How to respond to a job advertisement

You’ve finally found a job that really appeals to you. The responsibilities, remuneration package, and company all seem like the right fit. All that’s left to do is respond to the ad. Unfortunately, some people seem to think that this equates to pulling out a copy of their CV they last updated three years ago and slapping it into an email. All that will do is get your application put on the ‘toss out’ pile.

Here are a few pointers on getting your application to stand out from the boatloads likely to end up on the HR manager’s or your potential employer’s desk:

  • Read through the description of the role at least three Highlight what you think the most important requirements are, and record why you think you are able to meet them. Note the location of company. Are you sure you can get there on time in peak hour traffic, and are you willing to travel a greater distance (or even relocate) if it’s further away from your current workplace?
  • Study the responsibilities carefully. What are you absolutely required to do? Are there some responsibilities on the list you are not 100% comfortable with? If you aren’t sure about whether you can confidently carry some of them out, are you going to be honest about this in an interview? Remember that honesty is a vital aspect in every application. An employer will probably realise if you were dishonest when you are shortlisted for an interview, or, if you are hired, your limitations will soon become apparent – making for awkward office and team relations.
  • In addition to responsibilities, a job advert will provide a list of minimum (and thus essential) requirements. These are not negotiable – you either qualify for the position according to your ability to carry them out, or you don’t. If you do not meet these requirements, look at other adverts more suited to your experience and skill level.
  • The ‘additional requirements’ section offers you a chance to shine. Go through them carefully, and see how many apply to your skill set. The ones you meet offer great material for your cover letter.
  • Carefully consider the remuneration and benefits. Do the sums. Are you going to be in a better or worse financial position if you accept the job offer? If you’re prepared to take a salary cut then it’s best to consent to that now. Employers are unlikely to want to negotiate your salary and benefits package after your appointment, and even if they do, it may be a minimal concession. Know what you are in for, and make your decisions accordingly.
  • Perhaps one of the most important aspects of the advert is the actual process of sending through your application. Pay careful attention to every detail, and follow the instructions to the letter. If a one-page CV is required, submit a one-page CV. If additional documents are required, and if they need to be certified copies, make sure you provide them.

In short, responding to a job advertisement is a test in and of itself. Can you follow instructions? Do you pay attention to detail? Do you take the time to familiarise yourself with requirements before climbing into a task? If you can demonstrate these skills, your application stands a good chance of making it to the top of the pile.

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