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Writing an Outstanding Job Application

February 27, 2019 by Emma Lovegrove

Writing an Outstanding Job Application

It’s that time of year again! Graduate and vacation work programs are open, which means you could be spending a lot of time working on your resume and other job application documents.

But, are you tired of spending hours working on job applications only to never hear back? Do you wonder what it is that hiring managers and graduate recruiters are actually looking for?

It’s disheartening to think that a graduate recruiter or hiring manager may only spend 30 seconds looking at your resume, but that’s the reality in many cases.

Two of the skills that recruiters are commonly looking for include excellent communication skills and attention to detail. Job application documents are the perfect opportunity for you to showcase these skills and differentiate yourself from hundreds of other applicants.

First impressions really do count! Here’s our ten tips for avoiding common pitfalls when writing job applications:

  1. Use professional and polite language
    Be careful not to slip into text talk or informal language such as ‘loads’ or ‘a lot’. Contractions such as ‘you’re’ instead of ‘you are’ should also be avoided.
  2. Check your resume for spelling mistakes
    Take particular care with names and places as they may not be picked up by your computer’s spell-checker.
  3. Use capital letters correctly
    Capital letters are not usually required in the middle of a sentence unless it’s the name of a person, organisation or using the subject pronoun ‘I’.  For example, ‘When i was employed’ should be ‘When I was employed.’
  4. Take care with your apostrophes
    In particular, be careful with contractions, plurals and possessives. For example: ‘its’ signifies ownership and ‘it’s’ is short for it is; and “The student’s performance was excellent” (one student) or “The students’ performance was impressive” (more than one student).
  5. Double-check ‘There/Their/They’re’
    It is very easy to accidentally use ‘their’ instead of ‘there’, and it won’t be picked up by your spell-checker. ‘There’ signifies a time, place or incident; ‘their’ means it belongs to them; and ‘they’re’ is short for they are.
  6. Don’t trip up on affect and effect!
    Affect is usually a verb and means to impact or change. Effect is usually a noun and the result of a change. For example, “Gaining employment affected Tom’s performance at university” and “Tom’s new job had an effect on his overall confidence and communication skills”.
    There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule! Effect can also be used as a verb meaning to bring about. Affect can be used as a noun meaning feeling, emotion or specific emotional response.
  7. Short, succinct, plain English
    Write what you want to say, cut your word count and then cut it again. Short and succinct has more impact that lengthy and complicated.
  8. Use verbs to showcase what you have achieved
    Verbs are action words. Put verbs near the beginning of the sentence and make them active. For example “Our committee hosted a student event” (active) is more powerful than “An event was hosted by our committee” (passive).
  9. Don’t rush your application
    Proofread! Ask someone else to read your application and give you feedback. Read your resume and cover letter out loud to check that they make sense.
  10. Don’t forget to tailor your application to each job
    Be creative. Demonstrate in your resume and cover letter that you have read up on the organisation and have a genuine interest in what they do. Highlight your relevant skills to demonstrate that you have what it takes to actually do the  job.

Curtin students can find a range of helpful resources and our online review service on UniHub. And don’t forget, you can drop into B102 Curtin Connect to speak with a Careers Officers about their job applications. We’re open from 8.45am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Going to the Curtin Careers Fair 2019 on Wednesday 13 March? Bring a hard copy of your job application documents with you and you can get it checked on the spot by one of our team!

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