Hit the bullseye with your job applications

Contrary to what many people think, the volume of your applications is not the best indicator of your likelihood of gaining an interview. I have worked with many jobseekers who are mystified as to why they are not hitting the mark with their many applications. Their thinking goes like this:  ’The more applications I make the more likely it is that one of my applications will be successful.’

This scatter gun approach will not work.  

Like an archer carefully aiming his arrow towards the bullseye, a far more effective approach is to target each application to the vacancy.

So what do I mean by ‘a targeted approach’?  

  • Tailoring your CV

Most people will just have one CV that they use for all applications. However, there are likely to be differences in the recruiter’s requirements no matter what the job is. It’s up to you to match your skills and experience as closely to the vacancy as closely as possible. Before you throw up your hands in despair, let me reassure you that this does not mean changing your whole CV for every   application!

What you can do to improve your chances:

  • Make sure your CV contains all the likely key words. Most recruiters now use applicant tracking software for the first sift of CVs. The ones that get through this process are the ones that are then read by a human being. Key words could be relevant skills, qualifications, industries, job titles and so on. Your first action should be to highlight the most likely words on the job description and make sure they are in your CV.


  • Make sure the most important information is instantly available. Research has shown that the recruiter pays most attention to the first half of the first page of the CV, and will move on quickly if there isn’t something there of immediate interest. This means making changes to your personal profile and your key skills section, which should be the first two sections of the CV.  You do not have to make changes to the whole CV – i.e. to the Employment History or Qualifications section.


  • If you’re asked for a covering letter, then make sure you include one. And ensure it is tailored to the vacancy.  

Not including a covering letter when it is requested is one of the reasons for rejection by a recruiter. But a covering letter should not be pages long and full of lengthy, woolly paragraphs.

Rather, it needs to concisely set out any requested information and be sufficient to convince the recruiter that it’s worth opening your CV. For example:

Opening paragraph (where you saw the vacancy)

I am responding to the vacancy posted on [name of site] for a Customer Services Manager. I am attaching my CV.

Second paragraph    (3-4 bullet points of skills and experience relevant to the job you are going for.)

As you will see from my attached CV my skills and experience include:

  • Four years’ experience in customer services with……………….
  • Good communication and customer care skills……..
  • Line management of five staff

Third paragraph (why you are interested in working for this company)

I am very interested in working for [name of company] as I have a particular interest in [match your interests to what the company does – e.g. it makes ethical skin care products etc…………].

Final paragraph and sign off

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss my experience with you in more detail and look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours sincerely/faithfully


3 ) Application forms- what to include in the ‘About You’ section

The most important section of the application form is usually the last section ‘About you’ or ‘Further Information’. Often people are stumped as to what to include in this section. This is where you make a convincing case as to why the recruiter should consider you.

But how should you organise this?  Highlight the key sections of the job description and person specification and use these as headings in the ‘About You’ section. Then describe how you meet these criteria.

For example:

 Level three accounting qualification

I passed AAT level 3 with distinction at Mid Herts College in 2016

At least 2 years’ accounting experience preferably in the charities sector

For the last 5 years I have worked in the accounts department of the Alzheimers’ Society where I was responsible for …….

The recruiter will then be able to quickly see how you meet the requirements of the job. They will also thank you for making their lives easier!!


Let’s face it – looking for a job is a chore. Most of us can think of other things we would rather be doing than sitting at a computer doing job applications.

But you are far better making fewer, well crafted, targeted applications than you are churning out  hundreds of applications like scattered seeds that never fall on fertile  ground.

Taking the time to tailor your application will have a massive impact in the level of interest you generate with recruiters. Believe me, it’s worth it!

If you feel I can be of any help with your applications, please select the ‘Winning Applications’ option  from the Services/Coaching Options menu on my website.


Or get in touch via the Contact Page.