The written application

The  written application comprises:

Your Cover Letter

The cover letter is the first document a prospective employer will read when considering you for a position. It is therefore to be as impressive as possible. It is:

  • An essential document that introduces you to potential employers and highlights your suitability for the role under application.
  • It should be one A4 page in length and laid out in professional letter format
  • In many cases the cover letter is just as important as your resume. Some employers will not look at a resume if it is not accompanied by a cover letter.

A summary is below of what a good vs. a poor cover letter includes: 

A Good Cover Letter

A Poor Cover Letter

Has the correct name and address of the company

No name or address for company

Is addressed correctly to the person listed in the advertisement (with their name spelt  correctly!)

Is a generic letter that contains information not relevant to the job or does not attempt to address the skills and attributes listed in the job advert

In concise and clearly outlines your claim to the position you are applying for – this should be tailored against the skills and attributes outlined in the advert

Is poorly written and presented – uses slang and colloquial speech.

Is well presented and written standard font type and size, with no spelling, grammatical or typographical errors.

Is not updated – each time you apply for a job you will need to update your cover letter to ensure you have the correct details of the company and that the letter is tailored to the specific needs of the job role. A letter that is not updated and makes reference to another company and/or makes claims irrelevant to the job role will be discarded!

Is no more than one page long

Is too long (a long letter won’t be read!)



Your CV or Resume

Your Curriculum Vitae (CV) or Resume is a summary of your education, work history and achievements. There is a difference between a CV and a resume:

  • A CV is a longer (at least two pages) and more detailed synopsis of your work history than a Resume;
  • A Resume is a one or two page summary of your skills, experience and education - a synopsis of your work history.

More experienced applicants tend to use a CV because they have more experience and achievements to list. A graduate or person with little experience is likely to use the Resume format. Regardless if you use the CV or Resume format, either document should include

  • Your name and contact details
  • Your educational details: name of qualification/s, year obtained,  and the institution
  • Details of professional memberships (e.g.: Associate Member, CPA Australia, 2012)
  • A summary of your work experience. This must include: your position title and company; the timeframe you were in the position (e.g.: July 2010-March 2013) a brief overview (2-3 sentences) of your job role –including your key responsibilities and whom (position) you reported to.
  • You should then list your major tasks (dot points) and your major achievements in that role. Listing achievements is important as employers will want evidence that you are driven, results-focussed, can finish tasks and can deliver beyond normal day-to-day expectations of a role, and can add enhanced value to their organisation;
  • Details of any professional development you have undertaken (name of course, date and institution)
  • Language skills (if you are bi or multi-lingual) and mention any certification or testing you have done) – some jobs (e.g.; community services or international trade firms desire or need bilingual employees). Language skills can also imply you have cross-cultural skills and cultural sensitivity;
  • A summary (list) of your hobbies and personal interests
  • Referee details

There is no one recommended style in which to format the above information. However a CV/Resume must catch the employers attention quickly, and an employer is only likely to spend approx 20-30 seconds  scanning your CV to determine if it is work reading further. Therefore it must:

  • Have consistent and standard size font (size 11-12)
  • Have clear headings
  • Use dot points to summarise information
  • Look professional – black on white paper – no colours, fancy fonts, borders, etc
  • Be easy to read – not too much text – use dot points, allow spacing with blank sections, otherwise you will overwhelm the reader;
  • Include only honest information – do not exaggerate, lie or invent positions you never had – employees will check or question you if in doubt;
  • Include relevant information related to your job search – for example, achievements you have should be reasonably current – a employer won’t be interested that you topped the third grade,– but will be interested  in your high school and higher education achievements;
  • Emphasise your strengths  - which  should be supported with examples to validate your claims;
  • May include a photo (passport sized)  of yourself in the top left-hand corner;
  • Referee details  - they must be people who are in a position to objectively comment on your work or educational experience – do not include relatives, friends or even co-workers  - most employees will want to speak to your workplace supervisor or a senior person at work, or a lecturer/Director of Higher Education etc who can speak objectively about your performance ) . An experienced recruiter will be able to determine the relationship very quickly!

The websites below can provide help and guidance on developing an attractive and informative CV, but are not definitive:

Selection criteria

All Australian government positions and positions in non-for-profit or educational institutions usually require candidates to address selection criteria. The criteria are a list of skills, qualifications and attributes required do to the advertised job, and the responses each candidate makes to the criteria are used, in addition to their CV/Resume, to determine if the candidate is suitable for the job and should be called for an interview.  These organisations will normally not interview you if you do not address the selection criteria.

Each selection criteria must be addressed separately and include:

  • A paragraph of HOW you meet EACH of the the criteria. You must mention examples of tasks you have completed to evidence your claims.

Most candidates follow the STAR method system of addressing selection criteria:

  • Situation - provide a brief outline of the situation or setting
  • Task - outline what you did
  • Approach or action - outline how you did it
  • Result - describe the outcomes.

Details on how to address selection criteria are available at:

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