Job application 101


BY Sam Davies


12 April 2017

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Recruitment. Such a dirty word. I could not imagine doing that as a full-time job. It makes me worry for humanity as much as the elections of Donald Trump and Pauline Hanson combined. I have ranted about this before and I will probably have to every time we put up a new job ad. Rather than just bitch though, I thought I would spell out in black and white some of the things that I am looking for (and NOT looking for).

First and foremost, if you are seriously applying for a job then take each application seriously. Scattershot marketing sucks, and you are marketing yourself here. If you really want a job (and the unemployment rate says you do) and are not just making your dole officer happy, then put in some bloody effort.

Read the job ad and then re-read it. Then read it again. Make some notes about what you think they are looking for. Did they mention three times that you need to be ridiculously organised and pay attention to detail? You probably should be making that a priority in your application then. Did they ask for a cover letter? If so then you should probably include a cover letter and if they didn’t ask? You should definitely include a cover letter.

The cover letter is THE most important thing in my opinion. It will indicate your:

Level of comprehension (can you understand simple tasks and perform them?, can you read between the lines?)
Current situation ( Are you available to start tomorrow?)
Personality (do you have one?)
Intelligence ( 1 + 1 = ? )

Your cover letter is the blurb for YOU – you are selling me YOU! I have a short attention span and am already pissed off because I have to read 300 applications. Make it interesting and do it quickly!!!!

The cover letter is where you can win over your potential employer and even mask some of your inexperience. I would 100% interview someone that was underqualified but wrote an incredible cover letter. Fake it till you make it.

I will give you an example of what the best cover letter for our latest opportunity did:

  1. Took time to research the company and what we do. They found out the names of all the staff and addressed their email and letter to all of us. That is pretty cute and shows they are paying some attention.
  2. Made an assumption about our tone and what we would be looking for and replied with that in mind. (They used humour and took the piss out of themselves. If you are applying to a bank then maybe this isn’t the right path, but there will be A path.)
  3. Addressed each of our core requirements in detail. (ie. I am VERY organised. I am GREAT on the phone…)
  4. Sold themselves. Self-belief in a non-egotistical way is very alluring to a potential employer. I want ‘A’ people. Even if you don’t think you are an ‘A’ person, sell yourself as one anyway.

I am not going to look at your CV if your cover letter stinks. In the case of this position, I was not that interested at all in the CV. When I did open it though, I was looking for.

  • A well structured out document
  • Some proof of employment and examples of what they had learned / achieved
  • A further insight into their personality / character

I DID not care about:

  • High School Grades
  • Where you went to primary school
  • The minute details of every single odd job you have ever done
  • Anything to do with Centrelink
  • That you work well in a team environment and also on your own.

I like CV’s that have a good mix of employment history and personal details. There is no reason why you can’t detail the skills you learned as captain of a sports team or playing in a band. Employment is not all about study and work history. It is about you as a person and your total life experience. I am VERY interested in where you have travelled or what you love to read. These things give me insight into your character and begin painting a picture of WHO YOU ACTUALLY ARE.

Speaking of pictures, photos are an interesting one. I know that many recruiters will advise against a photo on the grounds that it opens the door for discrimination. Trust me, your potential employer WILL be:

  • Looking at your facebook profile (keep it private if you wish, but your profile image will be viewable and in my opinion says a lot about you as a person)
  • Looking at your LinkedIn profile
  • Potentially looking at your instagram and twitter feeds

The things we share with the world say more to me than most CVs ever can, so make sure that your accounts echo what you would want an employer to see. That doesn’t mean deleting everything or locking privacy down. We are all human and our quirks are what make us unique.

So I think that a photo or links to your linkedIn (or social) accounts make sense on a CV. It saves me the hassle and gives you a chance to better curate my first opinion of you.


I am judging you…and doing it in a very short time frame. Make it memorable.

That is probably the best summary. Give me a short, punchy paragraph that says you have done some homework, that you know your stuff and you have that extra something over the next applicant.

It is a dog eat dog world out there and the cream rises to the top, everytime.

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Sam Davies

Sam has been running a Digital Agency in some form or another for almost a decade. He loves the internet and the positive changes it has brought to the world but still loves time away from the glowing cubes. Surf, Fish, Drink, Cook, Laugh….Drink! You can follow him on Instagram @samdaviesdn and on Snapchat @digitalnoir