When applying for a job, the applicant’s aim should always be to present a perfect job application. What this means is that the application should get the immediate attention of a prospective employer by reflecting the applicant’s credentials, skills, and experience; it should put the applicant ahead of other candidates applying for the same job. There are, essentially, three parts to compiling the perfect job application.
Deliver What the Prospective Employer Wants
Before going any further, a job seeker must know whether a prospective employer wants a Curriculum Vitae (C.V.) or a résumé.
In a C.V., the applicant will provide a complete list of data about himself. The C.V. is more commonly used in the United Kingdom and for seeking positions in educational institutions. A standard C.V. might contain some of the following information:
- A personal profile – this is factual information such as the applicant’s name, address, telephone number and email. Today, because of anti-discrimination laws, employers are reluctant to ask for a person’s gender; nevertheless, when an applicant gives this information willingly, prospective employers appreciate it.
- A reverse chronological list of the applicant’s work experience – an applicant should account for his entire career history. This means describing his contribution towards the concept and planning of projects he undertook. It also includes the roles he played and what he achieved in previous jobs.
- A reverse chronological list of his education and training – include all academic qualifications, professional licenses, certification and memberships; in addition, list down any awards, bursaries or scholarships the applicant may have received.
- A reverse chronological list of any relevant material the applicant may have published.
- A list of hobbies and interests – through optional, include only ones that are relevant. For example, when applying for a job as a translator, the fact that the applicant liked to travel to practice his language skills will be relevant. The fact that he likes to knit, however, won’t be of interest.
A résumé is more commonly used in the United States and Canada. A résumé has a “free-from organized style used for seeking employment in the private sector.” What this means is that an applicant may begin with a statement about a personal goal; this will be followed by a list of his most significant accomplishments. A résumé tends to be targeted for a specific prospective employer and it may not represent an applicant’s complete history. Naturally, a résumé tends to be much shorter in length than a C.V.
An easy way to ensure that an applicant is on the right track when preparing a résumé, is to ask the following question: “Would my prospective employer be looking for this kind of qualification or skill?” The applicant’s answer should show a prospective employer that the applicant’s qualifications, skills, and background information make him the best person for the job.
Whether or not a job seeker is preparing a C.V. or résumé, there is one universal truth: he must be honest. Do not create false credentials or skills that cannot be backed up when asked to do so.
Nowadays, it is now quite common for prospective employers to accept applications for jobs electronically. Though the basic points highlighted above remain, the applicant may need to modify a few details of his job application when applying via the internet. For instance, a prospective employer may insist that the applicant submit his form in a specific file format such as Microsoft Word, PDF or even HTML. Take note that when using the latter two formats, the applicant’s contact details may be made available to a lot of people. As such, the email address the applicant provides may expose him to the threat of receiving spam.
Compiling the Portfolio
This includes presenting samples of previous work to a prospective employer. It is especially important in jobs which require “creative input” such as writing, computer programming, fashion and design. These samples allow a prospective employer to analyze and determine whether the applicant’s skills and talents are what he or she is looking for. Keep the following tips in mind when preparing a portfolio:
- Submit best or favorite samples of work.
- If applying for a job in a rival company, the applicant may be prohibited from including work that he has done for the present company. In such a situation, the applicant should create something new that he would like to expand on in the new place of employment.
- Do not submit irrelevant samples such as copies of poems composed when seeking a job in a fashion house.
Prepare a Proper Cover Letter
A cover letter is never longer than a single page. It is an introduction to who the applicant is, why he is applying for the job and why he thinks he’s the best person for the job. Here are a few tips to make covering letter effective:
- Use formal, white paper.
- Use a normal font such as Times New Roman (size 12) or Arial (size 10).
- Highlight the most relevant qualification or experience for this job and invite the prospective employer to look at the applicant’s C.V. or résumé.
- Be direct, precise and concise.
If all of the above have been done, the applicant will know that he has done his very best to apply for the job. At the very least, when the applicant receives that telephone call offering him the job or calling him for an interview, he will have that inner confidence knowing that he has compiled a perfect job application. With a little bit of luck, the job he seeks will be his.