Let's be clear right away: a template application where you have just changed the company's name for ten different applications, will soon be seen as such and ignored. You must make sure that you tailor each new application for the specific position and the company you are applying for a job.

Show what you have to offer

The essence of an application is that the reader receives a concise demonstration of why you want the job, what you can offer the company and why it is you should be chosen for the job. It takes practice and re-drafting to clearly show that your skills match what the company are looking for and provide strong evidence for those skills. 

Be sure to answer these three questions in your application

1. Why did you choose to apply to this job at this business?

Describe your motivation and ideally your justification for that motivation. 

The financial analyst position particularly appealed to me because of the level of responsibility you offer and the opportunity to work with a team that is recognized for its strength in exotic structured funds, an area I am keen to specialize in after focusing on these investments during my master’s thesis. Having interned for your sister company, I am confident that you offer a similarly dynamic and challenging work environment, in which I would be successful…

2. How do your strengths match what the company is looking for?

While showing you understand the nature of the role, give examples of how you demonstrate all the required skills, so that your application is not just hot air!

As Director of the 2012 Copenhagen Short Documentary Festival I persuaded the Minister for Culture and Sofie Gråbøl to attend the awards ceremony, demonstrating my effective communication skills. 

Follow many of these examples with how your skills will benefit the company.

My experience at the European Commission provided me with an excellent appreciation of the workings of politics and a network of contacts that will allow me to provide effective support in the lobbying department.

3. What makes you unique?

Try to articulate what makes you unique as a job seeker. For example, are you a recent graduate who wrote a thesis on a specialized area: you could argue that you have an understanding of the latest research or developments in this field. 

Be brief 

An application should normally not exceed one A4 page. It is therefore important that you structure it well, so the recipient can quickly get an overview of whether you are qualified to be invited to interview. Your explanations should be short, precise and persuasive. 

Be prepared for the long haul

Job hunting can practically be a full time job. You might have to write many applications before you are called for interview. Remember to consider the process of writing applications as a process where you get better and better at describing and highlighting your own qualities.

Be positive

Always remember to focus on all the positive – in the content of your applications and your feelings about job hunting. Additionally, don’t be scared if the job advert lists tasks that you are not the world champion at. Add emphasis on the areas where you are strongest, and what you're passionate about. 

Good Luck!