Writing my job application

Research suggests that a woman will only apply for a job if they meet 100% of the requirements, whilst a man would see the job and would still apply if only 60% of the requirements are met (from the harvard business review blog post, by Tara Sophie Mohr) . What is the difference between men and women in this instance – confidence!

Unlike, In my previous career post (My job application) I haven’t always been as confident with applications, there were times when I would look at the job description and although I longed to do the job. I had no idea how I could match my current skills with those required for the job and would shy away from applying.  Applying for jobs became frustrating and energy draining.

Building back my confidence to apply for those jobs that I was more than capable of doing, required me pushing through the doubt and just focusing on the facts of what I had done and what I can do (Don’t think, just do..) And this is how I did it:

1. Basic CV building – previous experience

I always start my CV writing process by writing a full history of what I did in my previous roles. When I have got all that information down,  I rewrite and summarise, until I have a concise 2-3 sentences per role. Older positions (those beyond 5 years) only have a brief one sentence description or a list of key actions.

I subscribe to the school of thought that a CV should be clear, concise and no more than 2 sides of A4. You have to remember that most employers reading your CV are time limited and your experience and relevance to the position has to jump out at them from the page, in terms of good formatting and key words that all relate to what the role requires.

2. Add a skill/competency section to start of your CV

This section is purely a summary of skills and experience. I tend to have 3/4 bullet points of skills, grouped as communication & team work; management experience; etc (and whatever is relevant in your field of work).

3. Matching experience with job requirements

I do this by going through the person specification in detail and writing down against each point how I meet that requirement. If I don’t meet all requirements, then I focus on what I do meet and expand more on those experiences.

4. Tailor CV

I then tailor my CV, focusing on my experience that is relevant to job the requirements (step 2). I will still include all my work history, but those areas that are not relevant a brief sentence describing role will do.

3. Cover letter

How can you do the job better than anyone else? In my cover letter I include two to three most relevant experiences and/or skills. Whatever is added to the cover letter has to make you stand out of the crowd and draw the employer to your CV. Again remember to be concise and relevant and try to keep to one side of paper.

4. Calling Employer / Rapport building

I try to call most employers pre/ post submitting an application, to get a clearer view of what the role is about. Doing this really helps with CV tailoring and rapport building with potential interviewer. It can also help you decide if this is really something you will be interested in doing or not.

5. Not shortlisted – give them a call

I have made the application process a learning one and call employers back if I don’t get shortlisted for a interview (crazy huh…nope there is a method to my madness). By doing this, I get further insight into how employers see me on paper. I can gain an understanding as to what other skills I could develop or how to tailor my CV better (a good recruitment consultant can also help you with this).


When I started doing this, my first few calls were nerve wracking and I was worried about what they would say to me (I wasn’t shortlisted after all) but I reminded myself that this was for my learning not theirs. Sometimes employers brush you off and can’t be bothered to give you an appropriate answer, if that happens I just politely end the call and move on.  But often the person shortlisting, is kind enough to help and guide you in submitting a better application for next time. So give it a try, I promise you it is worth it.

6. Write it all down

Just for that extra touch of obsessive – I have a notebook labelled “job applications” where I make a note of jobs I have applied for and feedback from my calls to the employer (step 4 and step 5). Over time this notebook has become my “job application bible” and later in the process my “interview preparation tool”. The more jobs you apply for and interviews you attend, then the richer the information in the notebook. I have discovered that by focusing on the learning from the job application process, I can enjoy job hunting and take more chances with the jobs I apply for (where I meet only 60% of requirements) because I know whatever the outcome, this is my personal development opportunity.

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