5 Essential Tips for Writing Job Applications

writing job applications

5 Essential Tips for Writing Job Applications

Writing job applications can be tough! It is hard to talk about yourself, describing your knowledge and experience, how it aligns to the role and thinking of all the ways you could answer THAT question, ‘Why should we hire you?’

You essentially need to create a persuasion piece that includes everything they need to know about you and do so within 6 seconds. According to a study released by TheLadders, this is the average time recruiters spend reviewing an individual resume.

But if you can make it past the 6 second point, there are many other parts of writing job applications that will help you make it to the interview stage.

  1. The Job Ad
  2. Review the Key Selection Criteria
  3. Be Reference Ready
  4. First Person Language
  5. Qualifications

1. The Job Ad

Make sure that you have read the job ad in full. Print it out if you need to and highlight key points in the ad. Specifically make sure you are fully aware of any instructions that are outlined in the ad. Hiring Managers will place very specific instructions inside job adverts to see who can follow instructions. They use this tactic to quickly reduce the number of applications they have to review. This may not be obvious to you immediately, that’s why it is important to analyse the ad in detail.

The below job advertisement asks you to upload your resume and covering letter in a single document. While this may not seem important, it is!

writing job applications

2. Review the Key Selection Criteria

Government jobs are famous for in-depth selection criteria but most job roles will have selection criteria that may not be outlined as such. It is really important that you focus on the key selection criteria in your application, ensuring you provide information about your skills and experience for each of the points. The information should be practical, you should be outlining examples where you have demonstrated outcomes mentioned in the criteria. You can’t just say that you hold those things or that you have done them, you have to demonstrate.

Copy and paste the key selection criteria from the job advertisement into a separate word document and write a short statement around 60 to 120 words for each.

A good way to tackle selection criteria is by using the SAO approach.

  • Situation— where and when you did something
  • Action— what you did and how you did it
  • Outcome— what was the result of your actions

3. Make sure your references are ready!

One of the biggest mistakes you can make writing job applications is submitting old referee details or not informing your referees that you are using them! The worst thing that can happen is that you get through to the referee review stage and the Hiring Manager makes a call and the person doesn’t remember you or anything that you did! You want the people on your resume to further your application, not hinder it.

Review your references now and give them a call to make sure they are still ok to be your raving fan!

4. Use first person language

When writing your resume, covering letter and in your selection criteria responses; make sure that you are writing in the first person.

First person language is: I, me, we, my, mine and us

Why? Because the application is focused on you, your achievements and why you would best fit the role. You want the Hiring Manager to imagine YOU in the role, not a third person you seem to be writing about. First person language is personal and you are able to link yourself to everything within the application. Don’t forget to find out who you should be addressing your application to! Avoid using, ‘To whom it may concern!’.

5. Qualifications

Make sure that you hold the appropriate qualifications for the job. If you know you have the skills but don’t have the qualification that you can add to your resume, consider Recognition of Prior Learning. If you don’t have much time before your application is due, RPL can be very quick and easy if you have all of the evidence available. Asset College can turn RPL applications around within 2 weeks if you have everything we need.

Start with a Free Skills Assessment today and our assessor will get back to you within 24 hours with your eligibility for the qualification you have applied for!

Best of luck on your job search!