I was recently appointed to a shortlisting committee for various positions in my organisation.
What I thought would be an exciting undertaking and an opportunity to bring young people on board turned out to be disappointing instead.
Despite receiving over 500 applications, only a dozen candidates qualified to proceed to the interviewing stage.
This is because applicants made simple but costly mistakes. It is important to note that you job application is a demonstration of your attention to detail which is often outlined as a key skill in most job descriptions.
Here are 10 simple ways to make your job application stand out.
1. Put contact information
During the shortlisting exercise, I noticed that several applicants had met all the qualifications, but we could not reach out to them because they did not leave any contact information.
In fact, they sent their applications through a cybercafé’s email address which made it impossible to trace them.
If you are job hunting, create an email account with your first name and last name. Additionally, put pertinent contact information such as email and phone number on both the CV and cover letter.
2. Avoid attaching your photos
Photos provide grounds for discrimination on the basis of looks, age or skin colour. Avoid giving employers a reason to judge your character or competence before they meet you. Do not attach a photo unless it is a requirement specified by the employer. Conversely, if it is a requirement, attach a professional portrait instead of a selfie with your friends at a club.
3. Label documents clearly
Most organisations now require applicants to send requisite documents via email. To make recruiters work easier and your application neat, label your documents for easy identification. For example, if you are attaching a CV, label it as “CV – Gladys N”.
4. Scan related documents continuously
Some documents, for example university transcripts usually have multiple pages. When sending via email, scan multiple pages into one pdf file instead of each scan being saved as a separate file. It is not the work of the employer to connect the dots.
5. Use a clear scanner
It takes no effort to ensure that the text on your scanned document is clear and readable. You would rather spend extra coins to repeat the scanning process rather than having dark copies that no one can read.
6. Attach a cover letter
An applicant’s ability to express themselves is judged based on how well they write their cover letter. Always take time to prepare a tailored cover letter emphasizing your strengths and past experiences that make you the best fit for the position.
7. Do a social media clean-up
In today’s digital age, employers screen job applicants’ social media accounts before making the hiring decision. If you are job hunting, keep your social media accounts private or at least avoid posting controversial content such as politics or religion.
8. Tailor your CV to the job description
Most job applicants prepare one generic CV and send it to different companies. This lazy move often makes your application irrelevant as it is not tailored to the job description and ultimately, the employer’s needs. If the job requires you to have experience in digital media management, highlight previous work experience and success attained.
Before clicking ‘send’, take time to proofread your CV, cover letter, statement of purpose or any relevant material on your application.
In fact, it is advisable to invite someone to help check for errors in spelling, word usage, punctuation, and grammar. You can also use digital tools such as Grammerly - grammar checker.
10. Write a message on the email document
A message on the email body is not only a formality or courtesy but also an opportunity to impress. Write a one paragraph statement on the email body identifying the job you are applying for, highlighting key competences and stating which documents you’ve attached. Additionally, ensure that the email subject is clear.
Employers are often flooded with applications. Consequently, your application needs to stand out and this, as explained above, does not need rocket science. When making the next application remember that the devil is in the detail.
Gladys Njoroge is a communications practitioner based in Nairobi
Email: [email protected]