student with pen writing job application

Writing a job application

Learn how to write a competitive job application

Developing a strong application is the first step towards securing a job. Learn how to create a tailored resume and cover letter, and clearly address the selection criteria for the role.

Your job application is often your first contact with a potential employer. The key to developing a strong application lies in tailoring your documents specifically to the requirements of the role and the target organisation. Consider the application an opportunity to clearly demonstrate how your qualifications, skills, abilities and experience are a solid match for the role.

What should I include in my application?

Application requirements will vary from organisation to organisation, so read, understand and follow the instructions provided by the employer. They may ask for some or all of the following documents:

For emailed applications, you’ll need to write a short introduction within the body of the email and attach the requested documents. Your email should make it clear which job you are applying for and draw the reader’s attention to the attached documents. It’s also a good idea to include your contact details and let the employer know you are available for an interview. Do not duplicate your cover letter – keep it succinct.

Job application tips


Self-assessment involves thinking about your interests, values, skills and strengths, to identify the types of jobs and organisations that are right for you. Note your main strengths and the situations where you have developed or used those strengths. For example, you may have acquired strong verbal communication skills by giving presentations and working in a casual sales job. You’ll need to clearly articulate your relevant attributes in the job application.


Analyse the job ad. Most employers will use the job advertisement to explain what they are looking for in a candidate. The selection criteria (requirements for the role) may be clearly listed or ‘hidden’ within the text of the advertisement. Look for any keywords that denote skills, experience, education or attributes. Pay particular attention to repeated keywords or phrases.


Do your research so you understand what the organisation does and how it presents itself. Check its website for annual reports and information about services or products, values and mission statement, structure and culture. Use the University Library’s resource guide for researching organisations and industries, and search Factiva to find references to the organisation in the media. If possible, talk to people who work in your target organisation at a careers fairemployer event or information interview.  


Write a targeted application that is specific to the job role and organisation. Your application should reflect your interest in the employer and offer evidence that you meet the requirements of the role. Focus on the skills and attributes listed in the job advertisement or uncovered through your research when writing your application documents, and always provide proof of your skillset (ie, where/how you have developed/used that particular skill and for what outcome).


Follow employer instructions. Include all documents and information requested by the employer, and fill in all fields if you are applying via an online form. An incomplete application is unlikely to be considered. If you’re unsure about any aspects of the application procedure, contact the employer for more information.