COVID-19 Advice for the JCU Community - Last updated: 8 June 2022, 12pm (AEST)

Careers and Employability Written Applications

Written Applications

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.

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 any of the following:

  • Cover letter (maximum two pages) addressing the key capabilities of the role and outlining your motivation
  • Resume (check page length requirements)
  • Statement addressing selection criteria
  • A copy of your Academic Transcript
  • Online application form
  • Answering specific questions
  • Providing a pitch

Applying online

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.

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:

  • One page in length (unless specified by the employer)
  • Left justification – all addresses and paragraphs should be aligned to the left of your page
  • If possible, address your letter to a specific person

In closing your cover letter end on a positive note and sign off with Yours sincerely.

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.


  • Tailor your resume to the job description and the employer and maintain an achievement focus
  • Be clear, concise and truthful and keep it to no more than four pages in length (or follow the employer's instructions)
  • Use positive action words to highlight your strengths
  • Use a simple layout, with consistent font style and bullet points
  • Use bullet points to list your employment history, responsibilities and achievements


  • Use jargon and slang
  • Present a resume that contains spelling or grammatical errors
  • Include a photo of yourself
  • Add a border or use fancy fonts
  • 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
  • Pitch

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

  • Make an appointment with Careers and Employability to seek feedback on your application. Please have a draft prepared before your appointment. The purpose of the appointment is to provide feedback not to have your application written for you.
  • Develop your written application skills with the Employability Edge program - Master Written Applications module.
  • Visit our Resources section for examples resumes, cover letters and selection criteria.