How to write a perfect job application
Do you want your job application to stand out? In this article, we’ll guide you through a 3 step process and help you convince your potential employer that you are the most suitable candidate for the job by writing the perfect job application.
A tiny but crucial information: Applying a job in Denmark mostly requires both an application and a CV – they supplement each other and are equally important.
Food for thought: 1 page & an attention span of 138 seconds
70% of Danish employers prefer a job application to be of maximum one page (Recruitment Analysis 2016). Also, employers spend an average of 2 minutes and 18 seconds reading the application.
Step 1: Analyse the job advert
The prerequisites of a well written application is an analysis of the job advert. Read the job advert and highlight the requirements in the position.
In other words: Look for need-to-have skills. This could be: “Excel-master”, project management, and certain number of years’ of experience from the industry.
After having read the job advert several times you have to look for another type of skills often introduced “It is an advantage if you…”. Their mostly categorized as Nice-to-have skills.
Done? When you have listed all the skills on a paper you are ready to look at how you match the company’s needs.
As you may have noticed when looking at job adverts employers’ list of wanted skills is long. Remember though; it is a wish list and not a must have list, so don’t be afraid to apply for jobs that seem to have a long set of requirements.
And this brings us forward to step 2: Call the company and ask them about their “requirements”.
Step 2: Call the company
Yes – in Denmark it’s actually fair and square to grab the phone and call your potential employer.
When we asked the employers in our Recruitment Analysis 2016, only 1% said that candidates should NOT call and ask questions related to the job advert, whereas 66% of companies acknowledged that they get relevant questions when job seekers call them.
And basically, the good application always starts with a good phone call. Unless the job description is extremely clear and undoubtful, you should call the company and ask a few relevant questions, before applying for the job. If you do so, you are more able to write a focused application.
Here are two examples of good questions:
- Are some of the outlined skills requirements more important than others?
- When you ask for three-five years of experience, what do you mean by this? Would you elaborate on precisely which kind of experience you are mostly looking for (knowledge of trade, working processes, etc.)?
If necessary, bring up your own experience – and ask whether your described experience sounds relevant in relation to their demand.
What makes a good call? 79% of employers emphasize that a good call is characterized by a candidate asking questions where the answer does not appear in the job advert (Recruitment Analysis 2016).
Step 3: Write a job application based on the new information
Now that you have analysed the job advert, identified lists of need-to-have and nice-to-have skills, and have the information needed thanks to a phone call, you are ready to write. When writing, be aware of 3 important elements in your application.
1. Your match with the job and company
Be very specific, when you’re describing which working tasks you are able to engage in. Look closely at your skills:
What are your abilities and how are you able to use them in this job function?
Explain further: What value do you add and how? And for whom do you make a difference?
If your profile is a little far from the match, although you’ve previously been working with something similar, it is up to you to show, how your skills from another job can be used directly in this job.
Don’t assume that the reader figures it out on his/her own.
2. An original motivation
In this paragraph of your application you have the opportunity to make your application more personal.
88% of companies state that the best way to convince them that you are motivated for the job is to describe your motivation for the specific job function. (Recruitment Analysis 2012).
When writing your motivation, try to answer these questions:
Why this particular company?
Which elements of the job provide you with a particular high degree of job satisfaction?
Take the test: If you are able to replace the name of the company with the competitor’s, without your text losing its meaning, then the motivation is inadequate and simply too standardized.
3. The personal match
The personal match a third important aspect of your application.
Merge it in, where it fits well – don’t save an independent paragraph for the purpose. To show the personal match you should describe the personal skills, which you believe match the company, the department and/or the job.
Be careful not to be insignificant: Are you flexible, creative and adaptable? If you want to gain points, you can choose to narrate how you’re showing your flexibility:
In my current job, I am both producing presentation material to the director, holding client meetings and are responsible for the interior decoration of the department.
Three considerations when writing your job application
Do you have enough examples in your application?
According to 55% of employers “Insufficient description of the professional match between applicant and job” is a shortcoming in applications (Recruitment Analysis 2018). Also, 36% of companies think jobseekers should generally be better at giving examples of their professional core competencies (Recruitment Analysis 2018).
Have you tried to compare your motivation for a job with love letters?
Probably not. But if you do, consider how nobody wants standard answers and clichés or a sense that your love might as well be aimed at someone else. Bear in mind that employers are human beings. They want to know why they, in particular, have been chosen. Moreover, why you have chosen to apply for this particular job.
Is your headline too boring?
Make sure your headline is catchy and simultaneously informs about your qualifications as an applicant.
Be concise, clear and clickable. Here’s an example:
Business oriented advisor with extensive network in Danish business community
Curious to know, how we could help you with your job search in Denmark?
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A Handbook of Modern Job Search
Modern Job Search will help you understand all the mental obstacles you can face as a job seeker in Denmark and gives you an extensive A to Z guide on how to search for a job in Denmark.
Have you heard about our Recruitment Analysis that is conducted each year?
Since 2011 we have carried out a yearly survey, where we ask approx. 2.000 Danish employers how they recruit, what their preferences are, which recruitment channels they use etc.
The results of this survey are assembled in a Recruitment Analysis that is freely available for everyone to download and read. Actually you can have a look at the most important results from all the analyses here.