Author: Ana Alibegova
When you apply for a job, a scholarship, or an internship there are about thousands of questionnaires to be filled out, and hundreds of papers to be written. How to manage all this and be the one they select? Just follow the words of advice listed below and try to understand the whole procedure. At the end of the day, you will be the one to win!
Most of the surveys conducted on youth population around the world show that one of the biggest problems why young people do not dare to apply for some scholarship or internship is the complicated procedure. This complicated procedure includes the writing of several papers, the sending of documents and the constant checking of the mail box. ‘Bureaucracy’ is not the most interesting thing for young people, but still they need to understand that it has to be done in order to receive some allowance and pay the costs of the studies or the internship. The first and the most important advice would be: “Don’t fight against the so-called bureaucracy, just accept the fact that nobody can give you the money just like that”. After reading all the materials about a particular program that offers scholarships and checking the deadlines, you should start preparing your application. Regardless of whether you apply for a scholarship or for a job, you will be asked to send the basic documents: a CV and a motivation letter. Some companies ask for some additional documents as well, such as transcript of records, certificates or references. After the written application, the shortlisted candidates are invited for an interview. The final decision, in most cases, is reached after the interview.
Good preparation is the key to a successful application. Defining your wishes, aims and vision in not an easy thing to do. The most important thing, however, is to sort all the information in a well-defined format that can make your professional and personal qualities visible. Below is some information on the documents you need when filling out an application.
CV – the most important experiences in one place
After finding a program, or an application call you think you are eligible for, you should start by ‘persuading them’ that you are the best candidate for the program. To do this pay attention to the following steps – put emphasis on your education, stress your work experience, provide a detailed summary of extracurricular activities and try to show a clear link between all your personal and professional information and the objectives of the program or the company.
The CV is the best way to sell yourself. Many experts in the field of Human Resources Management would agree with this statement. CV is an abbreviation of Curriculum Vitae, loosely translated as ‘course of life’. A shorter alternative is simply vita, the Latin word for “life”. The purpose of the CV is to inform prospective employers of the job seeker’s qualifications for a position. There are a few companies that prefer not to receive a CV at all in the application process, but rather produce their own application form that must be completed when applying for the position. Of those, some also allow applicants to attach a CV in support of the application. The reason some companies prefer to process applications this way is to standardize the information they receive, as there can be many variables within a CV and, therefore, the company often does not get all the information it requires during the application stage. When applying for a job or a scholarship, it is really important to make the first impression positive, by sending a well structured CV.
Different kinds of CVs are required in different countries. In some states in the US and Canada, a detailed CV is a must, with all the experiences and activities included. Contrary to this practice, some other countries (and companies) insist on short CVs, listing only the most relevant experience. It is definitely important to know the company or the organisation you apply to, so that you can adjust your CV to their length requirements. Usually, when applying for a European programme, it is best that you use a Europass CV. It is considered a standard in most European countries and provides a good data organisation. The Europass CV enables you to make your skills and qualifications visible, and other Europass documents to be attached to it. The Europass CV replaced the European CV, launched in 2002.
A good CV contains several categories: personal information, education and trainings, work experience, personal skills and competences, language proficiency, additional information and annexes. When writing a CV it is good practice to sort all the information in a table, so the necessary data can be more visible. It is always better to adjust the CV according to the type of application and the programme requirements.
Letter of motivation – or why am I the right person for the programme?
A cover letter/covering letter or motivation/motivational letter/letter of motivation is a letter of introduction attached to, or accompanying another document such as a résumé or curriculum vitae. Usually, the motivation letter inspires the commission to go through your CV. Confusion over cover letter style is rampant because survey after survey clearly shows that no one style stands out as the “best” or “most effective” to use. Not such a long time ago, the most common mistakes when writing a cover letter were published. Among them were a lack of focus to a particular position or function, rehashing what’s on the resume and an overuse of the personal pronoun “I”.
The letter of motivation at most is the personal signature of your application. Always try to “keep it short and simple”, but still interesting, creative and individualistic. The form of the cover letter is as important as the content. Use the format of a formal letter, use clear and concise sentences, describe your strong and weak sights, describe why you want to be selected and give a clear answer to the question why you are the person they need. When applying for a scholarship or some specific programme, stress the moment of transferring the know-how gathered abroad or at the host institution.
In addition, scholarshipnet puts an emphasis on the following points: Layout – the layout is that of a formal business letter; Structure – ideally, a cover letter has no more than four paragraphs; and Enclosure – it is customary for formal letters to mention whether you have enclosed any documents accompanying the letter.
After finishing the CV and the letter of motivation and sending them, the next step is the invitation for an interview. There you will have the chance to show your personality and strong motivation for the scholarship.