The University of Newcastle, Australia

How to apply for a job

A well-written job application, including a polished resume, can give you the edge in a competitive job market. Making sure you are prepared when you meet an employer face-to-face at an interview or networking opportunity can help you persuade them that you have the right skills for their organisation and role.

Before you apply for any job, make sure your research helps you understand the employer’s needs and how your experience and skills relate to this. You should also check out our tips for resumes, job applications and interviews so that your contact with them is polished and professional.

Careers can check your completed job application documents, as well as your resume, through ‘Ask a Question’ or you can drop in to see us between 9am and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. If you are applying for a particular job, bring the ad with you.

You can also check out job application advice from employers at this year’s career expos.

Resumes

The best resumes are written to the specific needs of your industry and employer. A successful resume is targeted, succinct and well presented.

Creating a resume that will gain an employer’s attention takes time and effort. Research the industry or employer that you are applying to and then work on tailoring your resume so that it meets their needs. Many students find it useful to have a master resume that they use to store all of their experiences, skills and achievements and then choose from that document to create a targeted application.

Check out our Resume resources in CareerHub to help you get started.


Job applications

Job applications usually require documents written directly to the employer to accompany your resume. These can include cover letters and selection criteria statements, or may be in the form of brief expressions of interest or on-line applications.

Cover letters

Written applications should include a cover letter, which is your opportunity to express your unique claims to the role or company. When employers only request a resume, your email should serve as a cover letter.

To make a good impression, include the following sections:

  • your reason for writing
  • your interest in and knowledge of the organisation
  • relevant skills and experience in relation to the position or needs of the organisation
  • references to any documents you have enclosed
  • enthusiasm! Express a willingness for an interview

Our cover letter information sheet has a sample letter and more tips to help you create a winning pitch.

Selection criteria

Employers often include a set of requirements, or selection criteria, as part of their job advertisement. These are a clear indicator of the standards that will be used to measure one candidate against another and are a road map for your application.

Generally, private sector employers like their criteria to be addressed in your one-page cover letter, whereas public sector and not-for-profit employers expect a separate document addressing criteria in a formal style. Check with the employer if you are unsure.

Proving you meet selection criteria requires evidence. Follow the tips on our Selection Criteria Information sheet (PDF) for more information on how to write successful responses.

Expression of interest

Sometimes employers call for brief applications or expressions of interest (EOI) for short-term contracts. An EOI is a brief letter that summarises the reasons you are the best applicant, containing evidence that directly relates to the advertised job.

Our Expression of Interest information sheet covers off on the essentials.

Online applications

Online applications help employers create a database of applicants and are often used for large recruitment campaigns. Employers regularly apply ‘word search’ algorithms to help identify applications that contain key words and phrases that are relevant to their role.

To help complete an effective online application, check out our resource sheets in CareerHub


Interviews

The fact that you have been called for an interview means you have convinced the selection panel that you can meet their requirements for the job, which is a big plus.

Careers has a range of services to support your preparation for interview. You can send us your questions through ‘Ask a Question’ in CareerHub.

Interview preparation

To give yourself the best chance to perform well at interview, research the organisation and develop a full understanding of the role. Make sure you have confirmed the interview format, who you will be interviewed by and, most importantly, where you will be interviewed.

You should also prepare answers to possible questions – the job advertisement and selection criteria can provide strong clues to this – by immersing yourself in your past successes and strengths.  Check out our Interview Preparation information sheet for more hints on how to prepare.

It can also be helpful to talk to people who have been to interviews, look on the web for tips, and drop in to Careers to chat with our staff about effective preparation. Using the online tool, InterviewStream is another great way to prepare.  Check out the link below for lists of typical interview questions and work on your interview response skills.

InterviewStream Practice & review your interviews