How to write a job application and a CV

A good job application and a CV are always tailored to the vacancy you are applying for. Try and stand out in a positive sense. See below for tips about writing job applications and CVs.

Draw the employer's attention to your skills

The purpose of the job application is to explain how you meet the selection criteria for the job. Also describe your other strengths if they are relevant to the job you are applying for. If the vacancy is not precisely in your own field, you have to assess how your skills are relevant to the specific job you are applying for.

You should not seek to explain any long absences from working life in a job application. Give a neutral account of your history, even if some of it has been difficult.

Aim for an attractive application that stands out

Try and stand out, as a good application is your ticket to a job interview. Standing out is easy, but doing it in a positive sense is hard.

Those reading the applications also have their personal preferences. Sometimes a slightly longer and unusual application aimed to market your skills can make an impression. You can write naturally in your own style, as long as you do not err too far from accepted document standards. The employer may be used to finding certain information in a specific location. It is important that the application is attractive to the recipient.

The safest format for a good application is a one-page application letter and an adequately detailed, two-page CV.

A good job application is

  • visually attractive
  • clear and contains no mistakes
  • easy to understand on the first reading – it shows whether you meet the professional requirements and personal characteristics needed in the job.

Attach to your e-mail message a covering note that contains your greetings and contact details and a short description of your skills in a few lines.

Application model for an advertised vacancy

Following this model will help you to structure and describe your skills and competence. The application should consist of the following sections

  • in the introduction, you approach the subject
  • in the middle section, you describe your skills and competence
  • at the end, you express your wish for a personal interview.

Application model for an unadvertised job opportunity – open application

An open application or a marketing letter is used to apply for jobs that have not been advertised publicly. Remember to narrow down the description of your skills - do not go overboard.

  • Try and only describe the skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • First consider the type of tasks you would like to take on.
  • Think about what needs of the employer you could respond to.

Application as an e-mail message

You can also type your application in the message field of an e-mail. Write your message as carefully as you would in case of a conventional application. You can draw on the conventional application model.

In the subject line, type in Application and the job title for which you are applying.

  • Start with a salutation.
  • An application set out as a letter may be more expansive in style than a conventional application, and it is not necessary to strictly follow the document standard.
  • Before the final greetings, refer to your CV attached to the application.
  • Conclude your letter with final greetings and your contact details.

An application submitted through an employer's online service

Electronic applications submitted through an online service have their own special features. The recruiter may run searches in them, so you should look for words that describe the nature of the job and the applicant's characteristics in the ad. Use these keywords in your application, but also bring up your special skills.

When submitting an application

  • read the instructions for completing the form
  • type the text intended for open questions elsewhere and copy-paste it to the online application
  • print out the application for your own reference
  • in case of an open application, update your application regularly after submission.

Describe your skills on a video

The latest job-seeking tool is a CV in video format. It can help you to give employers a more versatile picture of yourself than a conventional CV.  A short video of 1-3 minutes in duration is uploaded to a free video service and sent to the employer as a link.

You should practice your introduction until you can do it naturally and without reading it off a sheet.  For example, you can

  • explain about your special skills
  • describe your personality or strengths
  • give a sample of your language skills.

Collect your best work in a portfolio

A portfolio is a collection of your best and most important work or achievements. It is used to lend added value to your job-seeking efforts. There are many ways of putting together a portfolio. If may be a folder, a briefcase, a sample piece, a plan or a drawing, a collection of photographs, a USB flash drive or a DVD.

Portfolios are typically seen in creative and design fields, but they can work in many other fields besides. The portfolio of a chef, for example, could contain recipes the applicant has developed, photographs of dishes they have created and customer feedback.

It is a good idea to put together a new portfolio every time you apply for a job. However, do not make your portfolio overly large.

A portfolio can contain

  • certificates, recommendations and evaluations
  • samples of various tasks, including brochures, posters, fliers or press articles
  • anything that will help you get a job.

You can send the portfolio to the employer or bring it with you to the interview. If your portfolio can be accessed online, you can send the employer a link to it.