Better Job Applications – Introduction


1 Probably most Personnel Selectors have a love-hate relationship with Applicants. They want plenty of high-quality Applicants for the jobs they seek to fill ­thus they welcome Applications. However they also find themselves annoyed with the Applications that many Applicants send.

2 These different notes aim to help people write better Applications.

3 The following different notes identifies some common errors found in application letters. The quotations come from actual letters.

Some Related Notes

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Better Job Applications – Some Recommendations about Spare-Time Actvities

S: Relevancy of spare-time activities to the position  under consideration

1 Provide information which points out the relevance  of spare-time activities to the position under consideration.

Spare-Time Activities and Service Organisations

2 Example. One Applicant wrote: “I joined the XYZ Lions Club where I was an active member for some five years until business commitments forced my resignation.”

3 If he was an ‘active member’,  just what did he do? Unless Selectors know something about the particular Organisation, they will not know very much about what an ‘active member’ does. What does this type of information tell Selectors about the Applicant? What does it mean in relation to the position under  consideration?

Sporting Interests

4 Example. One Applicant wrote: “I have captained table tennis teams to “A” Reserve standard premierships.” He does not say how long ago it occurred, nor for what period of time.

5 Does this experience increase the probability that the Applicant will do one or more jobs well. If so and the Selector knows little about what a Captain of a Table Tennis Team does, The Applicant should help the Selector draw an accurate conclusion.

Some Related Notes

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Better Job Appllcations – How to use these Notes

A Quick Way to obtain  the ideas in this group of Notes

1 Readers who want to obtain a quick summary (recommendations) of the ideas in these notes should just read the opening paragraphs in italics at the beginning of each part.

2 Readers who want a further explanation for any Recommendation should read the section headed “Reasons”.

3 Further explanations exist in the section headed “Examples”.

4 Where a Reader seeks an answer to a specific point  they should refer to the Contents Page. It lists the general topics discussed as well as each Recommendation.

Part 1

5 Part I includes the topics  classified as important. If Applicants make a  significant error in this section probably it will it have a significant effect on whether Selectors will evaluate them accurately with respect to selecting them for an initial interview.

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Better Job Applications – Part 1 – Major Recommendations – The Overall Approach to preparing Applications

A – The Objective of the Application

1 Appreciate that application letters should aim to ­obtain an initial


2 No Applicant can obtain a position without having an interview.* Thus an important early objective for Applicants becomes – Obtain an Interview.

3 Some try to do so by ringing and talking their way into an interview over the phone. Some drop into the Advertiser’s office and hope to persuade the Selector to see them.

4 If a Selector/Consultant   charge their Clients on a rate-per-hour basis, they rarely ( if ever) accept such approaches.

5 Thus most Applicants must “apply by letter” if they want to obtain an interview. Continue reading

Better Job Applications – What to put into Applications

C – Information to include in a General Application


1 It proves difficult to define everything that Applicants should include and exclude in an Application. The decision should rest on the relevance of the information to the position under consideration.

2 The following list describes what one Consultant would like included in a general Application sent to them. We believe many other Selectors would welcome such information. We doubt if Applicants would reduce their chances of obtaining an initial interview with any worthwhile Selector by including this information‑

3 Include the following information in an application.

Personal Details

4 Full Name, Address, Age, Date of Birth, Marital Status, Number and Age of all Children, Phone Numbers (Business and Private).

Education and Training

5 Details of Secondary and Tertiary Studies, including dates and any special awards received. Details of trade and specific skills. Training undertaken, including start and end dates and duration.

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Better Job Applications – Some Recommendations about Job Experience

F – .Activities of organisations in which worked

1 Describe the activities of the organisations for whom  worked.


2 Sometimes Selectors seek Applicants with experience in particular industries and/or types of activities (e.g. Manufacturing, Retailing). However Selectors do not know all about what all Organisations do. Thus Applicants should supply such information.


3 One Applicant gave the name of the Companies he had worked for and some of his duties, but did not describe what the Companies did. Thus the Selector could not relate the duties to an industry or a particular activity of a Company.

4 Another Applicant described his Employer’s work as “Distribution”. However the Application did not state what the Organisation distributed.

5 The Applicant gave the name of the Company for which  he worked but nothing about which products or in which Industry it operated. The Selectors involved had not heard of the Company.

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Better Job Applications – Some Recommendations about Education

E – Relevant Education Information

1 Ensure the application includes level reached and/or  qualifications gained – not just educational organisations  attended.

2 Ensure the application gives details of length and date of relevant courses.


3 Selectors have much more interest in the content and level of courses done as compared with who gave the course (although the latter may mean something about the level of a course). Further, the length of a course has relevance to its level and likely content – as well as the date done.


4 One applicant stated that he went to a particular school but gave no indication of the level reached. He then listed a College of Advanced Education and next a particular Institute.

5 This information did not show the qualifications gained (if any) from any of the Institutes listed.

6 Another Applicant wrote: “Melbourne University (Part-Time) Computer Application in Business”.

7 This Applicant gave no details of length and when done. A one-day course done in 1988 probably has little relevance to an Application. A one-year course – two evenings per week for three hours per evening and done last year has a lot more relevance.

Some Related Notes

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Better Job Applications – Some Recommendations about the Sequence of Application Content

T -  Sequence of Material

1 Consider the order in which you should present your information.

2 Give personal details at the start of an application. 


3 Probably Selectors expect to find personal details at the start of an. application. They provide basic screening information for some positions (e.g. age, location of dwelling). Further they take up relatively little space.

4 Give information on education or job experience as the next item. Reason

5 Applicants vary the sequence that they choose. Many insert Education and then follow it by Job Experience. Others reverse that order.

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Better Job Applications – Some General Recommendations

U -  The Use of Humour and unusual Approaches

1 Avoid the use of humour and unusual content approaches ­where your application shows that you have most of the  qualifications and experience mentioned as requirements in  the advertisement.


2 Sometimes an unusual or humourous approach will lift an Application “out of the ruck”. Selectors can remember the person more easily. Possibly it adds some favourable aspect to the application situation.

3 However what one Selector may find unusual and/or humourous another may reject as unsuitable. Thus anyone taking such an approach runs a risk.

4 If an Applicant already has most of the requirements listed in the advertisement they have little need to take such a risk. The facts should speak for themselves and they should obtain an

5 If they rate themselves as having a low chance of gaining an interview they may decide to take the risk of adding something to increase their chances. However they should realise that they run the risk of adding an unfavourable item to the things Selectors consider.

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Better Job Applications – Part 2 – Minor Recommendations

Some specific Points on Content

A – The non-inclusion of Age

1 Applkcants should consider the advanatages and disadvantagesa of including age and date of birth

2  This decision will depend on the actual age of the Applicant and whether the Applicant believes it may make it difficult to obtain an


3 Some people do not include their age or date of birth in their applications.

4 Occasionally it appears to occur as an oversight. However, probably, older Applicants sometimes deliberately exclude their age. They do so when they believe it will reduce their chance of obtaining an interview

5 Some Applicants believe that an intervew will show a Selector that they rate  rate as “young for their age”. Then the Selectors may put more weight on  other favourable aspects.

6 Applicants who fall within the “older age” bracket should try different approaches with different Selectors and establish which approach. produces the best results.

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