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How to write a compelling job application

When applying for a job, it’s crucial to make your application stand out from the crowd.  The best applications we see are those that clearly and concisely bring to light the applicant’s experience within the context of the role they are seeking.  This grabs employers’ attention and makes them want to learn more.  Here are our top tips on ensuring your job application makes a positive impact.

Things you'll need

  • Job Description
  • Person Specification
  • Application Form
  • CV
  • Positive Mental Attitude!

Start with research

Before you begin your application, it is important to do some research into the organisation and role you are applying to.  By demonstrating that you have read a little about the organisation and its context in your application, you will come across as interested and motivated as well as be better placed to tailor your application to the job.

Always take the opportunity to talk to a recruitment consultant or line manager if possible. They will bring the job to life and help you focus your application to the most important criteria. They will also remember you.


Tailor, tailor, tailor!

Prudent tailoring of your CV, application and supporting statement to the job at hand goes miles in highlighting your engagement and relevance to a potential employer.  Generic application materials stick out like a sore thumb and don’t impress.  Open your CV with a ‘personal profile’ highlighting skills you bring relevant to the job you are seeking, and give examples throughout your application that firmly showcase your strengths, skills and successes within the context of the role you are pursuing.  If you pitch your experience to look both impressive and highly relevant, an employer will start to imagine you in the role.


Keep it concise

It’s critical to present your application material in an articulate but concise way.  You may have a lot to offer but if your most pertinent experience gets lost amidst 15 pages of you waxing lyrical about why you want the role, or everything you have done professionally under the sun, you put yourself at a major disadvantage.

At this stage, employers have limited time to sift through numerous applications so clear, concise, topical answers are essential to making your relevance easy to digest.


Tell your story

This is all about providing context.  Briefly, why do you want this job?  Is it a step up, or a parallel move?  How does it fit / enhance / compliment your career path to date?  Particularly when seeking a lateral move across fields or role types, explain why your experience is transferable.   Employers don’t know your background so give them a better idea of where you are coming from.  This will provide a clearer picture of your motivation for the job, and can also show that you have done your research on the company / role.  Telling your story is key, but it should be done succinctly, and then backed up by facts when you address the person specification.


Address the 'person specification'

Whether applying via an application form or by CV and covering letter, the heart an application lies in your Supporting Statement where you directly address the criteria needed to do the job as laid out by the employer.  Person specifications list the technical abilities and competencies an employer is seeking for a role.  It’s best to overtly discuss your experience within the context of the person specification in your Supporting Statement.  For example, if an employer numbers the various criteria of the person specification, use corresponding numbers to show how you fit the bill for each element of the list.  This will leave the employer in no doubt what you bring to the table in the areas they have designated as key for the role.


Give your pledge

At the end of your Supporting Statement, hit home what you will bring to this role if appointed.   This is your opportunity to tie your experience and understanding of the job into a vision for the role.    There is no need to say a lot here - you won’t be an expert on the job – but show the employer that you are forward thinking, have drive and are already picturing yourself in the position.  Then they may start to as well.


Re-read and edit

Before you send off any job application, step away from it, clear your head, and then check it over later with fresh eyes.  If appropriate, have someone independent read it over as well. 

Application presentation is very important; some employers won’t give you a further glance if your application is presented poorly.  Have you followed all instructions and included all information required? Have you checked for spelling / grammatical errors?  Does the application flow and convey your experience clearly, concisely but in a dynamic manner that will earn you an interview?  If so you have achieved a compelling job application.  Good luck!

Further information




Page last edited Sep 13, 2019 History

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