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How to write an application

What do career starters, career changers, and experienced employees have in common? You guessed it right! They all need to make an active effort to write a convincing application. It doesn't matter whether you're looking to change jobs or are just starting out in your career. The crucial factor is that your application must be persuasive. After all, you want to convince potential employers of your qualities. In this guide, you will learn how to write a successful application.

I. Font size & typeface: Choose wisely

Let's be honest, have you already considered which font size and typeface are the best? Although the topic may seem simple at first glance, it often leads to confusion. So, before you start your application, think about the following points.

Size matters: The optimal font size for your application

For body text, we recommend a font size between 10 and 12, which guarantees pleasant readability without overwhelming the text. For headings, you have a little more flexibility - they should be between 14 and 16. This provides your application with a clear structure while ensuring that your readers perceive the headings as such. Pro tip: Ensure that the headlines do not appear too dominant, as it may disrupt the reading flow of your application!

Stylish application: The perfect typeface

When choosing your typeface, prioritize professionalism and legibility. Here are the top 3 favorites of the Empion editorial team:

  1. Arial: Sans-serif, clean, and easy to read - a great choice for modern and professional applications!
  2. Calibri: Sans-serif, elegant, and professional - a popular choice among applicants!
  3. Verdana: Sans-serif, specifically recommended for display on screens - Are you submitting your application online? Then Verdana is the ideal typeface for you!

If you're wondering about serifs, serif fonts such as Times New Roman have small embellishments at the end of the letters. This gives them a more traditional and formal appearance. Our top 3 fonts are all sans-serif, which provides a modern feel and is a popular choice in creative and technical industries.

Once you have made a decision on the font, the most important thing is to remain consistent and avoid using too many different fonts in your application.

Pro tip: If you are applying in a more conservative industry like banking or law, you can also opt for Times New Roman as your font.

II. The structure of an application

Now that you have chosen your font and the right font size, you can begin writing your application. When crafting an application, you should generally focus on the following three aspects.

Cover letter: Contemporary or extinct?

Admittedly, the relevance of a cover letter in a job application has diminished over the years. Even hiring managers have reached the point of welcoming applications without a cover letter. If it is not explicitly required in the job advertisement, you can theoretically omit the cover letter. The mindset is: If you write a poor cover letter, it is better not to include one at all. However, bear in mind that not all industries accept applications without a cover letter. Many companies still insist on it. In such cases, utilize the cover letter to truly showcase yourself and persuade the HR department of your merits.

Resume: The heart of your application

Your resume is the star of your application! You have two common formats to choose from: the chronological and the functional resume. With the chronological resume, you list your experience in reverse order, starting with your current or most recent position. The functional resume, on the other hand, focuses on your skills and accomplishments, regardless of chronological order. The format you choose depends on you and the requirements of the job you are seeking.

Pro tip: What many applicants forget is that, like your cover letter, your resume can be tailored. Customize your qualifications to the job posting. Consider what is important to the potential employer and identify comparable activities that you can highlight in your resume.

Other documents and attachments

When selecting the appropriate attachments for your application, it is important to think strategically. Always ask yourself: What is the hiring manager truly interested in? Focus on the essentials. Why? No one has the time to go through an extensive application. Additionally, it demonstrates your ability to get to the point.

Similarly, there are no fixed rules regarding which attachments must be included in your application. Depending on where you are in your career, you will have to decide which attachment best highlights your application. Nevertheless, the following attachments are commonly welcome in an application:

  1. Diplomas and certificates: Official proof of your education, degrees, training, and other qualifications.
  2. References: Letters of recommendation or contact information from individuals who can attest to your professional competence, such as former supervisors or colleagues.
  3. Samples of Work: If possible, include examples of your past work that illustrate your skills and accomplishments, such as designs or presentations.

III. The application photo

The application photo serves one primary purpose: to create a positive first impression. An attractive and appropriate application photo can capture the employer's interest and increase your chances of being invited for an interview. However, is including an application photo still relevant?

Application photo: Yes or no?

In reality, this question sparks controversy. Some employers prefer applications with a photo as it provides a visual impression of the candidate. Others strictly reject application photos to avoid potential prejudice or discrimination. In your case, it's essential to research industry-specific standards and the company's culture.

Choosing the best application photo

If you decide to include an application photo, it must be professional. After all, you want to highlight your best qualities, and a likeable photo can enhance that. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Industry: Your application photo should align with the position you are applying for and the company's image.
  • Attire & Appearance: Maintain a well-groomed and professional appearance. Ensure you have a suitable hairstyle, makeup (if applicable), and a friendly facial expression.
  • Photographer vs. Self-portrait: While it's advisable to have a professional photographer take your application photo, you can achieve good results with good lighting and the right background (calm and neutral) using your smartphone.

Writing an application: Structuring is key

Now you have learned that writing an application is most effective when it is well-structured. Preparation is crucial. In concrete terms, this means selecting the appropriate font size and typeface, following a clear structure with a compelling cover letter and a resume that captivates recruiters. A well-chosen application photo can truly set you apart from the competition.