A Step-By-Step Guide To Job Application Etiquette So You Can Get That Cheque

If your experience has been anything like mine, you know that job hunting is a pain in the arse. You spend all day sending a million and one emails to employers of all stripes… And maybe only get one or two responses back. (And one of those was a “thank you for your application BUT…” Nothing good ever comes after the “but”.)

But maybe the reason your work-email inbox is not popping off like you should be is because you need to tweak your approach.

That’s why we reached out to Nick Deligiannis, the Managing Director of Hays Australia & New Zealand. We figured that the largest recruitment firm in Australia would have some sage advice for us broke bitties, and we weren’t wrong.

Here’s the dos and don’ts of job application etiquette, straight from the expert.

Don’t: Send bulk generic emails

“Just like a cover letter and CV, it is essential to personalise your message when you’re applying for a job via email,” Deligiannis says. He also recommends you “provide relevant examples of your best work [because] this provides the recruiter or employer with evidence of your skills and experience.”

Another tip from Deligiannis: “Find out the name of the recruiter or hiring manager so you can address your email to them personally. Research the organisation so you can clearly articulate how your skills and experience make you an ideal candidate for that role.”

Do: Keep it succinct

Shakespeare famously wrote that “brevity is the soul of wit”, and Kevin Malone famously said “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick”. Deligiannis agrees.

“Your email should be a personal introduction to you as a professional [so] keep it brief but engaging. Summarise why you are the right person for the role and leave the reader wanting to find out more. Towards the end of your email, confirm your availability and sign off with a power phrase such as, ‘I would like to discuss in greater detail the value I could bring to your organisation’.” (We love a power phrase!)

Don’t: Go overboard with the flattery

No-one likes a fake bitch.

“This could risk you coming across as insecure, insincere or sycophantic,” warns Deligiannis.

“Professionalism, maturity and authenticity are vital qualities to communicate from the beginning of your relationship with the employer.”

Do: Follow up

It’s no good to just send an email and wash your hands of things. The job’s not done until you get the job, bb!

“If you haven’t received a reply with two days, send a brief follow-up email or call to introduce yourself and let the recruiter or employer know that you have sent an email to apply for a role. This will highlight your proactive attitude and your interest in the role,” Deligiannis advises.

Don’t play yourself. You might really need the job but you can sabotage all your good work if you don’t take things seriously. Deligiannis’ got some tips you ought keep in mind.

Searching for a new job at work is never a good idea

We’ve all done it (hell, you might be reading this article at work rn. Love that for you).

But Deligiannis warns that this is a bad move–not just because you could upset your employer, but also because it puts you in the wrong mindset.

“Endlessly browsing job ads and sending off rushed job applications in your lunch break is not the right way to approach your job search. Finding a new job should be a task you enjoy and get excited about. So, set aside some time and focus on it when you’re feeling refreshed, positive and energised.”

Avoid exaggerating the truth at all costs

There’s a fine line between talking yourself up and straight-up bullshitting on your CV.

“You must remember that expert screeners will immediately spot when something doesn’t add up,” reminds Deligiannis.

“A lie here or there could see your chances reduced from shortlist to dustbin in a moment. Even if you made it to the shortlist, you’ll be left floundering in a job interview.”

Be discerning

Sometimes when we’re desperate for $$$ we can lose sight of the bigger picture.

Deligiannis says: “Job searching is not a numbers game–the likelihood of being asked to interview does not increase with every job application you send. Although it may be tempting to apply for each vaguely relevant job you find, this is a waste of your time. Only apply for roles for which your skills and experience clearly match. Ensure you read the job description in full and tailor your application accordingly.”

Sharpen up your socials

Employers and recruiters aren’t complete idiots and most will probably have a quick FB stalk or Google search of your name.

“Your online activity can have an impact on your chance of securing a job, particularly if it’s offensive or contradicts the professional image or experience you are portraying,” Deligiannis explains.

Make sure your privacy settings are locked down tight (this is just good general life advice tbh) and that anything publically visible presents the best version of you possible.

Finally, a small detail that’s hard to nail is how you address an email. You’ll shoot yourself in the foot if you start off on the wrong… foot (we love an extended metaphor).

Signing an email can be just as hard and is just as important as how you address an email. You need to strike the right balance between being considerate without coming off as disingenuous or overly formal–it’s called the “complimentary close” in business speak.

Most of the time when you’re sending an email off to an employer, you’re hoping that they mail you back, so here’s a few pointers about common business speak.

Dear…

Can’t go wrong with “dear”. It’s harder to fuck up your opening and even harder if you go with a “dear”. Classic.

Hi…

Oooh, a little bit casual, are we? If you get a response back with a “hi”, then use this bad boy, but if you’re trying to get the job, be more polite.

To whom it may concern…

Sometimes, if it’s not clear who you’re sending the application to, this can be ok. Generally speaking it comes off as impersonal and a little stiff. If you can, do some research and figure out who the head of recruiting / department head / business owner is so you know who you’re talking to, so you can tailor your email with a personal greeting.

Regards…

“Regards” and its variants are a classic, polite if not slightly formal way to sign off. “Kind regards”, “Best regards”, “Warm regards”, or just good ol’ fashioned “Regards” are all good choices–keep in mind that “Regards” on its own can read as a bit curt or pass-agg, so perhaps start with something a little stronger and work your way down to a “Regards”.

Sincerely…

A little more formal than “Regards”, “Sincerely” is another great way to end communication respectfully without coming off as obsequious. “Sincerely yours” however is pretty intimate. It’s like doing an “XOXO”. Which, like, is your call, and I admire your bravery, but I’m not sure, chief. (Nick recommends either “Yours sincerely” or “Kind regards”, FYI.)

Many thanks…

Here’s a tip that’s not too obvious: it’s not a great idea to sign off with just “Thank you” or “Thanks”. “Thank you” should be part of a sentence rather than a closer, e.g. “Thank you for considering my application…”

Cheers…

Don’t start off with one of these bad boys. It’s way too informal and you’ll come off as unprofessional. Once you’ve established a sense of rapport and line of communication maybe go for the “Cheers” but do so at your own risk. This ain’t after-work drinks, bud.

Stay frosty…

Unless you’re a character in a ‘00s sitcom, this doesn’t work, and tbh even then. Same goes for “Yo!” when you’re opening your mail. Duh.

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Jamie is a journalist, radio presenter, music nerd and shameless sneakerhead. When he's not writing, he's obsessing over the latest hip-hop and Nike releases. Is also baby.

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