Career advice

Inside...Martin Smith Opticians

Practice manager of Lincoln-based Martin Smith Opticians, Sue Edwards, on reading every covering letter and CV that passes her desk and the importance of a smile


How can prospective employees apply for a position at Martin Smith Opticians?

We would encourage interested employees to approach us directly. We have appointed staff recently, and each time it is as a result of us receiving a letter just dropped into our practice, from interested and pro-active individuals asking if there are any opportunities to work with us. A personal, handwritten letter with a Curriculum Vitae attached is something that I would always read – I am always keen to try to help anyone get a start in our wonderful industry.

What is the internal process after an application is made?

It is quite a simple process because we are a single independent practice and therefore all applications are assessed by myself in my role as practice manager. I will reply to every job application and invite each person to be seen initially by myself. Shortlisted applications are invited to a second interview, which will also involve a meeting with practice owner, Dr Martin Smith, prior to final selection. 

What is the interview process?

My preferred interviewing style is relaxed and initially quite informal. I would expect the applicant to dress as they would expect to come to work, and would be looking for someone who would fit well into our team. Experience is good, but an interest in our business and the right attitude, personality and enthusiasm are always considered.   

What makes a CV standout?

I genuinely do read a CV thoroughly. I am always looking for someone who has a good work ethic and who has shown a drive and a passion for what they have done. I am also looking for a clear account of their working history, with full descriptions of their experience and the skills used in their current role. References are important and I will always follow up on a previous employer reference. The CV needs to be organised and well-structured, with good spelling and style.   

"A smart individual with a smiling, friendly attitude is always going to impress me"

What are you looking for in a cover letter and why?

The covering letter is really important and I want to know why the person has applied for a job with us. A neatly handwritten letter, that is concise and relevant, and provides all the essential contact information for the applicant is what I am after.   

How should a candidate best prepare for interview?

The candidate needs to know about Martin Smith Opticians and ideally have researched the type of business we are. As an award-winning practice with clinical expertise, I would expect the preparation to include building a knowledge about Dr Smith, the practice, and the awards we have won. Our own website is full of information and is an essential place to gather knowledge. Candidates should have thought carefully about why they want to work with us, as well as about what they would like to know about working with us. They should arrive for the interview smartly dressed for work, and smile – our industry is essentially customer service and I would be looking for someone who impresses me with their style and personal appearance.

What three interview tips would you give a candidate? 

Prepare well by researching the business and the location; smile and do your best to make a good impression; and try to relate any work experience you have to the job you want and be enthusiastic. 

I expect a candidate to be nervous and in many ways would find that reassuring as it demonstrates a desire to be successful. However, the interview is a really important part of the process and candidates should try to present themselves well – a smart individual with a smiling, friendly attitude is always going to impress me.

What are your interview ‘pet peeves’

It is disappointing if the interviewee has not prepared well and knows nothing about our business. Today, with access to the internet, it is easy to do your research. Another ‘pet peeve’ is a lack of punctuality, which is a big negative.

Sum up your ideal candidate in three words:

Enthusiastic, reliable, honest.