Want to know how to make a job application or covering letter more appealing to your potential new employer?

For many years when I completed job applications I always thought from the perspective of myself – the skills, knowledge and experience that I could offer – which in theory sounds right because I am showing why I was the most qualified person to do that position.

But the problem is I was competing against a pool of applicants who were also just as qualified to do the job.  Therefore I didn’t stand out to be offered interviews.

If I applied for a position that hundreds of others also applied for how could make mine standing out, when everyone was saying the same thing?

The answer came to me when I was reading Dale Carnegies book “How to win friends and influence people” 

In Chapter three it covered “Arouse in the other person an eager want”

This said that we all have things that we want, but other people may not share your motivation and hence we fail to get the outcome we desire.

In the case of applying for a job, I want to work because I want to earn money or take the next step in my career.  But that doesn’t matter to the employer.

Therefore – I wasn’t thinking about what the employer wanted.

Okay I was giving what they said they wanted in the job criteria and I even dropped in useless buzzwords that everyone says like “enthusiasm” but this doesn’t get us an interview because none of this inspires that want as there are 100+ people who are also showing how they can fill the position.

To stand out you must focus on that bit extra – what the employer really wants.  All this takes is carefully wording and a little research to make sure that you are giving them what they want.


Firstly review you usage of “I” – this is a very possessive word and instantly suggests a self-interest.  Where appropriate change it to “We” or “You” this is more inclusive and is constantly used by politicians to give the impression that we are all in it together.

Working on a recruitment campaign I remember reading an application from someone who was really well qualified – they talked about how great they were how “I” did this.

To my surprise he wasn’t invited to an interview because they felt his application came across as arrogant – they weren’t sure if he was a team player and didn’t sound like he would fit with company values…


A second way of understanding the employer’s needs is to get a real good understanding of the values that matter to them – this is where further research comes in.  Look at the words they use on their website and Mission Statement and repeat it back at them.  A company might call themselves “innovative” or they might prefer the word “creative”.

Look at the sort of value of character they are looking for in their employees.  If you are applying for a retail job they might say “Strong customer focus”.

When answering the job criteria make sure to pepper it with examples of you working to meeting the organisation’s values.  I guarantee the person reading it will put 2+2 together and be thinking what a good fit you would be.

When you join a company you become a part of their culture – you start to use the words they do receive subliminal messages daily on their values.  As result these values stand out in day to day life and when it comes to reading applications it’s much easier to read the ones that work in the same language that you do.

A good closer

A good closer is a great way of making a massive impact on your application, dropping in key words that remind the reader of your best attributes and how you meet the values of the organisation.  For example, simply putting in:

“Working in ‘X’ field for ‘X’ year I have provided a professional service to our customers and would welcome the opportunity to demonstrate how my skills can help ‘organsation name’ reach its objectives.”

The closer is that final impression – if you make yourself sound like a selfless individual who would dedicate themselves to the needs of the company and has many great skills to contribute to the team.

In conclusion

I have worked with people who are great at what they do, but struggle with the application stage.  They don’t understand that it’s not about them, but about the need of the employer.

Always having the mindset of thinking about others needs, along with good grammar and demonstrable suitable experience (with examples) on the form will help make you stand out from the crowd when completing applications.

This advice is useful for all life – applications, interviews, day-to-day life.  Drop the entitlement – forget what you want and think what motivates the other person.  With careful thinking and manipulation we can combine our own interests with the desires of others to get what we want.

Further reading: My review of How to win friends and influence people


2 thoughts on “One simple way to improve your job application

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