally laid out, thoughtfully put together and specific CV will reflect positively on you. So that said you need to:

  1. Choose a clear, professional typeface to ensure that your CV can be easily read (eg. Arial or Times New Roman).
  2. Avoid typos or spelling mistakes, not only by spell checking but by proper proofreading your own CV and preferably getting someone else to proofread it for you.
  3. Organise your document into clear headings (work experience, education) so that these can be easily scanned.
  4. Order your experience and education in reverse chronological order to highlight your most recent experience first.

The general rule of thumb is your CV should be clear enough for any potential employer to scan and understand quickly. Additionally, it should be easy to appraise your key skills and experience to determine whether or not you are appropriate for the role. Remember, the most important impression is the first impression and first impressions are usually made in the first few seconds of meeting someone or in this case reading your CV.

What are the most common CV issues?

Writing an effective CV is a challenging task and not something arrived at by accident. Here are some of the more common issues to look out for:

"My CV will fill at least 3 or 4 pages"

In many cases, it will be difficult to fit all of your skills, experience and education into a two page CV document. However, when putting your CV together you should bear in mind that:

  1. Employers are most interested in the skills and experience relevant to the job you're applying for.
  2. Your most recent experience and educational achievements will be more interesting to potential employers.
  3. Shorter CVs are easier to read and so your CV will be more likely to receive a proper appraisal if it's a maximum of 2 A4 pages long.

"I'm changing careers"

If you don't have much experience in a role or are changing careers completely, you should try to highlight your skills to a potential employer. An effective way of achieving this is by including a "Career Objective" section. This should highlight what you're looking to achieve in your next role as well as highlighting any experience in a different field that might still be appropriate for the job you're applying for.

"I've had gaps between jobs"

Many job seekers at some stage have had a gap in their career, for travelling, whilst changing jobs or for a whole host of other reasons. If your experience does contain gaps, these can be dealt with in a number of ways:

  1. Travel and voluntary work should be included in your skills and experience.
  2. Specify years only in work dates rather than months and years. This doesn't mean any gaps won't be spotted but it does mean that you stand a better chance of being able to explain any gaps in an interview rather than being overlooked because of them.

"I don't have many qualifications"

If you don't have many qualifications to include in your CV you can still emphasise any skills and experience you have gained in your work or elsewhere. If a lack of qualifications is hindering your progress you could apply for part-time training which shows you are working towards increasing your qualifications and demonstrates a willingness to learn and better yourself to any potential employers. Alternatively, you might want to consider increasing your experience by undertaking some voluntary work.


Step 3 - How to write an effective covering letter.

You don't have to submit a covering letter as well as your CV with your job application but they are today an accepted part of the job application process. An effective covering letter, so long as it's not too long, can really help highlight your application above all the others. So if you choose to submit one, a covering letter can be a great opportunity for you to highlight that you have the skills and experience for a role, whilst ensuring that the prospective employer also gives your CV the attention it also deserves. This section covers a number areas that we feel will help to improve your covering letter should you choose to write one with your CV:

The aim of a covering letter

Your covering letter should not simply re-iterate what your CV says, it needs to perform a different function altogether. Essentially, it needs to be a quick summary of your skills and experience and it needs to be specifically targeted at the job you are applying for. It is essentially a marketing document that you need to use to sell your relevant skills and experience for the role you are applying for to ensure your CV gets a proper viewing and to help you get through to the interview stage.

What to include in a covering letter

Covering letters, like CVs, will vary in content depending on the role you are applying for and your own skills and experience. However, generally, any prospective employer will probably expect to see the following:

Your contact details - address, phone numbers, e-mail address etc.

Details of the job you're applying for and where you saw it advertised.

A brief summary of your recent experience and what you've gained from this.

Why you feel your skills and experience are suitable for the role you are applying for in response to the job spec as outlined in the vacancy ad.

Keep it brief

Your covering letter should be kept as short and concise as possible and certainly should not exceed more than one page of A4.

Refer to your CV

Your covering letter should highlight the key parts of your CV that you feel will be of real interest to the prospective employer in direct relation to the job that is being advertised.

Match yourself to the job

Your covering letter should highlight the skills and experience on your CV that match the job requirements of the vacancy ad. Remember, if you submit a covering letter, potential employers will use it as a means of pre-screening your application before they read your CV. So it will need to show that you meet their requirements.

Do your homework

If approached correctly, a covering letter provides a great opportunity to show that you have thought properly about the job you are applying for and have done some research. So when explaining why you're interested in the job you are applying for, try to show some knowledge of the company you're applying to if you know who they are.

Explain gaps in work history

As your covering letter is a marketing document you should use it to highlight what you've gained from recent work experience. Additionally, if you have gaps in your work history, you probably won't have space to explain these in your CV. So your covering letter provides an ideal opportunity to explain what you were doing during these gaps and what skills and experience you might have picked up along the way.

Putting together an effective covering letter is not easy so think carefully before deciding if you want to submit one or not. Whilst a good covering letter should definitely help your application, a covering letter that hasn't been put together properly will definitely have the opposite effect. Only do one if you feel confident enough to put one together and you genuinely feel it will support your application.


Step 4 - Interview advice.

Whilst recruiting the right candidate is not an exact science, the interview is still the main tool that any prospective employer will use to select the right candidate for them. Whilst you cannot control the quality of the other candidates you may be up against, you can control how you perform and come across an interview. So in this section, we're going over some of the information you may find useful to help you successfully overcome the hurdles of attending an interview. Some of what we point out you may find obvious but often it's the obvious that catches us out when we're under pressure to perform.

1. Before the Interview:

Probably the most important part of the whole interview process is how you prepare for it beforehand. Whether or not you take the time to plan and prepare for your interview will very often determine success or failure before you've even started. Being well prepared will not only give you an idea of what to expect come the time but perhaps even more importantly it will give you the all-important confidence that you'll need to carry you through. Here are just a few things you may want to cover as part of your preparation before attending an interview:

Company research

Any prospective employer will expect you to have a good grasp of what their company does, how big it is, when it was formed, what its main market is and who its competitors are. With these facts at hand, you will at least be able to hold a meaningful conversation about the company and it shows that you take an interest in it.

Role research

You need to make sure that you fully understand the job description and know how it fits into the overall company structure. If you have any questions about the role make sure you bring them to the interview with you. Ask yourself what the key skills are that the job requires and be able to give examples of occasions where you have demonstrated those skills.

Interview research

Make sure you find out what format the interview will take. Often they can be a combination of standard interviews questions and role-specific tests such as role plays and psychometric questionnaires. The fewer surprises on the day the better!

2. On the day of the Interview:

Make sure you dress appropriately for the interview. In the bike trade, some interviews do not require you to turn up in a suit and tie but there may be occasions where that is the appropriate dress code. The golden rule is if in doubt then ensure you err on the side of smartness. Also, make sure you are punctual - try to arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. If you are going to be unavoidably late for whatever reason then it's critical that you at least inform the interviewer as soon as possible.

3. The Interview itself:

This is the point at which you are likely to be under most pressure but the following points should help you to keep a clear thought process and head:

Don't assume anything. Having got this far, you will be evaluated on your answers, not on your CV. Therefore make sure that your answers support what's in your CV.

Pause a couple of seconds before you answer each question. Even if you know exactly what it is you want to say, this gives you time to plan and produce much more concise answers. This also gives you time to collect your thoughts, especially if you have drawn a blank. It is better to think for a few moments and make sure your answer is going to do you justice.

If you don't understand a question ask for clarification. This is expected and always preferable to giving an unsuitable answer.

Never answer a question with a "yes" or "no" - always expand.

The interview is an opportunity for you to sell yourself, so don't be afraid to blow your own trumpet, without coming across as being arrogant. As long as you can back up what you are saying with examples which demonstrate that what you are saying is true then you are not bragging.

Be very positive. Don't fall into the trap of complaining about anything - from your former employer to the weather - and don't apologise for any experience that you don't have, there's nothing you can do about that. Just sell what you are and what you do have and let the potential employer decide if it's good enough or not.

Don't be afraid to repeat important or relevant points.

Be confident, be positive and look directly at the interviewer when you talk and listen, speak clearly, be enthusiastic and express a keen interest in the position, stick to the point, be concise and always be honest. The most important thing to remember is that an interview is a two-way process. You are there to find out information about them as much as they are there to find out information about you. This is your chance to not only sell yourself to your potential future employer but also to find out information that isn't perhaps in the job description or vacancy ad and this can help you make an informed decision about whether or not the job is definitely right for you.