How to present a winning job application

Job applications are an essential when starting or changing careers. To get that job, your application needs to stand out from the other applicants, your competitors. In a quiet market with high unemployment rates, there will be many more competitors for an advertised job. What does it take to create a winning job application?

Follow the instructions!

Job ads usually contain clear instructions on what the hiring managers require of you. Make your best first impression by following clear instructions. So, read the job ad correctly, show that you can follow clear instructions – and you are one step closer to winning the job. Make sure you address the application to the correct person, submit it as requested in the correct manner, and send everything with the application that is required. Many job ads ask to write a response to the selection criteria. Follow these instructions and do so.  Some job ads ask to address the selection criteria in a separate document, others may ask to do so in the Cover Letter. Ensure that you will address everything in your cover letter, or in the separate document.

Meet the criteria

Many job ads are very specific that you must meet minimum criteria. If you don’t meet that criteria, don’t apply for the job. Don’t waste your time, and the hiring manager’s time. If you are in doubt, whether you are right for the position but you feel you really can do it, call the contact person to enquire or send an expression of interest first before applying, if time allows for the latter.

Write carefully

There is a perception that job applications with errors, such as typographical, grammatical or other errors, or poor formatting, show that the applicant has not taken enough time to prepare the application. It could be worse, the hiring manager could think that you don’t have the skills at all to write a document error free. It is very important when you are applying for a job that involves writing documents, reports, memos, publications and the like. A Career Reboot Consultant could proof read your CV and job application, or work with you to create a carefully written winning job application.

In the past 10 years we have come across a number of applications using mail merge or a template to apply for multiple jobs. Be sure you have the right details for each job. An application that is addressed to another company or another person or a different role than lands on my desk, goes to the ‘No Way’ pile. Make sure, that each of your application contains the correct details and is explicitly relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Be respectful and ask the right questions

If you need to contact the potential employer to answer a few questions before you apply, remember that hiring managers usually are very busy, and most likely won’t appreciate questions that can be found by some simple research on the company’s website or by searching for typical requirements of a role. After you have read the job ad, read your potential employer’s website, research any other topic the new role may require. Then write down your questions.

When you contact your potential employer, be respectful. Always ask if they have a moment to speak to you and make sure you ask those intelligent questions demonstrating you have researched the employer and the advertised position.


Just remember, your Career Consultant will be happy working with you on a winning job application, from your CV over a compelling Cover Letter addressing the Selection Criteria through to preparations for your job interview. Contact us to discuss.