14 tips for writing a good job application

Are you looking for a part-time job or a summer job? Or perhaps you recently graduated and are looking for your first proper job? This article gives you advice on how to write a good job application.

Read the job listing carefully

What qualifications and personal qualities are the company looking for? You don’t necessarily need to meet all the requirements for the job you’re applying for.  In the listing, the employer is describing their dream candidate, so don’t worry if you are unable to tick all the right boxes.
 

Read up on the employer

Check out the information on the employer's website. How does the company work, what are their strategies and goals? This information will help you to write a targeted application.
 

Customize your application to each job specifically

Don’t use the same application letter for all the jobs you apply for. Your application letter should be written specifically for each job you’re applying for.  How is your previous experience, particularly relevant to the tasks in the job?  Experience and qualifications irrelevant to the job should be left out of the application letter.

It can be advantageous, if your application letter demonstrates your knowledge of the company and the job you're applying for. You can of course reuse parts of a previous application for a similar type of position, but a potential employer will easily spot a standardized application letter.
 

Highlight your motivation

Why are you applying for this particular job? Why are you the right person for the job? Relevant experience, education and personal motivation can be important to highlight. Explain how you can contribute to the company, and how you can help them reach their goals. Avoid phrases like "this is my dream job", unless it really is …
 

Show, rather than tell

It’ s not very convincing to write "I am efficient and structured" or "I am a social and diplomatic person and good at interpersonal relations".

Anyone can claim to have the personal qualities the employer is looking for. But if you can exemplify your qualities by referring to earlier experience, your claim will seem more plausible.

Example:
"In working on my master's thesis, I learned to work independently, and structure my work so that I managed to complete the thesis on time."
"As a volunteer in a student organization, I have learned to organize events, and have gained extensive experience in working with people with different backgrounds and skills."

Keep it short!

The application letter should be about one page long. The people reviewing the job applications usually have a heap of applications to read. You have nothing to gain by wearing them out with an unnecessarily long text.
 

Concluding an application letter

End the letter with reiterating your interest in the job and why you are a good candidate. Also include a sentence stating that you hope to hear from the company.
 

Get rid of typos

Typos do not look good! Get a friend to proofread your application letter and provide input on wording and content.
 

Graphic design

The application should be formatted as a formal letter.

Formatting of a formal letter can, for example, be found on the NDLA website.


Save the document as a PDF-file if you are submitting the application by e-mail. If the employer uses an online recruitment system, copy and paste the application text.
 

CV

Many employers use online recruitment systems such as Jobbnorge or Webcruiter. Once you have created a user, and made a CV in the system, you can reuse the CV for all the positions you apply for. It may take some time to enter all the required information in the CV form, so make sure you start a while before the application deadline.

If the employer doesn’t use a recruitment system, you can design your CV as you wish. Remember that it should be neat and easy to read. List your latest experience first and include start and end times for all jobs/education.

It is also quite common to include a short text at the top of the CV; 2-4 sentences that summarize your key qualifications.

Include the following in your CV:
• full name and date of birth
• contact information
• education
• work experience
• computer skills
• language skills
• relevant extracurricular activity or voluntary work
• completed courses
• references

 

References

On your CV, it’s common to list 2-3 people as your references. These should be people who know you in a working capacity, and who can describe your work experience, work habits, character and skills. Contact a former boss or colleague and ask if it is okay for you to list them as a reference. Include the person's name, position, company, telephone number and email. If you do not have time to clarify if someone can be your reference before submitting your application, you can write that references will be provided later, if required.

If you are one of the final candidates for the position, the potential employer will contact your references.
 

Certificates and diplomas

If you are required to submit diplomas and certificates from previous jobs, this will be explicitly stated in the job listing. If this is not mentioned, you will usually be asked to bring diplomas to the interview. In recruitment systems such as Jobbnorge and Webcruiter, diplomas and certificates are often standard attachments.
 

Courses and advice

Do you want more advice on writing a job application? The Career Center at Sammen offers students free courses in how to find a job and on writing job applications.