The 5 Essential Elements of the Perfect Job Application

With unemployment fairly low, and the Irish job market red-hot, the power is in the hands of skilled workers – not employers. But that also means that other candidates are keeping their eyes open and ears to the ground when it comes to job opportunities.

So how can you get an edge over the competition?

For starters, your job application must be top notch. Of course, interviewing is a great way to make a lasting impression, but how do you get in the door? A recruiter's first impression is based entirely on your job application, so let's talk about a few relatively simple and often overlooked steps you can take to perfect your application and fill your calendar with interviews.

Well-Researched Cover Letter

A cover letter is your chance to introduce yourself to the company and convince them that they need to interview you. Always avoid sending a copy-paste form cover letter. Sending the same letter to 50 companies is insincere and HR will notice. Grab the attention of the company and don't let it go! Keep your cover letter concise, company-specific, and honest.

In your letter, explain why you would be an asset to the company. Research your desired position and determine how your expertise would benefit the company. Give a brief synopsis of your professional experience and try to make it relevant to the desired position. General knowledge about the company itself can also demonstrate a high level of interest. Keep your language professional and be sure to proofread it at least once before hitting “Send.”

An Up-To-Date Resume

After carefully crafting the perfect cover letter, review your resume. Applying with a resume that does not have all of your experiences or contain the correct contact information for your past employers is a waste of everyone’s time. Be sure to include the following for every past employer:

  • Job title
  • Location of employment
  • Month and year you were employed by the company
  • Detailed list of job responsibilities

To assist with the daunting process of creating a resume from scratch, try to keep your job description from your previous or current employer. You can use their own list of job responsibilities for your resume and save your own precious time. There are several websites around the internet that can provide basic job descriptions, too, if you are feeling particularly lazy.

Also, be sure to explain all gaps in employment that are longer than 30 days. Note the total time of your unemployment and reason for unemployment in your resume and don’t be too embarrassed. It happens to everyone and approaching it honestly is always the best policy.

Relevant Experience

Yes, the sky is the limit when it comes to career options but remember to be realistic. If a position description states that the ideal candidate must possess 3 to 5 years of experience but you are entry level, don't waste your time. Employers are seeking the best fit for their company.

If you feel hesitant to apply because you don't meet specific criteria, even though you have several years of employment behind you, remember that certain skill sets do cross over from one industry to the next. For example, if you worked in Human Resources you could easily apply to positions in a customer service industry because many of the same principles apply. Your cover letter is the perfect place to explain exactly why you applied for this specific positon despite a lack of direct experience.

Google Yourself

You probably don’t normally consider what kind of internet presence you have, but when you start applying for jobs, you should. Open a search engine, input your name and pull up a list of things you wouldn’t want anyone else to see, clean it up or lock it down.

You can request images of yourself be removed from certain sites and set your social media pages to private, but take a close look at your profile pictures. Your potential employers can see that weird thong picture just like everyone else can.

Recent References

When you go to your interview, have at least three professional references ready to go in case the employer requests them. Prior to interviewing, reach out to all potential references and ask if they would be willing to provide a reference for you in the near future. Giving your references a heads up has several benefits:

  • Gives them an idea of which skills to highlight
  • Makes sure they are available
  • Verifies that they remember you
  • It’s a chance to update the reference’s contact information

As a general rule of thumb, if you have not worked with the person for over 2 years, do not list them as a reference.


Applying for an open position in a company has changed dramatically over the past few decades, and with so many applicants, being just like everyone else will not be enough to land your dream job. These tips will help you be a step above your competition and land you securely in Ireland’s job market.