ApplicationJob seeking

Mastering job ap­plic­a­tions

It can be challenging to write an application that stands out. Please find advice on how to make a professional application step-by-step, including length, layout, and structure.

Writing an application is a discipline – a handicraft. As with any serious handicraft, you have to take the task seriously to succeed.

What is often demanding when writing an application is to get a good grip on the position and the workplace. If you do, your targeted application will be worth reading. With simple steps, I promise that writing an application should not take 5-10 hours. But preparing for the task may take a long time.

Sometimes it's a good application that gives you a ticket to a job interview. Other times, the employer doesn’t read it at all, because the CV didn’t do the job. Or the application wasn’t read because the CV was already enough to give you a ticket to the job interview.

Do you need to submit an application?

If the application isn’t read anyway, then do you need to submit an application? The short answer is no. If you are sending your CV to a specific job, and you are spot-on, then no. But a good application allows you to show your real interest and your commitment.

You have had to link your qualifications and competencies to the company's needs. With an application, you get the opportunity to elaborate on your situation, motivation, qualifications, and gaps or unique advantages.

Lastly, even though you may not be a perfect match for the job ad’s requirements, explain it in the application and tell why you are the right one for the job anyway.

An additional benefit of preparing a good targeted application is that you have already done most of your preparations when you are called in for a job interview.

The good application step-by-step

How do you begin a good application? One take is to follow these six simple steps:

  1. Read the job ad carefully.
  2. Identify the 2-3 most important competencies that are highlighted in the job ad – or call and ask what is need-to-have and what is nice-to-have.
  3. Write 1-2 sentences about why this is your dream job, i.e. your motivation.
  4. Prepare a competency section with 1-3 sentences about each of the 2-3 most important competencies including examples and perspective to the job.
  5. Formulate 1-2 sentences about how you will be part of the social context.
  6. Conclude why we should meet.

Content, length, and layout

Remember that your application is forward-looking; your CV looks-back except for the profile text. Typically, an application should not be more than one A4 page. Try to ensure a common thread in your layout and language in both your application and your CV. For example, It can be the same font, color choice, and location of contact info and portrait.

Application template

You may practice using Jobindex's application machine. Insert your own text, and it will generate an example of a personal job application.

Example of a good application

Here is an application that illustrates the recommended structure.

This article is part of a series that gives advice based on the book Jobjagt.

In Jobjagt, Birgit O’Sullivan shares her experience about hunting for a job. She has many years of experience with recruitment for startups and international businesses in Denmark and abroad.

The book is available at bookstores and online or can be borrowed at the library. Read more about the book Jobjagt here:

Contact Birgit O’Sullivan, O’Sullivan Consulting at

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