- 1 1. Read the job description- Then reread it again!
- 2 2. Tailor your CV to the Job Requirements
- 3 3. Include a cover letter
- 4 4. Keep it relevant and be honest.
- 5 5. Check your grammar and spelling
- 6 6. Use the STAR method to answer comprehension questions.
- 7 7. How to structure an email to the employer with your job application
- 8 Final Thoughts
- 9 8. Take your time
- 10 9. Speak their language
- 11 10. Sell yourself
- 12 11. Keep it relevant
- 13 12. Include a cover letter
- 13.1 13. Read over the job application
- 13.2 14. Use a professional name and email address
- 13.3 15. Follow the instructions
- 13.4 16. Tailor your cover letter to the job
- 13.5 17. Include keywords in your resume
- 13.6 18. Check your responses for errors
- 13.7 19. Track your applications when applying for multiple jobs
- 13.8 20. Tidy your social media profiles
- 13.9 21. Upload your resume
- 13.10 22. Review before submitting
- 13.11 Related
Writing a job application can be time-consuming, but by spending a few minutes implementing these tips, you can help build a stronger application. This can directly lead to more interviews and potentially landing that elusive offer. These tips are not exhaustive, and every company is looking for different requirements, so be sure to read and reread the job description. It will pay off in the long run – trust us.
Do you have any tips you use when writing job applications? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Read the job description- Then reread it again!
Though this may seem like an obvious thing to do, many people skip over it. Before starting your job application, read over the job description to get a clear idea of what the role entails.
Look for common keywords listed in the job description so you can include those keywords in your job application. For example, if a company is looking for “a highly motivated, ambitious individual” – you can insert this keyword into your application by providing examples of how you consider yourself to be “a highly motivated, ambitious individual.”
Why is this important?
It’s no secret that employers often use software, e.g. Automated Tracking Systems, to filter out their applicant pool. Therefore, this software will be designed to pick up keywords the company has selected like “highly motivated or ambitious”. By reading through the job description in detail and ensuring that in your job application, you include any of the keywords that are mentioned, you will be helping yourself get shortlisted for the next round of interviews.
Even if the company you are applying for doesn’t use this software, it is certain that they will still be looking for candidates who have included the keywords as this shows that they have taken the time to read the job description thoroughly and are therefore passionate about applying for the position.
Another important reason to read the job description is to show you understand who they are looking to hire and what the role entails. In your desire to submit your application quickly, it may make you miss essential requirements in your application. Therefore, giving employers reasons to discard your application as they feel you don’t have the right skillset or didn’t bother reading the requirements. It’s a sloppy mistake that can be avoided.
Are you having trouble understanding some of the technical terms mentioned in job descriptions? Check out this job jargon dictionary to help you understand some of the technical terms so that you are able to use them correctly in your next job application.
2. Tailor your CV to the Job Requirements
You know how you can typically tell when someone is trying to sell you something, and it’s the same pitch they gave to the person before you and the person before them as well? Well, this is the same situation for you if you try to use the same job application for all the companies you are applying for. In this case, one size does not fit all.
Employers will be able to pick up on the fact that you did not spend enough time tailoring your CV for their particular company and role. This is something that is very easy for employers to pick up and is one of the biggest reason that many graduates applications are rejected as it shows a lack of effort and passion for the role. When you are applying for a job, it can be tempting to apply to as many roles as possible as you feel like that will give you the best opportunity of success.
However, when it comes to writing a job application quality is key. So instead of going for volume, spend a few extra minutes learning about the company, the role and then use this to tailor your job application and CV to include information specific to the role and company and explain what about the job description made you want to apply for the position.
In doing so, your application will be that much stronger, and it shows you have put time and effort into the application which will help you stand out from the other candidates who have just submitted the same application over and over to every company.
3. Include a cover letter
Cover letters are a little bit like working out. No one really likes to work out, but we do it because it keeps us healthy. Cover letters can be tedious but are incredibly important to help you write a successful job application and get you noticed by the hiring manager.
Even if the application says that a cover letter is optional many employers will not even consider the application, unless one is included, this is an easy way for them to narrow down the number of candidates as the ones who provide both a CV and cover letter have shown more dedication so are more likely to be selected than someone who has just sent in a CV.
A cover letter is a way to introduce yourself to the employer and let them know about your skillset and the reason why you believe you would be a good fit for the job. Use this time to show your enthusiasm and your motivations for applying for the role.
Additionally, cover letters can help you stand out from the crowd as not many people write them. Therefore, by taking the time to write a cracking cover letter, you’ll be able to sell yourself and your skill set as well as being able to discuss your experience in more detail than you can with just a CV. You learn more about how to write a powerful cover letter here
4. Keep it relevant and be honest.
Though you may want to include every single work experience you have done, it is best only to include relevant experiences. By adding experience that is more relevant to the current role you are applying for, you will be able to grab the attention of the employer as it will highlight your relevant skills to the job and how you may be able to transfer those skills to the job position.
In addition to this, make sure that you are sincere in your application. Honesty is the best policy when it comes to job applications. Though you may be eager to add a little extra oomph to your CV, putting down skills you don’t have could lead to you being rejected later in the process if they are found to not be accurate
5. Check your grammar and spelling
I know this sounds very basic, but it is one of the most essential parts of writing a job application and is often overlooked in the rush to finish and submit it. Your cover letter and application will be the employer’s first impression of you and your writing skills. The fastest way to mess this up is to have spelling and grammatical errors.
After you’ve completed your application, have someone read through it to look for mistakes before you submit it. If no one is around, copy it into Google Translate and listen for any potential errors.
It is crucial to take the time to ensure your application is as strong as it can be – by taking the time to check for spelling and grammar mistakes, you’ll be doing just that, you don’t want to have spent hours making sure that you have included relevant experience and the keywords only to be rejected because of a spelling mistake or poor grammar.
6. Use the STAR method to answer comprehension questions.
Comprehension questions are becoming increasingly common as part of a job application. With comprehension questions, it is important to keep it concise and informative. One of the best ways to do this is, is to follow the STAR method.
What is the STAR method, you’re probably asking yourself? It is a structured way to respond to comprehension and behavioural questions. It helps you better answer the Situation, Task, Action and Result of what you’re describing. Here’s a breakdown of how to use it:
S: Describe the situation that you were in or the project that needed to be done. E.g. “My company was not getting enough brand awareness, and we were struggling to get clients to trust and recognise us.
T: What was the goal to fix the situation? E.g. “Our goal was to plan, create, and promote our brand on social media to help promote brand awareness.”
A: What actions did you take to address the situation? E.g. “We created a brand story video and uploaded it to our social media to explain who we are and what our mission is. We also did interviews with the press to help increase our reach.”
R: What was the result after addressing the situation? Describe it. E.g. “We saw a 15% increase in our following on our social media platforms and 20% increase in people reaching out to us about our products and services after having seen or read our story.”
7. How to structure an email to the employer with your job application
Last, but certainly not least, structuring your email. Though it’s most common to submit your application via application portals – it’s not uncommon for employers to request you send your job application form directly to them.
In this case, how you structure your email is essential as, like a cover letter, it serves as a first impression. Here are some of the key things to ensure you include in that email;
- Focus on your subject line – Make it clear and concise. In the era of smartphones, you want to make sure that your subject line isn’t too lengthy. Try to keep it short and avoid being too vague. A good subject line will include your name, the name of the position you are applying for and the company name. E.g. “Jane Doe, Application: Social Media Manager at The Marketing Experts”
- Address the Hirer – Start your email by addressing the hiring manager with their name like “Dear Amanda”. If there’s no name available, consider saying “Dear Sir or Madam or To whom it may concern.”
- State the reason for your email – Be sure to include the purpose of your email, for example, by saying “Please find my application for the Social Media Manager position.”
- Market yourself – Spend a paragraph or two describing you, your skillset, and why you would make a good fit for the position. If you are providing a cover letter as part of the application, make sure this is not just copied from that as the employer will notice, and it can appear lazy.
- Thank them for their time – End your email by thanking them for their time and for reading your application and say that you are looking forward to hearing from them soon.
8. Take your time
Rushed applications that are not personalised will be immediately obvious to employers and can give the impression that you don’t care about getting the role. It makes more sense to submit five tailored, specific, well thought-out applications that will stand out to employers than 10 generic applications that are far less likely to get you noticed. Plus, taking your time will allow you to double check details like the company name and the name of the person you are contacting, as well as ensure you catch any spelling or grammar errors that may have otherwise slipped through. Remember to make sure your LinkedIn profile, if you have one, is consistent with the experience you are highlighting.
9. Speak their language
Make sure you know what the employer is asking for with our job ad glossary and respond so that the person reading can see exactly how your skills and experience match. There will be specific words and phrases they use to describe their ideal candidate, so reference these in your application.
10. Sell yourself
Write your application in a way that focuses on the positive impact of your day-to-day work. Verbs like ‘transformed’, ‘delivered’, ‘produced’ and ‘organised’ help to clearly demonstrate your action and its impact. Check out a sample CV with more detailed tips.
11. Keep it relevant
While you may want to include every little bit of experience you have, it’s important to grab the employer’s attention, which means putting most emphasis on skills and experience that are specifically relevant to the job. Anything in your application that doesn’t respond to requirements listed in the ad should either be left out of the application or only be mentioned briefly towards the end. Once you’re done, check the length. Recruiters read a lot of applications, so it’s important to be ruthless with text length. If you’re unsure how to cut down your application, ask someone you trust for help.
12. Include a cover letter
A cover letter is a document that you submit alongside your CV that introduces you to the employer and gives you a chance to talk directly to them, emphasising your enthusiasm for the organisation and the role. If there is an opportunity to submit one, you should (even if it’s not mandatory) as it will add to your chances of standing out
13. Read over the job application
Reading the job application may seem like an obvious step but people frequently skip it. Even if you scanned the job description before you decided to apply, it is still a good idea to go back and read it a couple of more times to make sure you did not miss any details. Employers typically receive hundreds of applications for a position. One of the most common methods they will use to narrow the applicant pool is to eliminate anyone who they think did not read the job description or requirements.
Many employers also use something known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is an automated system that can be fine-tuned to reject applications that are missing information or do not have the right keywords. Even though you may not be able to completely predict what the ATS is looking for, you can still advance your application in the system by making sure to include the correct information.
14. Use a professional name and email address
A professional job application calls for a professional email address. Some employers might disqualify an applicant for having an unprofessional email, even if the rest of their resume shows they are perfect for the job.
If you need to create a professional email address, you may want to use a free email service to create an email account that you will use specifically for your professional life. Use your first and last name or a variant and use it for all your job applications. It is never a bad idea to separate work communication from personal communication. During your job search might be the perfect time to do so.
15. Follow the instructions
Sometimes a field calls for a full paragraph, a couple of sentences or just a “yes” or “no.” There are also fields that require you to spend some time answering in-depth questions. Regardless of what the specific questions require, make sure you are answering them correctly. Read the question a couple of times to make sure you understand and take some time to formulate a thorough answer.
There are employers who ask a variety of types of questions, including character, behavioral and hypothetical. If you want to increase your chances of success, you need to respond to these questions effectively and accurately. Not all applications will include long answer questions, but it never hurts to adhere closely to the instructions. Taking care while filling out the information demonstrates to an employer that you are a worthy candidate and invested in the hiring process.
16. Tailor your cover letter to the job
Environments like job fairs require you to repeatedly give the same documents to multiple companies. However, if you are applying for a specific job in person or online, you will want to tailor your cover letter and resume to suit the application. Before writing or editing your cover letter, look through the job description and pay attention to the kind of employee they are looking for. The job description has information that includes the required educational background, what type of personality fits the position, and the skill set they would prefer a candidate to possess.
Draw on the information in the job description and write a cover letter that frames you as the perfect candidate. Keep your sentences concise but impactful. Include as much relevant information as you can efficiently fit into a page’s worth of paragraphs. If the employer likes what they read, they will use the interview process to learn more about the goals or skills you mentioned in your cover letter.
17. Include keywords in your resume
Review the description and find words that look like they relate to traits, skills or experiences that the company is looking for. Use them tactfully throughout your resume and cover letter. There is no need to be heavy-handed with them; a few subtle references are sufficient.
Make sure to include keywords that portray you as capable of fulfilling the job requirements. For example, if the job has any technical specifications, highlight your practical skills, relevant degrees or academic courses. If the job requires you to interact regularly with customers or coworkers, mention your interpersonal and communication skills.
18. Check your responses for errors
Misspellings and grammar errors show an employer you did not care enough to take the time to proofread or that you are not proficient with written communication. Most jobs require basic communication skills, so not putting in the effort to submit a resume that is free from spelling errors, uses the correct pronouns and follows other grammar rules can hinder your chances of being hired.
Take your time when filling out the application. If you are not sure of how well you have done in terms of error correction, ask someone to look at the application for you and make corrections if they find anything wrong. An error-free application is far more likely to at least be looked at than an application that is full of easily-avoidable mistakes.
19. Track your applications when applying for multiple jobs
Remember to keep careful track of all your online job profiles, so you know where you have applied and the roles you have applied to. Keep a spreadsheet or a list of the company names and roles you have applied to, to create a quick reference.
Occasionally, you might find that you qualify for multiple roles in one company, and you may decide to apply for several. What you don’t want to do is to make a profile for every job you apply for. If the application system has a “shopping cart” for job listings you qualify for, put them into the cart for one account. Then, it will be easier to track what you have applied for in the event you get calls about multiple roles by different people. It is always a good idea to know exactly what someone is talking about when they call concerning an interview.
In the modern era, it is common for employers to look at your social media profiles. They want to know something about the person they are hiring and they feel that Facebook and other social media sites are good sources. Go over your profiles and consider removing anything objectionable. That means deleting posts or comments that might not reflect well on you or that do not represent your current maturity level. It is always a good idea to be aware of and control the image of yourself online.
It is still advisable to create a social media profile in your name and to share some personal information, even if you do not use it often. Familiarity and proficiency with social media is an important skill in the job market today and employers may check your personal accounts to judge your competency.
21. Upload your resume
It may seem counterintuitive to submit the resume after you have entered all the information it contains into fields on the application. However, the applicant tracking system typically does not collect the information you have provided into a printable document and the employer may want to have a paper copy of your resume for reference. Resumes are also easy for the hiring manager to keep on file in case they decide to contact you about a job opening at a later date.
Make sure to name your resume file concisely and efficiently. Include your first and last name and the keyword “resume” for easy searching.
22. Review before submitting
Even though you have may have already reviewed the application for errors and checked that you followed the instructions, you need a final review of your entries before hitting that submit button. Remember: once you have submitted, you cannot make any changes. Once you are satisfied that you have done your best, click the submit button and leave the rest to the hiring team.
If you want to land a position that reflects your experience, education and skillset, you need to apply widely and often. This said, it is common for all the applications to start to look the same. If you can, ask someone else to proofread your resume and cover letter for each application. A second set of eyes can make a big difference. You always increase your chances of finding employment when you focus on portraying yourself as detail-oriented and capable.
Following these tips can help you complete job applications more effectively. If you present your skills positively and accurately, relate your relevant experience well and proofread all your information, you will show yourself to be a more eligible candidate for any position. Use these tips and other Indeed resources to increase your chances of getting the job you want.