Help – How do I improve my application success rate?

Dear Aunty,

I have been applying for lots of jobs but I have never been called for interview. What qualifications do employers look for or do they just look at how someone has written his/her CV and cover letter?

Do you you know if there is a negative relationship between performance and the way someone might express him/herself in the cover letter and CV?

Aunty says,

This is a common problem and I am pleased that you have chosen to write to me to obtain help. I hope that by helping you to understand the recruitment process I can answer your questions and help you improve your application success rate.

What do employers look for in an application?

Employers usually produce job advertisements or job descriptions that provide applicants with information as to what skills and experience should be contained in their job application. A little secret to remember is that employers will often score candidates against the criteria contained in the job advertisement – the candidates with the highest score are usually the ones invited to the interview stage. The scoresheet used by the employer will give points for qualifications and experience as well as how well someone has written his or her CV and cover letter.

How to increase your application success rate

If you are sending the same CV and cover letter for each job then you are relying on luck and hoping that somehow your application will meet the requirements provided in the job advertisement. Why not stack the odds more in your favour by clearly amending each CV and cover letter to clearly demonstrate how you meet the requirements in the job advertisement? This may mean that you spend more time applying for fewer jobs but it will greatly increase your chances of application success.

What does the employer scoresheet look like?

The scoresheet can be a simple table that allows the employer give score to each candidate for each criteria listed in the job advertisement. It may also provide additional space to score other requirements not stipulated in the job advertisement including spelling, grammar and presentation. The employer can then easily add up the scores and invite the applicants with the highest score to the interview stage.

Is there a relationship between application success rate and the way someone might express him/herself in the cover letter and CV?

The simple answer to this is – yes. As you can see from my points above – employers will often score your application against the criteria listed in the job advertisement. If you keep expressing yourself in a way that does not demonstrate how you meet the requirements stipulated in the job description then you are going to limit your chances of application of success.

I hope that this information will of use. You may also want to check out these great articles from Go Zambia Jobs by clicking on the links below:

I wish you all the best,


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