The right way to apply for a job

Ange Connor

When applying for a job, the application you submit is your first and sometimes, only chance to make a positive impression. It will determine if you’re shortlisted for the next stage of the recruitment process or if you’ll be notified that you’ve been unsuccessful. Regardless of if you have the skills and experience for the job, there are many things you can do to ensure you impress the recruiter and increase your chances of being added to the list of people the recruiter wants to interview or find out more about. Applying for a job can be nerve-wracking, but if you take the time to prepare thoroughly, it doesn’t have to be.

Here are our top tips for impressing a recruiter with the right job application etiquette:

Follow the instructions on how to apply

There are instructions on how to apply for the position for a reason. If it specifies you must submit an application letter and resume, then you need to submit both, not just a resume. If it asks for a response to the key selection criteria, you need to provide specific responses to the key selection criteria. If it says to hand deliver your application or asks you to submit your application via email, wherever possible, it’s best to follow those instructions. If you don’t follow the instructions, the recruiter is left wondering that if you can’t follow instructions on how to apply, how will you follow instructions when working in the position?

Address the Key Selection Criteria

Addressing key selection criteria can be painful; it takes a lot of time and effort and often you have to wonder if your response to the selection criteria is really a true reflection of your ability to do the job. However, if a job application specifically requests a response to key selection criteria, then you need to submit a response. If you don’t, there is really no need to bother submitting a covering letter and resume. Failure to provide a response will instantly rule out your application.

Tailor and personalise your application

I’m not a fan of the apply now function available on many online job boards where by clicking on that button you automatically send off the resume you have saved to your profile. Always, always, always submit a resume and covering letter where required, making sure to tailor it to the position. We want to see that you’re genuinely interested in the vacancy and have taken the time to tailor your application to highlight your skills and experience most relevant to the position you are applying for. Remember to customise your resume and cover letter accordingly, making sure they both reflect your qualifications while also giving an insight into who you are beyond what’s on paper.

The other thing you should always do when submitting an application is to address it to the person who is listed as the contact on the job advert or position description. If there’s no name, even just include the company name. It never ceases to amaze me how many generic applications I receive addressed to “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir/Madam” when my details are on the job advert. Often these applications don’t even list or reference the title of the position the person is applying for. Not a great way to make a first impression!

Make it easy for us to contact you

Recently, I received an application with no contact details! Yes, that’s right, no phone number or address, and the only reason I had this person’s email address was that he applied via email, not because it was listed in his resume. This happens more often than you would think. Make it easy for the recruiter to find your phone number and/or email address by having it on each document you submit or even having it in the header/footer so it appears on each page.

Submit word or pdf documents

I detest covering/application letters submitted in Notepad or anything that’s not word or pdf! They are not visually appealing; the formatting is terrible and it does not present as a professional business document that sells you. It’s often hard to read, and I think people quickly add a few lines without any thought to using that opportunity to highlight skills and experience. The time invested in writing a covering letter in word/pdf will be time well invested. I’ve seen some resumes in interesting formats over the years and sometimes I haven’t even been able to open them because I don’t have that software. My recommendation is to submit your application in word or pdf format. Make sure you have the formatting correct so your application looks visually appealing.

You don’t want to waste the recruiter’s time by them not being able to open your application, or having to download software to be able to access it. If the recruiter is time-poor and they have plenty of other applications to choose from, they may simply cross your application off the list and move on to the next one.

What’s on your job application etiquette list? We’d love to hear about what you consider important when submitting an application or as a recruiter what etiquette you look for. Feel free to leave me a comment and share your thoughts.

About The Author
Ange Connor

Ange is the Founder and Director of Inspire HQ, one of regional Victoria’s leading recruitment, human resource (HR) and careers agencies. Ange is an ‘ideas’ person and a ‘big picture’ thinker. She loves to challenge the status quo – in fact, that’s how Inspire HQ began.

Ange has supported hundreds of businesses across Ballarat and regional Victoria to attract, engage, motivate, develop and retain their greatest assets; their people. Ange’s unyielding passion and invaluable knowledge of the recruitment and HR industry ensures she delivers the best solutions for her clients.

Ange has held various board positions and regularly volunteers her time to share her industry and market knowledge. She was recently a Councillor for the Victoria and Tasmania region of the Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) of Australia and New Zealand, and she is a current Board Director of the Committee for Ballarat.

For more useful information, follow Ange on LinkedIn.

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