Follow the procedure for applying described in the job advert. Some companies ask candidates to apply with a CV and a covering letter. Others provide an application form that should be completed fully.
Always make the application in the language of the advertisement, unless indicated otherwise.
If possible, personalise your application: find out the name of the individual conducting the selection - this may be a human resources (HR) officer or a department manager - and address your application to them.
Keep a record of the vacancies you have applied for, as you will need this if the employer contacts you.
Making contact by phone
If necessary, phone the company for details of how to apply, for an application form or to get a contact name so you can address your application letter to the right person.
When calling about a particular job, explain whether you are calling for more information or to actually apply for the job. If the timing of the call is not convenient, ask for a more appropriate time to ring back. Speak clearly and briefly to show that you have prepared the call. If you are calling from abroad, make this known. Indicate if you would prefer to conduct the call in your own or another (foreign) language.
Prepare a short, clear presentation of yourself explaining why you are suitable for the job and try to make an appointment for a face-to-face interview. Avoid a noisy background, especially if you are calling from a mobile phone.
Be prepared to write down any information you receive over the phone.
Make an 'on spec' application
If making a spontaneous application in writing, be persuasive. You need to convince the employer that meeting you will be worth their time. Your grammar and spelling should be perfect and the tone of your letter should be positive and compelling.
Start by specifying the kind of role you are interested in and detail the skills, knowledge and experience you have that are likely to match what the employer is looking for. Then provide other information about your background that is likely to stimulate their interest. Mention your availability too. And keep your letter concise.
CV and covering letter
The CV can be general, although it is always better to target it to each application.
The covering letter is not just a letter accompanying a CV; it must be personal, relevant and attract attention. Use the national format and standards for a letter - find these out in advance.
Your letter must always be tailored to a particular vacancy, be signed and give the reasons why you are applying. Include the correct address of the company, the date, the job you are applying for, information on where you found the job advertisement, what you can offer (qualifications, work and other experience), a request for a personal interview and your name and correct contact details. If you do not have a contact name to write to at the company, address your correspondence (e-mail or letter) to 'Dear Sir or Madam'.
Highlight why you are suitable for the job in question and describe what you will contribute to the company. Address the most important requirements mentioned in the job advertisement, using your own words to show how you meet them. Focus on what you can offer to the employer and how joining the company will help them (rather than on how getting the job will help you).
Want to stand out? Then research the company before you apply. Find out about its people and culture, locations at home and abroad, size of the workforce and future strategy. Look for details about the company in the trade press as well as on the company's own website to get the bigger picture (their competitors, state of the market, local economic factors).
Pay attention to presentation: a clear layout for your letter and CV is essential. The European format Europass CV is widely used in some countries, but not in all - refer to the country sections in this booklet for specific advice.
Make your documents easy to read and tidy, to appeal to the employer. Avoid animation or fancy design, unless this is a requirement of the job.
Sell your skills: besides your education, training and professional experience, add details of skills gained during voluntary activities or hobbies. Confirm if you have a driving licence, which languages you speak (and to what level) and what IT and other skills you have.
Photographs: in some countries it is standard to send a photo with a job application. In others it is not advisable. Refer to the country sections in this booklet for advice.
Avoid using a jokey or humorous e-mail address or cryptic subject line. Do not send your application from your current employer's e-mail system or by mass mail. Fill in the subject line with the name of the position you are applying for.
Keep them to a minimum and avoid sending large files. If your application is a covering letter and a CV or application form, write a brief cover note in the e-mail message describing the attachments to the e-mail. The CV and covering letter should usually be sent as attachments (check country sections in this booklet for specific advice).
Make sure you answer all the questions if there is an application form to be completed.
Waiting for a reply
It is not unusual to receive no reply to your application if the employer is not interested in your profile.