Once you’ve identified a potential employer or position that appeals, focus on crafting an application that highlights your skills and experiences, and ultimately markets you as a legitimate candidate for the job.
Job applications are crucial in the selection process of all organisations, as they allow comparisons to be made between candidates. Whether applying for volunteer, vacation or graduate positions, the quality of your job application is critical.
An application is usually the first point of contact between you and the potential employer, so it’s essential you get it right – it’s a strategic marketing tool that, if of a high standard, will maximise your chance of being selected for an interview.
A job application usually consists of a combination of:
- cover letter
- reference list
- statement addressing the key selection criteria outlined in the job description
- some organisations also require you to complete an application form.
Treat each application individually; it should be professional in both presentation and tone, and personalised to the specific role. Countless candidates have quickly eliminated themselves for simple mistakes such as poor grammar, addressing letters to the wrong company, or spelling names incorrectly. Be alert. Employers use many means to trim the applicant pool.
Online applications are now the status quo. You can often upload your cover letter, résumé and other documents. Some online forms allow applicants to go back to previous fields and change information throughout the process, but many online applications must be completed in one sitting – you may not have the option to save and return to it later. Be prepared with all your documentation and ensure you have plenty of time to complete and check the application. If possible, print a hard copy of the form and write a draft before completing the final copy online.
A successful job application begins with your cover letter. This should be a formal letter to an individual or company that briefly introduces you and emphasises the key skills relevant to the position that are listed in the advertisement. Your letter should briefly demonstrate how you gained these skills through your various work, study and voluntary experiences.
Cover letters should:
- be written individually for each application
- be no longer than one page
- use a formal business letter format
- provide your address and contact details followed by the employer’s details
- use an appropriate salutation (e.g. Dear Mr Smith).