If you want to be attractive for the job market, you have to follow the trends. What was the cover letter like again? What should I include in my CV? And does the whole thing also come in nice? Sure. We’ll show you what’s important in addition to the usual application rules and how you can stand out from the crowd. This is how to apply correctly.
What awaits you in this article is the following:
- Dos & Don’ts at the letter of application
- Pay attention to recruiters
- Application trends 2019
- What is behind the social media presence of employers?
- Tips for your application video
- Preparation for the interview
- Checklist for your perfect application documents + free download
Most applications end up in the wastepaper basket
If an attractive position is advertised, countless applications end up at a company. In most cases, the recruiter has neither the time nor the opportunity to take a close look at all the incoming applications. In order to get through this “screen of the first preselection” you should not try to attract attention just somehow, but positively. Read the job advertisement carefully and try to highlight all the interfaces between you and the employer. In the first sentence of the cover letter, explain briefly and precisely why you in particular are suitable for this job. Or put differently: Arouse the reader’s curiosity. How can this be achieved?
What you shouldn’t do:
- Don’t use trite phrases and phrases.
- They do not arouse curiosity, but rather have a soporific effect. Because you are guaranteed not to stand out from the crowd.
- Don’t go into the obvious, such as where you became aware of the job and that it interests you.
- The golden rule: spelling mistakes are an absolute no-go and usually an exclusion criterion for personnel managers.
That’s how you do it right:
- If there has already been contact (telephone call, fairs, etc.) with the company or the contact person, make the reference. If you know the name, so much the better – speak directly to the recruiter.
- Explain why you are a candidate for the job.
- Underpin your arguments with previous professional experience, skills and what else could make you interesting for this position.
- Introduce yourself briefly and underline your interest and skills.Use a maximum of one A4 page for the cover letter.
- By mail: choose a suitable subject. You can already take the first step to stand out from the competition. So don’t be shy and be creative.
- Name all attached documents correctly and with your name. This will make the job easier for the recruiters and they will certainly be grateful to you.
- Use a scanned signature in the greeting formula.
No-Go: the same cover letter for all jobs
Application rule #1: Never send the same application to multiple companies you are seriously interested in. No employer wants to know everything you’ve ever done in your life or what you can do. His time is limited. That’s why: Filter out the information relevant to the job and highlight exactly these attributes. The application should finally show why you are the right person for the job.
Checklist: Have you considered everything?
- Pay attention to a clear and concise form
- Appealing layout
- Meaningful and professional photo
- Communicating the most important facts briefly, concisely and crisply
- Justify precisely why you are perfect for the job already in the first sentence
- Communicating your own strengths in a meaningful way
- Pay attention to spelling and grammar – even small mistakes or carelessness say something about you and your style of work
- Get valuable input from outside: Have your application read by as many neutral people as possible before you send it out.
Curriculum vitae: professional & individual
First and foremost, your application should be professionally designed. However, since “professional” alone is usually not enough, it is important to stand out from the competition with an individual touch. It is up to you to find out what is feasible in the industry or at the employer.
Individual means that your application corresponds to your nature. This is possible in terms of colour, graphics and choice of words. Do not describe your special strengths with standard phrases. It is better to express your own strengths with the application. In plain language: It is very easy to indicate “accuracy” or “creativity” as a positive characteristic. The decisive factor is how your strengths and personality are reflected in the application. If, for example, there are spelling mistakes in your application or the design was downloaded from the first website, it is more likely that you it will not reflect your personality. As said: Express yourself and be yourself!
Recruiters pay attention to this when screening applications
How much time does a recruiter take for my application? What is more important: a complete curriculum vitae or outstanding design? Questions that every applicant has dealt with more than once.
Collect plus points
Applicants do not have much time for the first impression. Around 40% of recruiters invest a maximum of 5 minutes for the first applicant check. Clarity and structure are therefore the key to attracting positive attention. A uniform structure is probably one of the reasons why the trend towards online applications continues: More than half of the HR professionals prefer an application via online forms or career websites. Almost one fifth now accepts one-click applications. And the trend is rising.
For 99% of recruiters, a CV is the be-all and end-all of an application. It is important to recognize as quickly as possible whether an applicant is a suitable candidate for the position. Be sure to include this in your curriculum vitae: Training, professional experience and – very importantly – other qualifications that make you indispensable for the job advertised. 87% attach great importance to good clarity and the structure of an application. So design the core part of your application according to the principle: compact, clear and crisp. Certificates and cover letters are very important for a good two-thirds of applicants.
Once again, it is clear that if you want to score points in your application, you should first take care of the duty and then the freestyle. An unusual design or work samples cannot eliminate faux pas such as incorrect spelling.
K.O. criteria for recruiters
The most frequent and at the same time most embarrassing mistake in an application: incorrect spelling. Sure, nobody is a walking dictionary, yet mistakes are punished severely. For 60% of HR staff, a faulty application goes straight to the trash.
HR managers can see at a glance where there are gaps in the CVs. For almost half of recruiters, an unjustified gap is directly a knock-out criterion. So explain what you did during your time-out. You should also have a suitable answer ready before a possible job interview. We still recommend: #bebravewithyourbreak
The study also shows how important the individual note of the cover letter is. A standard letter means the end for 42% of the personnel. When a wrong contact person or company is named, 54% of recruiters even say: “Thank you, that’s it.
Candidate check on the net
The “profile check” in social media is nothing new for personnel managers and applicants. To ensure that the digital cat-and-mouse game does not end badly for the latter, the profiles should be maintained accordingly. The first port of call for recruiters is Google. 6 % state that they “google” every applicant at least once. On Facebook, 3% inform themselves. More than one tenth of these checks result in a rejection.
Faster to work? The One-Click-Application
If we’re already in social media: Job networks offer a lot of innovations in the area of job applications. The one-click application is particularly attractive for applicants. With just one click on the corresponding button, you can transfer your profile directly into the database of the desired company – without leaving the social network.
LinkedIn offers, for example, a “Apply here” button for job advertisements in its own job exchange. This allows you to leave it up to the company to decide whether you are of interest to them. Exciting – and above all time-saving for you. But before you present your digital self to the companies, make sure that your profile is optimally designed.
Mobile recruiting and new communication channels
Most of us use their smartphones or tablets to search for jobs or find the latest vacancies on corporate sites. This also creates new ways of communicating: Do you have questions about the job? Just send a short message via WhatsApp. Drive far for an interview and then go away empty-handed? It’s a thing of the past. The job interview via Skype is becoming more and more common as both you and the HR department save time. So don’t be shy when the company offers you new ways to go: Because many recruiters are probably damn proud that they’ve come up with something completely innovative. So give it a chance when it comes to you.
Recruiting games – get to know each other in a playful way
Your application has passed the first check by the HR department? Then you will receive a link to a small recruiting game. There you have to solve tasks and answer questions, which are mostly asked by nice comic figures in corporate colors. More and more companies are integrating online games into their application process.
Even if it may shock you, in many cases you don’t really play games at all. The so-called recruiting games are often tests, peppered with some storytelling, and are nothing more than an online assessment center. Either missing facts should be asked or your problem solving skills should be tested. Getting to know each other is usually the most important thing – after all, the company wants to know exactly what you can do and bring along. Such games offer an excellent option. It’s quite possible that you’ll come across recruiting games more often when you’re looking for a job in 2019.
Short profiles on the advance
Time is money. And what do companies rarely have too much of? That’s right. Personnel managers want to see at a glance whether a candidate has the potential to take a closer look at him. More and more applicants are adjusting to this and are providing an additional document in addition to the usual cover letter and curriculum vitae. Alternatively, it can also be sent as a harbinger of the actual application: A short profile on a maximum of one page should serve as an appetizer. You can present your most important stations and skills in a short version – a short CV, so to speak. Don’t just talk about it, concentrate on the essentials. For this reason, short profiles are definitely on the rise.
Find your perfect match: That is behind the Social Media appearance of employers
Social media doesn’t just give recruitern insights into your life – you can also turn the tables on them. In addition to rating platforms, Facebook, Instagram & Co are becoming increasingly popular to get a first impression of potential employers. Find out what’s behind the employers’ social media presence.
Social media play a central role in the external image of companies. Channels like Instagram are perfect for taking a look behind the scenes. Impressions from everyday work or pictures of events have a right to exist here. Postings with provided suit photos and those that would also fit in any image folder create a powerful impression, but have no real added value. They only show what you already knew about the company: Everything here is really super-serious – everyday working life also smells suspiciously like a large corporation.
The exact opposite of the perfectly staged social media profile is the chaotic variant. Here are job advertisements in various designs next to motivational slogans and blurred pictures of the last company event. What becomes clear from this confusion: Here there is a lack of a well thought-out social media strategy. For applicants this is certainly an important hint. After all, “Let’s do it somehow” is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Social media has become one of the most important marketing channels for companies. Channels filled with advertising are no longer uncommon. But especially in the competition for the right employees at least one channel should do justice to the strategy of employee recruiting. If all channels are paved with advertising simultaneously, this often indicates that employer branding has a subordinate role in the company. Questions about the role of the employees and the benefits are definitely appropriate here. Hopefully the answer will be more than a cheap advertising slogan.
If the look at the social media channels is almost too good to be true, there is unfortunately still some bad news: #nobodyisperfect. If everyday working life is presented as perfect from all sides, everyone is happy and happy around the clock, not only does it look less authentic – it’s usually not. Overused publicity is often used to distract from weaknesses. Here, too, caution is better than being neglected.
Tips on how to apply correctly
Picture instead of black on white – and an application video to stand out
For you, applying means working for hours on a motivation letter? And then one rejection after the other? Before you throw in the towel, try an application video. You’re guaranteed to make the leap into the long-term memory of HR professionals. Because only around 7% of all job seekers include their CV and letter of application with a filmic self-presentation. And this despite the fact that around 90% of all recruiters would be happy to receive an application video.
We’ll show you five things you should consider.
#1 Help HR help you!
Just like a police inspector, Inspector HR is looking forward to new cases. It’s nothing new that he likes to put his snooping nose into personnel files. With your strengths and skills as a little treat, you can guide him through your application video. Think carefully about what makes you the optimal candidate and use the possibilities that a film offers you. Show them why you are a valuable young hopper or why you are the super-opian with the extra portion of professional experience. But it is authentic in any case. But when you pretend, it stands out negatively. Only if you are yourself will you be sympathetic to any recruiting specialist.
#2 Be unique!
You think a standard video in which you give an eulogy to yourself is enough? To string application phrases together and hope for the best is clearly the wrong way. Whether you appear in your video as a news presenter or master confectioner is up to you. However, you should always consider which industry you are applying in. As a lawyer, you won’t enjoy as much freedom as a creative advertising head.
#3 A good plan is the most important prop!
In order not to look like a chaos actor in front of your cameraman, you need good preparation. Because as Lucretius always said: “Nothing comes from nothing”. Nevertheless, your script shouldn’t be too long, because the first rule says: The spice lies in the brevity! As a good guideline you can consider about 90 seconds of video length. You should also consider a location for your shoot and make sure that nothing distracts in the background. Dress up like a diva? Really not. Put on an outfit that you could put on for an interview. But beware: don’t put anything on that is chequered! This confuses the camera and creates a blurred picture.
#4 Plus points collect with a smile
As Grandma has always said, “laughter is the best medicine”, because it simply lowers your stress and gives you a few more happiness hormones that make you more relaxed and self-confident. By the way, this trick also helps you with salary negotiations, but we’re not that far in the application process yet. Before you start, you should think about a text for your video. If you don’t have exactly what you want to say in your head beforehand, the oh-I-just-forgot will hit and you start stammering. Once you should also emulate your grandmother on this point: Talking with hands and feet. Have the courage to gesticulate calmly, this will make you look more natural!
#5 It’s a match – creativity meets quality
I get it, your application video isn’t gonna be a Hollywood or Bollywood blockbuster. So be satisfied with an amateur video? No. In order to give the Tinder love between you and your recruiter a chance, pay attention to quality. A nice foreground makes the overall impression much more realistic. Sufficient light makes you look more vivid and natural. If you stand in the middle of a room, you will be perceived as competent and safe to lead. Enough with the smart-arse? Finally, a little professional tip: If the sunlight is reflected in your eyes, viewers will find you much more likeable. And who can resist a sympathetic super-candidate who is ready for the next work adventure?
How to best prepare for an interview
You already gave your best when you wrote your letter of motivation, maybe even shot an application video and now the longed-for invitation to an interview has finally arrived. Of course, you don’t want to do anything wrong, after all, you really want the job. The first step in the right direction? Begins before the interview. Inform yourself about the company, prepare yourself for the interview and think about possible questions and answers. Find out here what else is important when preparing for an interview.
Questions after questions
From questions where you think “Is he really asking them right now?” to standard questions, you usually find everything in interviews. Nevertheless, one can prepare oneself for certain favourite recruiter. What are your strengths and weaknesses? Why exactly would you like to work in this company? How do you imagine your future field of activity? Questions that usually require a little brooding. That’s why you should think about it in advance and think about authentic answers. In no case, however, should you forget the question of all questions: “Do you still have questions for us? Think about a few points in advance that you would like to know more about, such as these six questions that you can ask at the end of your interview.
Study curriculum vitae
“What did you do in the summer of 2015?” – Well, good question, what did you do? Alarm level: red. If you have to dive into your grey cells to remember all the things you’ve done in your professional life, it certainly doesn’t make a good impression on your counterpart. Go through your CV a few times before your interview, try to remember the time periods and, if you really are one of the Alzheimer candidates, print out your CV. If you put it on the table together with the other documents, it’s not only an inconspicuous cheat sheet, but also looks as if you’ve simply printed out your application documents again to be on the safe side. By the way: If you still have to create your resume, you’ll find some inspiration here!
Be a precise
A slogan that the bank consultant always wants to persuade us should also be your motto in the interview. Because even if it seems as if he is in an eternal chatty mood, your interviewer most likely has more appointments after your interview. Therefore, formulate your answers briefly and crisply, mention what is necessary, but don’t tell too little. Think in advance about what you want to focus on in your little self-presentation. Your last job is actually irrelevant for the new job? Then gain time by keeping your last employer rather short and rather catch up with the rest of your work experience.
Get insights on job portals
Every second applicant is informed about their potential new company on employer assessment platforms. Why? Quite simply, nobody knows better than the employees themselves! Of the thousands of companies rated on job portals, your future employer is almost certainly among them, and those ratings can give you an authentic picture of how the big boss really is. Suddenly you find topics like a “company run”, “difficulties with the works council” or “heat-free” in the individual experience reports? Well, that’s a perfect question to ask during the application process. On top of that, it shows your potential employer that you have thoroughly dealt with the company in advance and that you are really interested in the job.
Who is who?
Of course, before an interview everyone has an excited tingling sensation in their stomach. But what makes us so nervous? On the one hand, it’s certainly the uncertainty that you don’t know exactly what to expect. An older man, a young HR star? These question marks in your head can be easily removed – by research! Career networks such as LinkedIn offer you the ideal space for extensive snooping: Simply enter the name and company of your interviewer in the search and you will have a picture and the entire CV of your interviewer in front of you. If you know what is waiting for you, the nervousness will ease somewhat and you will no longer stand with an “AHA experience” in the door frame of your interview room.
Plan your outfit
Sounds like advice from a fashion magazine? But it is not – or at least not exclusively! Because no matter how hard your HR manager tries, the first impression of an applicant is always best remembered. Of course, your outfit is one of them, and on top of that, it reveals whether you are a cultural fit in the company. Casual start-up or corporate giant? Blue jeans or a suit? Get an idea of what the corporate culture of your object of desire looks like beforehand and put on an appropriate outfit. If you come in High Heels for an interview for a gardener’s job, it’s probably self-explanatory that your chances for the new job are on the decline.
Step by step to check off: Checklist for perfect application documents
If you discover an exciting job advertisement, a thousand things come to your mind: Am I already too late for an application? What does the HR manager expect from me? How can I convince? Not only do you invest a lot of time, you also give your best not to make any mistakes. Unfortunately, the little devils always sneak in – and you notice it when you have already sent the application. To make sure that this doesn’t happen to you, we have put together a checklist with the most important points for you to tick off.
- Cover page (including an overview of what is included in the application folder)
- Application letter (here applies: the wort lies in the brevity)
- Curriculum Vitae
- Certificates of training or further education (if required)
- Employer’s reference
- Sender (with name, address, e-mail, telephone number)
- Date (optionally with location)
- Recipient (including company name, name of contact person and address)
- Subject (be sure to state the title of the advertisement)
- Salutation (with name if the name of the contact person is known)
- Creative introduction that arouses the interest of the staffer
- Clarify the question why you would like to apply to this company exactly
- short presentation of your own profile (possibly with additions to your curriculum vitae)
- Indication of relevant skills, work experience and recommendations
- Salary expectation (if required)
- Conclusion (including a note that you are looking forward to a conversation/feedback)
- Greeting formula and signature
- List the names of the documents at the end of the appendix.
- Personal data (name, birthday, address)
- Application photo (not mandatory, but recommended)
- Career (beginning with the current position)
- Education and training
- Special qualifications (certificates, languages, continuing education)
- Interests (hobbies, involvement with associations and Co.)
- Date and signature
Control at the end
- Uniform formatting (not too extravagant, otherwise resume scanners will fail)
- Key terms from the advertisement appear in the cover letter (increase the interest of
- The personnel)
- Check for correct spelling or have someone else proofread it
- Check if the address is consistent (you, you)
- Contact person of the last application deleted (if you have reused an old template)
- If it is an online application, check if you have converted all documents into PDFs