Common errors when applying for instructor jobs
Sometimes I would love to be able to call everyone who submitted an application through the website and offer them advice on how they could improve their chances of success. Trouble is, we get so many applications that it would quickly become a full time job. However, in the interests of helping you as a job seeker, and our advertisers who rely on us to send them the high quality applicants they require to fill their seasonal vacancies, it is definitely worth taking the time to write an article pointing out some of the common errors and simple mistakes that people make when applying for jobs in the outdoor industry. I hope that it proves interesting and that it may help at least a few of you up your game when it comes to seeking employment.
Give them a call
Want to make a good first impression? Give them a call and try to speak to the person responsible for recruitment. A lot of people end their written application with something along the lines of, "I look forward to discussing the vacancy with you". Really? Then pick up the phone and do so! Prepare in advance for the call to make sure you ask intelligent questions relating to the job and the company. Also use the call to make sure they know your name, and also get across why you should be the person they choose to employ. If you leave them thinking that you sound like a good candidate, then your written application arrives in their inbox a few minutes later, you are far more likely to get flagged for interview.
The covering letter
Just as important as the phone call is the covering letter that should accompany your CV. Use it wisely! You will either be given an email address to submit your application to, or else there will be an upload form, including space for a covering letter or introductory statement.
Not making use of this opportunity to sell yourself is a mistake, and one that a large number of people make. Of course the employer will still read your CV, so all is not lost, but if you can put yourself in a positive light from the start, you already have an advantage.
For as many people I see who do not write anything for a covering letter beyond perhaps, "please find my CV attached", there are an equal number who go too far and write a novel. Being concise is every bit as important as not saying enough. Get across your key strengths, especially where they match the position being recruited and leave it at that.
Remember to run your application through a spell checker, but not a thesaurus! Please try to avoid using words you would not ordinarily use. Every time I see, "...I have attached my CV for your perusal", I cringe. I would also suggest avoiding phrases like, "May I start this correspondence".
Keep it simple and to the point. The following is not the only way to write your letter, but if you are struggling for an example, this one would be perfectly acceptable.
The perfect cover letter
Dear [person's name],
I am writing in regards to the vacancy as advertised [specify website or job ad source], and believe I have the qualities you are looking for in a potential employee.
From reading my enclosed CV you will see I have [state your degree of experience relevant to the vacancy] experience and extensive knowledge in [state your knowledge of the subject].
Should you wish to contact me further or have any questions regarding my application please feel free to contact me using the details provided. Thank you for your time and I will look forward to hearing from you with the near future.
Some of the above applies more to offers of work that require you to email over your CV. In the adventure industry these tend to be one off or more specialist roles where you will have fewer rivals. For the more general instructor or trainee instructor roles you may well be able to swing an interview with less in the way of skills and experience, but you will almost certainly be competing with far more people.
But don't worry, as long as you put some effort into your application you will stand a fair chance of getting invited to selection or interview. The reason I say this with some confidence is because I do get to see plenty of application forms and you would be amazed at the number of people who are either going through the motions so that they can claim their benefits, or else nobody has sat down with them and shown them how to sell themselves in the job market.
Show some enthusiasm
Seriously, if you want the job, show that in what you write. The process of applying may take a couple of hours rather than the five minutes that you could spend, but get the wording right and have a friend of family member read it over before you submit it. Where you are given space to say why you want to work for them, or why you think you would make a good candidate, don't just say, "Because I enjoy being outdoors and learning new skills". That makes you unbelievably average and boring.
Experience and transferable skills
When talking about your current and previous work experience, make sure you focus on the information that is relevant to the post you are now applying for. Stock CVs and cut and pasted applications are really obvious because they leave the recruitment manager wondering why you are applying for their vacancy. You may be really proud of something you did in your career, but unless it is really amazing and more importantly, relevant, it won't be of interest to your potential employer. Show how what skills, knowledge, and experience you have gained would be useful to know in the position for which you are now applying.