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Tips For Creating a Killer Job Application

Updated on June 3, 2010

When it comes to finding a job, it pays to be one step ahead of your competition. Given the amount of people who are potentially applying for the same position, being able to create the perfect job application can offer you a big advantage. At the very least, it should increase your chances of being called for an interview, which you can use as an additional opportunity to impress.

How to Present a Job Application

Both the resume and cover letter need to set out in a manner that is easy to follow. If this is not the case, they are likely to be rejected without further consultation. Given the amount of prospective candidates that apply for most vacancies, employers are looking for easy ways to whittle down the number of applicants. Presentation is often dismissed as being insignificant, but a poorly presented resume and cover letter can severely dent the chances of being selected for an interview.

Contact information should be prominently displayed in the header of your resume and cover letter so that prospective employers can easily get in touch . If they have to spend time scanning for contact details, it is likely that they will simply toss the application aside in favor of another candidate.

Many people include a personal statement underneath this. If this is included, use it to draw attention to any favorable skills that you possess that do not easily fit into any other section of the resume, such as excellent written and oral communication skills (if these have not specifically been used these in past or current job roles). Prominent resume sections should focus on educational history, past jobs and any relevant skills that are important enough to highlight but don't fit elsewhere. In terms of style, it is generally considered acceptable to bullet point the qualifications, previous jobs and skills sections to make them easier to follow, but this is not a requirement.

What to Include in a Job Application

This is probably the most important aspect of creating the perfect job application. While poorly presented resumes and cover letters will do little to impress prospective employers, it is their content that is of most interest. As you might expect, your writing style is a key part of this for your cover letter but it is often of less importance for resumes, as they tend to follow certain content patterns. While template-based cover letters are frequently dismissed as too impersonal, most resumes include the same broad sections.

Contrary to popular opinion, the educational history section does not need to include details and grades of every qualification. For graduates, it will usually be acceptable to only display the result of this qualification, along with the name(s) of the high school(s) and college(s) that were attended. Employers are not always primarily interested in qualifications, and listing every single one can make a resume too long. This is one of the resume red flags that you should look to avoid.

For the employment history section, it is a good idea to list every previous job that is relevant. If none of them are relevant, list them anyway. If there are gaps (for example, if a gap year or maternity leave resulted in a period of being out of work), it's not always necessary to state why this was, but be prepared to be quizzed about it if called for an interview.

In the skills section, it is common to list any computer skills, along with any foreign languages skills. Do not be tempted to lie or exaggerate to make this section look more impressive - prospective employers have been known to conduct spot tests to catch applicants out!

How to Make a Job Application Stand Out

For multiple job applications, it is tempting to create a general template that can be tweaked slightly. Although this does save time and effort, it is unlikely to impress. A  good cover letter should be specifically targeted at the individual company in question. This means researching the company's background, studying the job profile, and using this information to structure a cover letter around it. If this is done effectively, it creates a far more personal cover letter than the generic "boilerplate" cover letters that are used by many job candidates.


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    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for so much help.