Tips for writing applications

Marianne Bom & Rie Jerichow, Publicér

Show who you are, so the employer can match you with a good job, says career counsellor Line Randa from Aalborg University.

Line Randa lectures in career studies
at Aalborg University, and advices students about careers.
Photo: Louise Dybbro.

When you put your hands on the keyboard with the intention of writing an application, you want to find a job that suits you. At the same time, the employer is looking for an employee who suits the tasks and the culture.
Both parties have an interest in the right match, and that is why you need to show who you are in the application, says career counsellor and special consultant Line Randa from Aalborg University.

“We use the term ‘authenticity’ when we counsel students. The application has to be representative for the person who steps into the job interview,” she says and mention an example. “I once met a brilliant guy who was nice and quiet. He could easily write application that had a wow-effect with great impact: “with me onboard, you will have a turnover of so and so much”. He was called in to a lot of interviews, but did not get the jobs. You would understand that when you looked at him, because when he stepped into the room, you thought: “He did not write that application”,” says Line Randa. The point is that the young man got a job when he started writing applications that reflected who he was.

Make time for research
That is why Line Randa encourages students to not just start writing applications. The first thing you can do, is to figure out what you really care about. Which aspects of your field are you passionate about? What characterise you when you work?
“It is hard questions to answer. It takes time, and it can be beneficial to spar with someone else. You can easily ask your fellow students what they think characterise you. We have good experiences with that,” says Line Randa.

Her most important tip is that the applicant research themselves and the potential employer: “That way, the process may take a bit longer, but the hypothesis is that in the end, it is the right way to go. It leads to a job that fits you.” The research of the work place is about learning about the company’s situation, tasks, and needs. There can be a lot of sources: job listings, website, Infomedia, LinkedIn, and conversation with relevant people at the workplace.

“You should only call the company, if there is something you would like answered. Not to pitch yourself. Approach inquisitively. When you have answers to your questions, it will also be easier to write a good start to your application,” says Line Randa.


Three tips for the application

    • Figure out what you are good at and passionate about.
    • Look into the tasks at the workplace that you can help solve.
    • Write the application short, authentic, and make it known what the employer gains from hiring you.

Source: Line Randa, career counsellor, Aalborg University.

Build of application
The start of the application should start off in the company’s current activities, that the applicant would like to help lift. “The contents of the application should look into the future. The employer should be able to read that with this applicant on board, you can reach results,” says Line Randa.

If the application should have a catchy headline or not, depends on who is writing, she says. “Most of the time, it is best to write a headline that authentically highlights what is special about the application. It could be “engineer with focus on sustainability”. I know someone who wrote “newly hatched, but not a chicken”. It worked for her, because she thought it was funny. She also wanted to be fun at the interview,” says Line Randa.

After the headline and the start comes a “we-paragraph”, where the applicants explains their competences, and how they are used at the workplace. The last part is important, because the company should be able to see the relevance. “We often see that academics list their knowledge. They should also remember to tell what they can contribute with their skills,” says Line Randa. It is easiest to hit the bullseye, when you have spoken to someone in the company. It is also a good idea to test your ideas in the application with people who knows the company and the field.

What is left is to say that the application should be able to be read quickly. Use sub-headlines and consider ending with an “I-paragraph”: “You should preferable find a show, don’t tell-example of what you do in your free time. It can be that you sail with your friends. It talks indirectly about who you are. Stay away from adjectives,” says Line Randa. “If you want to say that you are innovative, make an innovative proposal. If you want to say that you are creative, make the application look creative. If you are structured, make a structured application.”