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7 tips to writing a successful job application

Job Application

So, you’re coming towards the end of your degree, and it’s about time to start applying for jobs and internship positions. Your anxiety is creeping up, and you aren’t sure where or how to start that job application you’ve been avoiding for the past few weeks. With such a competitive job market today, getting your application noticed can be extremely difficult.

Fear not, at Capital Placement; we have all experienced the same feelings. As a result, we want to share with you some of the key things that the employers we work with recommend including in an application, as well as some of our top tips for writing a successful job application to help you secure your dream role.

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;

    1. 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”
    2. 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.”
    3. 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.”
    4. 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.
    5. 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.

    Final Thoughts

    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!

    Don’t forget to share this post!

    Julia Hurtado

    Julia Hurtado

    Having spent an entire summer dedicated to travelling abroad, Julia now focuses on helping other students experience life outside their home country. As an American now working in London, Julia enjoys sharing advice on interning abroad, sipping tea (with 2 sugars, 1 milk please) and reading in her spare time.

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