Applying for a job

Once you find a job you’re interested in, it’s time to go after it! You need to read the advertisement carefully to determine what you need to do to apply, pay attention to the instructions for how to apply, the closing date, and what you need to include with your application.

This is the stage where you need to get everything together – you're ready to go out there and make it happen, so now's a good time to check that you have everything you need. It’s really important to read the ‘How to apply’ instructions very carefully. 

If you don’t submit your application the way the advertisement asks you to, or you don’t include everything  requested, your application might not be considered by the employer.

 

There are several different ways you might apply for a job.

These include:

  • via online applications/forms;
  • by email;
  • in person;
  • by phone; 
  • by mail/letter; or
  • via a website or social media.

You’ll need an email address to submit applications online or by email. After you’ve applied online, you'll usually receive a receipt or acknowledgement by email, telling you that your application has been received (check your junk mail folder!).

Be sure that your email address sounds professional – if not, set up a new one specifically for job applications.

 

Read the advertisement carefully to find out when the closing date and time is, so you have plenty of time to complete your application and submit it.

Never leave things until the last minute! Your internet might go down, your printer might not work, or you may lose track of time. Most employers won't accept late applications, no matter how good your excuse is.

The cover letter

The job advertisement usually states what to include with your application, such as a CV. One item you'll often see an application ask for is a cover letter.  The cover letter introduces you to the person reading your job application and provides a summary of the information in your  written application.

A woman writing a cover letter.

A good cover letter should:

  • be no longer than one page;
  • be directed to a particular person, addressing them as Mr, Mrs or Ms;
  • introduce yourself and provide your contact details;
  • state the job you are applying for;
  • clearly state the skills and experience you have that match those required by the job;
  • encourage the employer to read your application; and
  • end with a statement inviting the employer to respond – such as that you look forward to meeting them or attending an interview.

Take a look at the How to write a winning cover letter fact sheet in the Information and resources section of our website

Selection criteria/work-related requirements

Selection criteria and work-related requirements describe the knowledge, skills and abilities a person needs for that job. ‘Selection criteria’ is the term most often used in adverts for government jobs, larger organisations or professional roles, whereas  ‘work-related requirements’ is the term you’ll most likely see in non-government job adverts. Some common examples of selection criteria include ​demonstrated capacity to communicate effectively, a proven ability to work as part of a team; and well developed customer service skills.

Responding to selection criteria

When a job application asks you to ‘respond to the selection criteria’ or ‘address the work related requirements’,  it means that the employer wants you to describe how you meet the requirements of the job.

The best way to do this is with examples that show you’ve done what you say you can do – for example, how you worked as part of a team to solve a problem,  how you used your communication skills to provide excellent customer service, or how you used your customer service skills to resolve a conflict.

In many job descriptions, the selection criteria are divided into 'essential' (must have) and 'desirable' (good to have).  You must be able to demonstrate that you meet the essential requirements, and always try to respond to the desirable criteria where you can.

Take a look at our Key selection criteria help sheet

The STAR model

The STAR model is based around a four-step approach to describing your skills, knowledge and abilities in a way that demonstrates what you can do.

t's a great approach to follow when writing your application, and it's easy to do –  just come up with one short paragraph for each of the following.
 

  • Situation – Outline a specific circumstance where you developed the particular experience or used the required skills or qualities. Set the context of the situation, tell the story.
  • Task – What was happening? What was your role? What did you have to do?
  • Action – What action(s) did you take? What did you do and how did you do it?
  • Result – What were the results of what you did? What did you achieve?

The STAR model in action

It may take a bit of practice to get it right, but if you can learn to use the STAR model you will find it's a great way to demonstrate your actual skills and knowledge and it really can be quite easy to do. As an example, using the STAR model to answer a criteria such as "Demonstrated problem solving skills" might look something like this. 

"When I was working as a sales assistant in a fashion store, we had a huge sale starting the next day and at 5.30 the sale signs for the in-store displays hadn't arrived. (situation)

I was responsible for doing all of the displays (task) so I had to find a solution.

I ended up staying at work after the store closed  and I made some signs on the computer and printed them out. Then I put them in the displays all through the store, so that everything was ready for the next morning. (action)

The displays ended up looking great and the sale was a huge success". (result)

Alex's job application

Alex is applying for a job as a sales manager at a top men's fashion retail store — he saw it advertised online. He's had a good read through the job advertisement, and now he's going to start getting an application together.

Have a look at the steps Alex takes to complete his job application, to find out about some of the documents and other information you might need during your job hunt.

Use the buttons to move between the slides.

Alex.

The job advertisement tells Alex:

  • about the job role;
  • about the required qualifications and experience;
  • how and when to apply; and
  • what to include with his application.

After reading the advertisement carefully, Alex is confident he is well suited to the job. He downloads the employment application package, including the position description document, so he can read about the job in more detail.

The job advertisement says that a cover letter must be included. So first up Alex begins by drafting his cover letter, where he plans to introduce himself and promote his suitability for the role.

Alex briefly introduces and then describes himself, and his skills and experience, and outlines why he is applying for the job.

He aims to sound confident, capable and professional, but also friendly and keen.

The last piece required for the application is a current resumé. Alex has been keeping hisup to date, so he just needs to check it and adjust any sections that particularly relate to this job opportunity.

Alex's resumé includes a career objective, which expresses his desire to work high fashion – a great match for the job he's applying for. It also details his work history, starting with the most recent then working back.

Using dot points throughout his resumé has helped Alex keep it to two pages.

Now Alex needs to compose a written application addressing the work-related requirements of the job, as described in the position description. Noting that the written application is to be no more than two pages long, Alex knows he needs to keep his responses brief and to the point.

Alex ensures that he describes his skills that are relevant to the work-related requirements, and includes examples of when he has used those skills. He uses the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) model to address some of the work-related requirements, which gives him an opportunity to showcase his skills and experience from his previous job in retail fashion.

The job advert stated, ‘Year 12 standard of education is desirable’, so Alex decides to include his WACE certificate  with his application.

A retail store.

Alex reads through all his documents and checks them against the job advertisement. He makes sure he has included everything that was asked for, and that the documents are correct. He also runs a spell check through everything.

Finally, Alex asks his friend Lorna to read through his application just to check that he hasn't missed anything. 

The ad also asks applicants to apply by email or mail. Alex chooses email as it's faster and saves having to print all the documents. 

Alex shows his application to Lorna.

How we can help

Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you get a CV or resumé together, and even help you write your cover letter and job application. They offer free support and assistance for jobseekers, and also offer free workshops to help wih your job search.