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1. The Culling ProcessThe job application process is really a culling process, so anything you do that employers can use to "cull" you out will go against you, especially with jobs that have a large number of people applying for them.
TIME is the enemy, and the employer will use techniques to save themselves as much time as possible initially when reviewing the pile of applications received.
It's often a three step process...
Round One CullingIf there were 100 applications for one position, at least 50% - 70% would be a good number to get rid of... sorry - cull - in the first round, and if you give them ANY excuse, you will get culled!
The obvious things that will get you culled out immediately include:
And so many people overlook the obvious, and that is their undoing!
So... once you've looked after all the "common sense" stuff, you should be more than half way there...
Hopefully, your application has already stood out because it did NOT have those glaring boo-boos which result in applications being placed in the "Thank You But Go Away" pile... over there... near the round filing tin :)
Round Two...Of the remaining 30-50% of applications, employers would want to eliminate at least half of them in this round.
The big question now is HOW do you make your application stand out from the other applications that survived the first culling?
THIS is the real question you want an answer for... and now you must put yourself into the head of your future employer and look at it from their perspective.
Remember... they will probably consider applications from "2nd round" candidates for no more than 30 seconds to 1 minute. What do you think they want to see in that time?
They certainly DON'T want to read anything that is too hard, complex, wishy washy, badly organised... etc. At this point, they most likely need to determine that you meet ALL of the essential requirements, and many of the desirable ones as specified in the advertisement.
A simple statement such as "I meet all the essential requirements" will NOT DO IT!!!
You need a series of strongly constructed statements on your cover letter which state HOW your relevant experience etc meets ALL the requirements... for example, if you needed proven customer handling skills, you could say something like...
Such statements can make more than one point, and often addressing several selection criteria if you are careful in the choice of words.
Speaking of which, make sure you use the words the employer used in the advertisement! If they see their words used in your application, it will make their job easier to determine whether you are suitable... If you DON'T use their words, you're making life too hard for them!
Round Three...The 15-25% of applications which make it this far are given very serious consideration to select WHO will come in for an interview.
Out of those original 100 applications received, I'd probably only want to interview the top 10 or so.
So now the employer will be looking in detail at your complete application, so their attention will go to your attached resume, which MUST back up what you said in your cover letter.
In fact, you may find that you need to do different versions of your resume to tailor it to suit individual positions you are applying for... Specifically, the area of your resume which addresses the essential/desirable criteria... hey - wouldn't it help the employer if it was all nicely laid out for them there too???
How can you "hide" the fact that you don't have all the essential/desirable requirements? Well, if you are lacking in one area, you may be able to emphasise the others a bit more.
It all depends on how many of the other applications received address ALL the requirements, in which case, you could be out of luck. It also depends on how strict they are with the culling of those that don't address all the criteria.
Finally, get someone (possibly a professional) to look over your application - they should look at the advertisement, your cover letter, and your resume and associated references - to see if you've done everything you should have!
If You Miss Out...Just remember, if you DO miss out, you do have the right to ask (politely) where your application was lacking... and then thank them for taking the time to chat to you.
Good luck! Your careful preparation of your entire application should have the battle half won.
Let's look at some good and bad examples of application letters.
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