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When you identify a potential employer or position that appeals to you, focus on crafting an application that highlights your skills and experiences, and markets you as a legitimate candidate for the job.
Your application is usually the first point of contact between you and your potential employer, so it’s essential you get it right.
The application process
Make sure you read the application instructions carefully. This is your first test. Employers will not be impressed if you submit an incomplete or generic application. Your application must be targeted to the organisation and position you are applying for.
A job application may consist of the following:
- Cover letter
- Statement addressing selection criteria
- A copy of your Academic Transcript
- Application form
Many organisations will require an online application. You may be required to upload your documents (for example: cover letter, resume, qualifications) and also complete one or more online forms.
The trick here is to be prepared before you begin, as some online applications are required to be completed in one sitting, whilst others allow you to save your application and return to it at a later date.
Preparing your cover letter
Your cover letter is often your first chance to make a good impression. It should be positive and sell your suitability for the position.
The letter must be individually tailored to the particular position and employer, so be sure to address all of the skills and/or abilities the employer is looking for.
Your cover letter should be:
- 1 page in length (unless specified by the employer)
- Left justification – all addresses should be aligned to the left of your page
- Free from commas or full stops within the addresses or opening address
- If possible, address your letter to a specific person. Never use "To whom it may concern"
- All paragraphs should start flush with the left-hand side margin, rather then being indented
In closing your cover letter:
- End on a positive note
- Sign off with Yours sincerely
Preparing your resume
Your resume is your opportunity to demonstrate to a potential employer that you possess the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities for the position.
Your presentation, format and information should be well thought out and tailored to each employer.
It is recommended that your resume is also accompanied by a cover letter that is also tailored to the specific employer.
|What to do||What not to do|
Tailor your resume to the job description and the employer and maintain an achievement focus
Use jargon and slang
Be clear, concise and truthful and keep it to no more than four pages in length (or follow the employer's instructions)
Present a resume that contains spelling or grammatical errors
Use positive action words to highlight your strengths
Include a photo of yourself
Use a simple layout, with consistent font style and bullet points
Add a border or use fancy fonts
Use bullet points to list your employment history, responsibilities and achievements
Write long, confusing paragraphs
The completion of a written task is often a key component in the job application process. Employers will ask you to provide written evidence to prove that you possess the qualifications, skills, knowledge, experience and attributes to successfully perform the job and fit within the organisation. Application requirements may include one of the following written tasks:
- Selection criteria
- Short response or statement
- Supporting statement or extended cover letter
The following government websites provide information on how to handle written tasks:
- Be sure to request permission of your referees before you nominate them in your job application.
- Keep your referees informed – they need to know what you are applying for so that they are prepared when an employer contacts them to find out more about you.
- Your current/most recent Supervisor/Manager is preferred. Academic staff may also be suitable. Avoid personal referees.
- If possible, use Australian referees for an Australian based job.
- If using an overseas referee we recommend email contact only.
- Check the job advertisement to see how many referees are required.
How we can help you
- Get some feedback on your cover or resume at the Careers Drop-In Sessions. Please bring a printed copy of your documents with you.
- Make an appointment with Careers and Employability to seek feedback on your selection criteria. Please have a draft prepared before you attend your appointment. The purpose of the appointment is to provide feedback not to have your response written for you.
- Develop your written application skills with the Career Development Program Graduate Careers stream.
- Visit our Resources section for examples resumes, cover letters and selection criteria.