How to make your job application stand out

Whether you’re a recent graduate searching for your very first job or looking to move onwards and upwards, the hiring process starts with your CV. It serves as a personal marketing tool that showcases your skills, experience, and qualifications to potential employers. Studies have shown that recruiters spend less than 60 seconds screening a CV.

So how do you make a good impression in a few seconds?

It starts with how you submit your CV:

Your CV submission email is the first opportunity you have to make a good impression with the recruiter or hiring manager and stand out from other applicants.

Make sure that your subject line contains the job name and job code of the position you are applying for. Recruiters and hiring managers receive hundreds of CVs and applications per week, so an email with no subject line or a vague one can be easily missed.

Include a brief, professional message to the hiring team expressing why you are interested in applying for the position and briefly highlight your qualifications and skills that relate to the job requirements mentioned in the job advertisement. Avoid vague and general messages as well as long-winded paragraphs, keep it short and to the point.

If you want to use the same message that you have used on other applications, it is imperative that you change the details from the previous position to the current one!

When attaching your CV and any other supporting documents, make sure that they are labelled appropriately with your name and description. Send a test email to yourself or someone you trust to check that the attachments open correctly.

Don’t overlook the design of your CV:

A good CV should be visually appealing and highlight your qualifications and experiences effectively. The contents of your CV should always remain the focus. Use simple layouts with distinct headings for each section. Basic elements like lines or icons can help organize information and add visual appeal.

Avoid using bright colors, decorative fonts and busy backgrounds with bold graphics and images that distract the reader from the actual content.

Ensure that you include all of the essential information:

Start off with your basic personal Information – name and correct contact details, current location and whether you are willing to relocate. Indicate your nationality, and if you are applying for work in a foreign country, if you have a valid VISA allowing you to work. Mention your proficiency in different languages, especially if it’s relevant to the job or if you’re bilingual/multilingual. Indicate what type of drivers licence you have and if you have your own transport. You can include your LinkedIn profile with your contact information should you wish to.

You can include a brief statement summarizing your career goals, key skills, and relevant experience relevant to this position – Remember, your CV should be tailored to each job application!

From this point forward in your CV, use bullet points and short, concise sentences to elaborate on your experience and skills. This makes it easier to scan and identify the essential details quickly.
List your previous work positions in reverse chronological order. Include job titles, company names, dates of employment, and a description of your responsibilities and achievements. A detailed breakdown of your duties and responsibilities is often overlooked by many candidates, and it is crucial to landing interviews. Recruiters and hiring managers cannot assume that you have the correct skills and experience just from looking at your job title.

Provide the details of all of your qualifications, including matric and degrees earned, along with institution names, graduation dates, and any honors or awards received. If you have any industry-specific certifications, licenses, or relevant training, include them in this section.

Highlight relevant skills and instrument knowledge that are applicable to the position you’re applying for. Include both hard skills (technical abilities) and soft skills (communication, teamwork, leadership, etc.).
When it comes to your technical skills and abilities, state what instruments and techniques you have worked with and include how many years or months of experience you have with each instrument. Add your level of proficiency with each technique. This is imperative when a job requires certain specialist knowledge and experience, such as HPLC or FEA. If those are the specific skills we are looking for and you don’t state that you have the skills and experience on your CV, it’s not likely you’ll be invited for an interview. Recruiters and hiring managers cannot interview every applicant to find out if they have the correct experience if they do not include it on their CV. Mention even basic computer skills and include your level of proficiency with certain programs or software.

Add a section to mention any notable accomplishments, awards, or recognition you have received in your professional or academic life. If applicable, include a list of publications, articles, research papers, or presentations you have authored or contributed to.

What you shouldn’t include on your CV:

Avoid including personal details such as your religion and photographs as well as your personal social media profiles (except for LinkedIn).

Unless your hobbies and interests directly relate to the job or demonstrate relevant skills, leave out too much detail on personal hobbies or interests.

Exclude skills that are not relevant to the job you’re applying for unless they demonstrate transferable skills or add significant value.

Pay attention to the finer details:

Now that you’ve got the content of your CV down, place the most critical details, such as your work experience or qualifications, at the beginning of each section. Use the job advertisement to help you identify the important details and skills that should be highlighted.

Finally, proofread and edit. Ensure your CV contains no spelling and grammatical errors. Read through it multiple times and ideally, ask someone else to review it to catch simple mistakes or inconsistencies.

A flawless document supports that you pay attention to detail and shows your commitment to professionalism and is the key to growing your career! 

You might also enjoy