How to write a good application
These words are from IDA’s Career Consultant Morten Esmann, who trains and gives courses on job search and how to write a good application.
“All surveys and experience show that the employer spends very little time on reading the application and CV – and nobody reads the application from one end to another. So the eyes need to be able to quickly read through the application and find out the most interesting things about you. It has to be very clear what you can contribute with,” says Morten Esmann.
”Alle undersøgelser og erfaring viser, at arbejdsgiveren bruger utrolig kort tid på at læse ansøgning og CV – og ingen læser ansøgningen fra ende til anden – så derfor skal øjnene let kunne læse ansøgningen og finde det, der er spændende ved dig. Det skal være meget klart og tydeligt, hvad du kan bidrage med,” siger Morten Esmann.
Analyse the needs of the company
The application is a sales letter which, together with the CV, should give the reader a sense of wanting to meet you. It does not need to tell everything, but the essentials. That is why you need to form an impression of the company and the position before you start writing. In 75% of job postings you will find the name and phone number of somebody you can call, if you want to know more.
“With extra knowledge about the job you have the prerequisites for writing a better, more accurate and to the point application. When you call, you have the possibility of asking about the most important challenges in the job. You can ask what the criteria for success are, what the most important tasks, projects and demands are – and what is expected from you. You will know something that is not said in the job posting and that makes you one step ahead of the others,” Morten Esmann points out.
When you have talked to someone inside the company, it is a good idea to write it in the application. You can also use LinkedIn and other media to seek out information about people in the company. Maybe somebody you know already works there, and you can call to do extra research.
Write a catchy headline
Make your headline personal and form it so it depicts who you are – for instance ‘Export Engineer with a specialty in market analyses’ for the job as Sales Engineer. The sentence needs to describe how you you are able to fill out the position.
The crucial motivation
Your motivation for applying for the job needs to be very clear in the application. So start already in the introduction with describing what your motivation for the job is. Give the employer an argument for continue reading. It is about telling why the company is exciting and why the job itself is exciting to you.
“What you tell needs to be concretely angled towards the job content. It has to be personal and tell exactly what your interests in the position are,” says Morten Esmann and continues:
“For instance, you could write: I have noticed that you seek employees with special competencies inside sales, export and wind energy. I have worked in these areas and that is why I am applying for the job as Export Engineer. This is a double motivation where you tell why you think the job is exciting and you start unveiling why you as a candidate is interesting.”
Describe your background and give examples of your competencies
When you have caught the attention of the employer, it is time for – in a short and precise way – describing your background and your most essential experiences and qualifications.
”You need to briefly outline your background - and remember that a good application primarily should point forward into the future – but you need to tell the story about the foundation you have, that makes you qualified for the position. Which skills do you possess, that makes you a good match for this job,” says Morten Esmann.
The most important part of the application is about what you can offer to the employer. Be clear about how you meet the demands being stated in the job post and which tasks you are especially qualified for.
“You need to explain how your experience and competencies can be used in the new job and give one or two examples of this. You need to show that you know what the job is about and what responsibilities you will be able to take on. It can be in bullets,” tells Morten Esmann.
Use examples of how you solve tasks
You need to bring out some examples of how you have solved similar tasks. In that way you show that you have the experience and the employer will feel safe and know that you can solve the tasks and challenges of the position.
“As an example, you could write: “I see that you put emphasis on being able to work across professions. Here I would use my competencies inside project management and courses inside communication and management.” It is not enough to just state that you are good at something – you have to show it through the tasks, you have solved,” says Morten Esmann.
Bring out relevant interpersonal skills
In many companies they do not look only at the professional skillset of the applicants. The interpersonal skills also matter very much. Your interpersonal skills are not evaluated before the interview – so the description of your interpersonal skills should be short in the application.
“It is a good idea to use the same words as in the job posting, but avoid a list of clichés. You need to adjust words and qualifications tied to a specific task. For instance, you could write: “When solving tasks I make good use of my ability to have focus on several tasks at the same time and my cooperation skills,” says Morten Esmann.
Remember your CV
A CV should be easy-to-read, informative and inviting. The employer has to be able to see quickly your competencies and where your knowledge and experience comes from. The CV points backwards into the past and describes your former positions and your education, but it also need to be adjusted to the specific position you are applying for. Many companies only spend a few minutes screening applications – and most of them start with the CV – so it has to be good and targeted.