Your job application is the first contact with your potential employer. When developing your application it’s important that this communication is a true representation of your abilities and shows that your skills match those your prospective employer is seeking.
Having been on the other side of the desk and vetted hundreds of applications, here is my perspective on how to make your application stand out.
Do apply early. Your future employer may be sorting through applications daily and making interview decisions along the way.
Do ensure your resume and cover letter are professionally formatted and have been spell checked (Not American spell check). If you aren’t a typist, ask a friend, customise a template provided for free online or even pay a professional to do it. But remember, your application will only be as good as the relevant information it contains.
Do get the name and spelling of the boss, human resources contact or the recruiter correct and their title.
Do show enthusiasm in your cover letter. Employers know, you can train anyone to complete a task, but can’t teach a positive attitude.
If you know someone working within the company, do take the opportunity to ask them for a recommendation. If they are happy to do it, remember it’s not ‘What you know, but who you know’.
Do ensure your cover letter and resume include things like the type of truck license or forklift ticket you hold or time spent on a specific tractor or machinery, particularly if mentioned in the job advertisement. Also, include your family on farm experience if that’s where you have gained your knowledge.
If you have applied via email, do follow up with an email if you don’t receive a reply. Your application may not have made it through a server or two.
Don’t add cheesy things like sachets of coffee or chocolate bars to your application encouraging your potential employer to ‘take a break’ to read your application. (Gosh this was just awful!)
Don’t include a photo of yourself on your cover letter or resume. You’re working in Agriculture, not a modelling agency – Just saying! Also, fancy fonts, giant envelopes and coloured paper just don’t cut it.
Don’t roll out the same application for all jobs, just changing the name of the company. It might sound harsh, but with hundreds of applications for one role, I used to receive these and disregard them, as it shows no effort has been made for this particular role. You need to tailor your cover letter to the job on offer and your resume can be edited to highlight the skills which match the role.
Don’t undersell yourself. Aussies don’t like people who brag, but this is the time to show your experience and abilities. Equally, don’t write pages and pages about how good you are!
Don’t include irrelevant personal interests, particularly if they might be a bit unusual. Weekend Medieval war games might scare a conservative employer, where sheep dog trials would be perfect!
Remember, it’s the simplest things that will make your application stand out for the right reasons. Ensuring the review of your application isn’t a chore for your prospective employer, will be a great start.
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