How to Write a Job Application + Handy Job Application Essentials Checklist
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The harsh reality is, there is no easy way to respond to a job advertisement.
A sneaky cut-and-paste approach won’t slip by a job recruiter – trust me. Hiring Managers have been at it a very long time, and a cover letter that addresses them by ‘To Whom It May Concern’ is definitely not going to cut it.
By simply swapping out the company name in a standard cover letter template, you lack the details that your recruiter is searching for within your application.
In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step breakdown of what your application process should look like, as well as the do’s and dont’s and even an Application Checklist.
Table of Contents
A List of 5 Essential Job Advertisement Elements: Analysis and Break Down
Although the process is nerve-racking, it’s really quite simple when you take a step back. A job advertisement will generally provide you with all of the steps you’ll need to fulfil that initial screening stage.
Okay, first up – have your highlighter (or the Notes app on your iPhone) at the ready.
A job advertisement will usually be comprised of five elements:
1. The Job Title or Purpose
Straight forward enough – this is the position you will be applying for.
If you aren’t familiar with the specifics of that role, do your research before jumping into the application section.
2. Main Responsibilities or ‘Job Requirements’ for the Role
Again, another straight forward one – these are the key tasks that you will be in charge of if you were to be successful in obtaining the advertised role.
Pinpoint how you can draw correlations between your own experiences and these specific responsibilities. Ask yourself, ‘What in my previous roles have I done that could reflect these main responsibilities?’
3. The Technical or ‘Hard Skills’ Required
Knowledge-based, or ‘hard’ skills are education-based and are gained through experience. They are generally a mandatory skill that supports the primary skill set for the particular role that is usually covered in the ‘Selection Criteria’ (don’t worry, we’ll cover this in more depth later on).
4. The Personal or ‘Soft Skills’ Required
Soft skills are interpersonal and personality traits. Although they prove harder for employers to measure, they are equally as valuable to a workplace than hard skills, and can be the deciding factor on a potential candidate within a competitive job market. These are also found within the ‘Selection Criteria’ of a job advertisement.
5. Application Requirements and How to Get in Touch to Apply
Despite how simple a standard application submission may appear, don’t be fooled. Particularly when applying through job listing platforms, the job advertisement may request that the application is sent through to their business email, rather than submitting a direct via the job platform itself. Also, additional materials may be requested of you that aren’t just your standard resume and cover letter.
By really dissecting the job advertisement, you’ll grasp a better understanding of what the role actually entails, instead of making assumptions about what the recruiter is looking for. I’ve even found that in some job listings, hiring managers like to weave in an unusual application request, such as naming your attached resume pdf something like ‘Purple Dragon’, to really weed out those who haven’t taken the time to thoroughly read the ad. It’s about your attention-to-detail in this first step.
Corporate job openings attract
Out of these
will be interviewed
will get a job offer
What is Selection Criteria?
The Selection Criteria element of a job ad is essentially a list of necessary skills, knowledge, experience and/or qualifications to the position. It is imperative to always answer selection criteria when responding to a job advertisement.
This fundamental part of the application process demonstrates to your potential employer whether you have the necessary skills to effectively fulfil the job requirements.
How to Answer Selection Criteria
Most hiring managers don’t request that the selection criteria is to be answered within a separate document – as long as you mention them within your cover letter with some examples to back your claims, that is usually enough. However, some recruiters request that your response to that section of the advertisement is submitted as a third document to accompany your resume and cover letter.
If this is the case for you, below is a step-by-step process on addressing selection criteria.
For those of you who only need to explore this part of the application within your cover letter, don’t go too far – the tips below can also help you to write your response also, just on a smaller scale.
Step One: Identify and Understand the Selection Criteria
Read the job description thoroughly to identify the key selection criteria. If we take the selection criteria ‘problem-solving skills’ for example, the associated criterion details could be:
Well developed interpersonal skills. This includes the ability to:
If we break this down a little more, we can identify that the preferred sub-skills that encompass interpersonal skills within this job listing are:
Step Two: Create an Opening Statement
Once you’ve identified and analysed your selection criteria, the next step is writing a response.
To begin, state how you meet the criterion’s requirements in one succinct sentence, ensuring that you have covered the key points found in Step One. Keep it to-the-point, as further details and other related information will be explored in the next step.
I possess strong interpersonal skills that I acquired throughout the duration of my career as a Manager.
Step Three: Consider Some Examples to Support Each Selection Criterion
This step is a bit of a brainstorm – identify some relevant professional experiences that you believe validate your skills and knowledge.
They must reflect the requirements of the role that you are applying for, so consider just how related these experiences are before going into more detail.
Step Four: Support Your Claims
Here’s your chance to show just how much your experiences and knowledge align with your potential role. Using the STAR Method technique, explore ‘how’ the base points you identified in Step Three demonstrate your suitability to the position.
Establish the foundation of your answer by expressing where you showed the skills that contributed to your knowledge.
What part did you play in this circumstance and
what was expected of you?
What was your response to the situation?
What measures did you take?
How does the result of this incident directly link to the role that you are applying for?
Covering Your Cover Letter
The main purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself and your skill set to the hiring manager.
A cover letter format follows a simple structure and should generally remain a one page document. Here are some structural tips on how to write a cover letter:
A resume’s intention is not to communicate your life story to your hiring manager – your cover letter is the resource that goes into more detail about your professional career and achievements.
Your resume should be a brief, one-page document that states your education, skills and experience.
Below are some essential resume writing tips, to ensure that your resume is relevant and prompts the reader to find out more about you:
Ditch the objective
There’s no need to reiterate why you’re applying for the position – I would say both you and your potential employer both know that you’re keen as you’ve completed the application process
Keep it succint
There’s no need to include that you were school captain in Grade 6 – steer clear of clutter by only choosing to include information that is relevant to the kind of positions you are applying for
Steer clear of distracting elements
I know that your 13-year-old self is reaching for that god-awful Bauhaus 93 font that you insisted on using for all of your Year 7 poster projects, but trust me, Times New Roman or Arial are the way to go! Stick to an 11-sized font, with enough spacing to ensure the page isn’t cluttered with text.
Ensure you've met your recruiter's submission conditions
This is mainly referring to your resume format – I would say to stick to a .PDF format as a rule of thumb, as this prevents the shifting of text and other resume elements that can sometimes occur if you’ve left your file as a Word Doc and the hiring manager is using a different version of the program. However if a different format is requested, make sure that you’ve met that requirement.
Answering a Job Advertisement – Checklist
Once you’ve completed your application, check off each of the below steps to ensure you’ve covered all of the essential elements:
And that should have you set for success! Good luck, I’ll have my fingers crossed for you.
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