Cheeky Guide: write a solid job application
Updated: Jan 28
A resume or a CV (curriculum vitae), is a document that highlights your work experience, education, skills and achievements. Research reveals we have around six seconds to attract and retain the interest of a recruiter when our CV is being viewed. You need to present recent, concise summaries that provide a snapshot of your achievements and work history. This document will define your application.
Value your volunteering
I have come across literally hundreds of applications which list volunteering and internships below and thematically separated from paid roles, why? The work we do for free should not be undervalued on your CV, it was still work and should be considered as such. On my CV I have a single column, 'work experience' which includes every role I have undertaken from pro bono legal internships to volunteer not-for-profit experiences. Value your efforts and labour and your potential employer will do the same.
2. Find a clean cut, space efficient template
A good resume is two pages. To ensure that you capture your experience and qualifications in this snapshot, an effective template must be used. This doesn't have to be synonymous with boring, though. Canva has a great range of templates for every work type and aesthetic vibe.
Three great examples, available through Canva.
Add a photo
I'm not a model, an actress or in any sort of role involving my 'look', so why should my face play any role in whether I score the job? We need to normalise setting ourselves apart through our language, our qualifications and our experience and let these traits define our application. Adding an image is a distractor and perpetuates a power imbalance, resulting in both conscious and unconscious bias in the hiring process.
2. Go over three pages
A CV should be an efficient, engaging summary of your work and education history. This document provides a snapshot with the highlights of each qualification and position that reveals to the reader the very basis of your work history and skills. In making your CV a novella, you run the risk of losing your audience and appearing self-congratulatory in going into extensive detail on everything you've done in your life, down to the second.
The Cover Letter
A cover letter is a short letter (one to two pages MAX unless otherwise stipulated) that lives with your resume when you apply for a position. It’s the first (and maybe only) chance you get to express your specific experience for the role and to hone in on WHO you are and WHY you are the candidate for the job.
Research the company
It is important to understand the role beyond the job description and digging around for specific detail on the organisation you want to become apart of is crucial to writing a solid cover letter. Find their address and ensure it is highlighted at the top of your cover letter, this helps a lot (especially when you don't have a name to address the cover letter to).
2. Write a fresh letter for each application
I am NOT saying you should start from scratch each and every time, BUT it is important to start a fresh document with each application and ensure you proofread each one before emailing it off. Each letter should have a completely new introduction and conclusion that is extremely job-specific.
hot tip: to save time, create versatile core paragraphs related to skills and experience that can be transferred between cover letters. For example, create a paragraph related to all of your marketing experience which can be copied and pasted into every applicable cover letter requiring marketing qualifications and work history.
3. Fine tune the specifics of the role
A great cover letter will weave each of the job requirements into the document, ensuring that all skills and experience are connected to the position in question. Centre your paragraphs around the core elements of the position, this emphasises that your cover letter is not generic and that you are writing with specific interest and applicable knowledge, highlighting why you are THE candidate.
To whom it may concern
Outdated and cold, starting a cover letter with this sort of introduction is unlikely to move you closer to an interview. If you can't find a contact name or relevant manager within the job description, try 'Dear hiring manager' or 'To the recruitment team'. It's a more personal greeting and (PLEASE) never do 'Dear Sir/Madam'.
2. Be flowery or tricky in your wording
A cover letter NEEDS to be concise and engaging. It complements your CV but operates as an alternative mechanism, to delve into your specific experiences that align with the role in question. It expands on a few particular aspects of your work history that allow you to pinpoint exactly why you should be proceeding to interview. It shouldn't be exaggerated, excessive or indulgent but should get to the point without being completely boring.
Although some employers LOVE adding a good buzzword (or a hundred) in their job descriptions (these are personally the jobs I avoid applying for) the general rule is, leave shitty phrases at the door. Here are the worst offenders:
- people person
- interpersonal savvy
- team player
Also avoid using excessive adjectives when describing your work ethic or results. Don't describe yourself as an 'incredible' or 'amazing' sales rep or marketing coordinator, provide specific results and references for the growth and profit you returned in past positions. Focus on examples and stimulating your reader with hard evidence and experience.