How Will I Get There?


In this section you will find a wealth of information on how you are going to get to where you want to go including: CV & Cover Letter tips, Interview Advice, Study Advice, Work Placement and Motivation tips.


Click on the below sections to reveal more information.


CVs and Cover Letters


It is extremely important that you have your CV updated and in pristine condition as competition is so high these days in every field. Employers and recruitment agencies may see hundreds of CVs every day, so it is important to make your CV stand out.


Some facts:

  • Employers look at a CV for, on average, 15 seconds before deciding if it goes on the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ pile.
  • 68% of employers will see your Facebook/other social media accounts.
  • An average of 250 CVs are received per job advert.
  • 76% of CVs are ignored if the email address is unprofessional.
  • 88% jobs are rejected if a photo has been included.
  • In 2016, of a sample of some 500 CVs received by a Dublin Agency, only 8% passed the basic quality test.
  • Remember, a prospective employer only spends 40 seconds reading each CV on the ‘Yes’ pile, so you want it to really stand out.
  • Today’s HR function scans CVs for skills, experience and qualifications relevant to the job. If you don’t have key words or phrases in your CV, HR will not really notice you.
  • If employers call your number and you have an unprofessional voicemail, they will not leave a message or call you back – bet you didn’t even think of that one!


So, as you can see from the above facts, just putting together a general CV and hoping for the best, is just not enough anymore. You need to tailor your CV to whatever job you are applying for and make sure to add key words and phrases from your field. HR and recruitment agencies use systems which look for these key words and phrases.

If they are not on the CV, then it is rejected straight away, so make sure you know your industry well. Some key words in the healthcare industry may be ‘patient manual handling’ or ‘client-centred care’, while in childcare, it may be ‘special needs’ or ‘Tusla’.

The same can be said for cover letters. Many students query if there is any need for a cover letter, as all the relevant information is already on the CV. The answer is most definitely yes – when you put together a good cover letter it shows the employer that you have put in a little extra effort with your application and if you make the cover letter stand out, they will want to read your CV and not just skim over it.

Once you become a registered student with The Open College you will have access to a free course which will teach you more information on CVs and cover letters and samples for different categories.



If the employer likes the look of your CV and cover letter, or if they impressed by your profile on LinkedIn, you will be invited for interview. This is great news, but what do you do … you panic!

Why is this – it’s the fear of the unknown. What if they ask you a question you don’t know, what if you freeze, what clothes will you wear!

What you need to do here is shut down the negative thoughts. If you keep thinking these thoughts, your brain will believe them.

However, if you take control of your negative thoughts and think of the interview as a great opportunity to show your skills and experience, your brain will start to believe this too. Instead of thinking ‘I’m dreading this interview, I will probably not know how to answer the questions’, think ‘I am excited about the interview as I can tell them about my experience and skills which makes me most suitable for the job’. Keep thinking like this and your brain will start to shut down the negative thoughts.

If you think about it logically, you have studied hard and gained some excellent work experience, you should have no problems answering the questions posed. Have a think about what you have achieved in life so far – why should an interview be any different! Give yourself more credit – you are more than capable of doing well and answering those questions with confidence.

Preparation is key, so whenever you get the invitation to the interview, start preparing straight away. Find out what kind of clothes they wear and wear similar clothes to interview. Research the company and find out things like company size, year established and also if they have won any awards or are involved with charities. Being able to talk about this at interview will really impress them.

Practice your interview questions as much as possible. Find out if it is a competency or traditional interview. The traditional interview is normally you with one or two on the panel asking you questions and making notes. Competency interviews involve asking you questions about the specific skills they are looking for, so have lots of examples of times where you used these skills and you cannot go wrong.

Find out location and arrive early. The company may have its main address, but the interviews could be taking place at another venue. Do a trial run of your journey and arrive at least 15 minutes before the interview commences.

Once you become a registered student with The Open College you will have access to more interviews tips and also some role play interview videos on what a good and bad interview looks like.


Study Tips


Hopefully you will find the following tips helpful while studying for your distance course with The Open College. Learning how to study is one of the most important skills you can acquire as it’s like teaching yourself how to learn. If your past attempts at study resulted in you not getting on very well, then your approach to study needs to change.


The better your technique, the better chance you have of improving your marks and achieving your potential.

  • Read your course – the most important thing to do is to read your notes and modules on the course. Highlight the most valuable information so it’s easy to find the next time you read over it. Make a note of due dates for assignments and add reminders. You will have more of a handle on what is due and when.


  • Create a timetable – make a weekly timetable and enter what subjects you are going to study each day and when you will write up your assignments and projects. If you are completing a work placement, the timetable will have to change slightly to allow for the days on work placement.


  • Establish a comfortable and peaceful workplace – whether you decide to study at the office or at home, you need to find a place where you can work well and not be disturbed. Make sure you have a good internet connection and access to power. Tell your family that you are studying in this area and not to interrupt or disturb you.


  • Be organised – organise your files so you can find information easily and keep a copy of everything you submit just in case your computer crashes. Make sure your computer is working well and install any software you might need. Make a note of all your deadlines for assignments and projects well in advance and always plan.


  • Manage time – this is essential to online and distance courses. Life can be very busy, especially if you are working at the same time or raising a family or both. You need to manage your time so that you can get enough study time and enough time to complete assignments. Distance learning courses offer you the flexibility to study in your own time, so you can even do a lot at the weekend if you don’t have time during the week.


  • Set time limits – give yourself time limits to complete study and assignments. Try to estimate how long it will take to complete an assignment or read the notes and work to these timeframes.


  • Understand online and distance learning – you need to dedicate a lot of your time to study, so try to stay as focused as you can and fully commit to the learning process and complete your assignments and projects on time.


  • Create to-do lists – at the beginning of each week have a do-to list of the tasks you need to complete by the end of the week or have a diary you can enter tasks for each day and cross them off as you go along.


  • Do not procrastinate – try to stick to your timetable and don’t keep putting things off. Tasks will build up and you will be left feeling very pressurised and stressed.


  • Take study breaks – it is important to take study breaks if you are tired and not getting anywhere. Take regular breaks away from where you are studying. Have something to eat or a cup of tea. Doing a short meditation will help you re-focus. If you are having a particularly unpleasant and stressful day then its best to leave it until the next day, as you won’t be very productive.


  • Review and revise – it is important to review and revise the information for assignments, projects and work placement.


  • Ask questions – make sure to ask for help if you are unsure about anything. Our friendly staff at The Open College are on hand to deal with any queries and you will get a dedicated tutor for your course that you can contact online.


  • Have support – make sure that you have supportive friends and family around that will be quiet when you need to study or maybe take the kids for a few hours while you get your work done.


If you have to do an exam as part of your course:


  • Read the instructions and the questions carefully around 3 to 4 times so you know exactly how to answer the questions properly.


  • Check which questions are essential to answer and which ones you have a choice in.


  • Divide your time between questions, for example – if you have four questions to answer in two hours, dedicate 30 minutes to each question.


  • Plan your answer – write down the main bullet points to the answer and work off these.


  • Start with the question you think is easiest – this will build up your confidence to answer the others.


  • Mind the time – always keep an eye on the time – time seems to fly during exams.


  • Don’t clutter – try not to have too many things on the table. Your pens, paper to answer, exam paper, and bottle of water should be more than enough items on the table.


  • Re-read – if have time at the end, read over your answers and check if there is anything you should add or take away.


  • Stick to the point – do not waffle when answering and stick to the most relevant information.


  • Stay hydrated – don’t forget to bring a bottle of water – a small one as you don’t want to be running to the loo all the time!


Placement Tips


Gaining practical experience in your chosen field is critical to the successful learning and understanding of the job. Not many employers will take you on today if you do not have some relevant experience.

Graduate jobs are offered without experience but almost every college course now requires each student to complete a certain number of hours work experience as part of their overall course. If you make a good impression on your employer, they may keep you on full time or recommend you for another job.

At The Open College, we pride ourselves in assisting our students if they have difficulty sourcing a work placement. We have made many contacts established over the years, especially in the Healthcare and Childcare sectors, and we are only too happy to help with any queries you may have.

The best advice we can give is to get out there, do your research and introduce yourself to employers – this shows enthusiasm and initiative and shows that you don’t need help finding a placement. An employer will be impressed with this and always remember – they remember a face quicker than a sheet of paper (CV). You need to be prepared beforehand and know exactly what you are looking for and why you would fit in with their organisation.

The process is very like an actual interview and it is a good way to get to know different organisations before making your decision. If you post or email your CV it may be saved in a folder or forgotten about.

Picture this – you are an employer who is not necessarily looking for any more employees or new staff. A student calls in to your business who is smartly dressed and has their CV and qualifications neatly in a folder, inquiring about a placement – the fact that this person has put in so much effort makes you naturally want to talk to them more. Do you think you would consider taking the person on? Off course you would!

On the other hand, if you just get an enquiry via email with a CV attached, you must make time to go through the CV and read the email, you would either hit delete or save to a folder which won’t be looked at for a while– which scenario sounds better to you?




There is a lot of effort needed from you when completing a distance course, so you need to find a way to stay motivated.


  • Tell your friends and family that you are completing the course – they will help motivate you when times are tough.


  • Try to get a friend on board to do the course with you, then you can support and motivate one another.


  • Accept that there will be good days and bad days. Some days you will be very productive and others not very productive due to tiredness and family life.


  • Make your study place bright and cheerful where you enjoy working.


  • Study at your own pace and don’t feel pressured. As long as you make note of your due dates and work towards these, you can plan it your way.


  • Reward yourself – every time you finish a difficult assignment or project, reward yourself with a massage, a facial or a top you had your eye on for ages!


  • Don’t forget about your ‘me-time’ – you need some time out from study. Always remember to do the things you enjoy doing and relax. Go for a swim or have a relaxing weekend away somewhere. Sit somewhere quiet and meditate or read a magazine or attend a Yoga or Pilates class.


  • Always remember the reason you are doing the course. Write it on a Post-It and put it where you can always see it. The pressure of study and assignments can get on top of you but remembering why you are doing the course will help you re-focus.


  • Eat healthy energy boosting snacks like nuts and raisins. These will give you prolonged energy boosts.


  • Stay positive – you will enjoy learning and completing the course. The good times will outweigh the bad so don’t fret. Everything will work out – you will be so proud of yourself once you complete the course and feel a huge sense of achievement.