The message above arrived last week from one of my working mum clients, Anne. I get them a bit and they’re one of the highlights of my job as a career coach – I love the feeling I get when I’ve helped someone to achieve a result.
I had worked with Anne in the past to plan a career direction so it was natural for her to reach out to me for some job application support when she identified a role that she really wanted. We worked together to ensure that Anne’s application stood out and that it did.
So why did Anne’s application impress the interview panel so much? Put simply, it clearly communicated to them that she possessed the skills, attributes and results to perform the role they were recruiting. The objective of any job application you write is to create the strongest possible link between you and the target role and this should guide all of your content.
If you’d like your next application to rise to the top of the pile too, here’s a few valuable tips:
- Review the job information (eg. job advertisement, role description, and/or any discussions you have with the hiring company) and draw out all of their key requirements, eg. they may ask for an Information Technology degree, excellent communication skills, project management experience and strong customer service skills and you should demonstrate with specific examples how you meet each of these requirements in your application.
- Include only what is relevant. The more you include that does not support the link between you and the role, the blurrier the link will become. For example, you wouldn’t usually include your responsible service of alcohol certification if you are applying for a role as an Accounts Clerk, except, in the very unlikely event that it’s in a wine bar and you may be required to help at the bar when others are on a break.
- Ensure all parts of your application address their requirements – some recruiters won’t read your cover letter whilst others won’t read your resume unless you’ve hooked them with the cover letter so you need to cover both bases.
- Use their words. The job criteria can be thought of as the keywords for a role. It is critically important to include these because they connect you to the role in the reader’s mind. Additionally, some companies use software, called applicant tracking systems, that search for these keywords and if they don’t appear enough, your application will not progress in the recruitment process.
- Focus on results. Including your achievements, or results, differentiates you from other candidates because they back up what you’re saying and companies love results! When all applicants list duties it is very difficult to tell them apart because the roles have often been very similar. Results should generally be one sentence long and start with a past tense action word.
- Less is more. Recruiters generally have less than one minute to read your application so create the link quickly, keep it to three pages or less with a 2 – 2.5 cm margin and use good spacing between paragraphs so it’s easy on the eye.
Give these strategies a go when writing your next application and let me know how you go. If you’d like more information, you can contact me on 0419 120 601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.