Great Application Documents: What's the secret?
Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Have you been wondering what the secret ingredient is that makes your application documents go from good to great?
And no: It's not a career coach in case you thought this was going to be a self-marketing article. So, let's better get that thought out of the way.
It's also not "choosing the most stylish template" or "adding a long list of all your skills".
Sometimes when people approach me in search of career coaching and application advice, they somehow expect me to get out my magic wand and transform their application documents into something that makes them go "WOW". And actually, this is what happens, but in a different way than they expect at first.
So, what could this WOW ingredient be?
The only thing that makes you different from everybody else in the world is you!
Therefore, only you and your unique personality can be a true WOW factor.
It's as simple as that.
The slightly harder part is, to get your personality on paper.
This is why I never tire of saying, that jobsearching never starts with scrolling jobboards and writing your CV, but it always starts with yourself. The key to success lies in you - and that does not only count for job searching and applying, but for everything you do in your life.
Only when you are aware of your strengths - especially of those that are unique to you - your motivation, your achievements and your goals, you will be able to display them in your documents.
This is why I strongly recommend to start with a self-assessment, and the rest will follow naturally.
Here's how to do that.
Start with the strengths you already know.
Write all of them down in a method of your choice: Paper, app, online whiteboard, mind map, anything works. Ask yourself:
What am I good at?
What is my technical expertise?
Which theoretical knowledge have I got?
Which tools and methods am I a pro at?
What do I do well outside of work?
What positive feedback did I receive before?
Write, write, write.
If you feel like you are done, it is time to ask others. Go ask your friends, family, colleagues, managers, professors, etc. which strengths they see in you and what they think you do especially well. Sometimes the answers will surprise you, sometimes they confirm what you already know.
Lastly, think about the strengths that make you unique. Ask yourself: What can I do better than people in the same job or somebody with the same degree?
Your motivation is the driving factor behind doing what you are doing. It is what makes you get out of bed every morning to do the job. Therefore, you can certainly expect interview questions about this issue. So why not think of it now and use it for your documents.
Simply ask yourself:
Why do I want to become an electronics engineer, developer, CAE engineer, project manager, [insert desired job title]?
You might answer with something like “because I've always enjoyed maths & physics" or "because I want to make an impact on future sustainable innovations".
Be honest with yourself.
Ask yourself "why" so many times until your feel like you've hit the nail on the head.
Most of the application processes are based on the belief that past behaviour predicts future behaviour, no matter if this is still accurate.
For this reason, you need to be absolutely clear about the things you have achieved in the past.
Start by creating a list of them or use this opportunity to start a "Success Book" where from now on you will write down all your small and big successes.
Think about professional, academic, but also personal achievements. Mention things you are proud of.
If you feel like you can't come up with enough, think about that:
Have you successfully completed any university assignments?
Have you written a thesis?
Have you moved to Germany from your home country and created a new life here?
Have you reduced time or cost? By how much?
Have you optimised any processes? In what way? What happened after you did?
Have you introduced a new method, tool, script? How did it help?
Have you visibly influenced co-workers, students, etc. in a positive way? What was the outcome?
Have you had any valuable idea to contribute to a project? In what way was the idea used in the project? What impact did it have?
Have you had any achievements in the field of your hobbies?
See? There is so much worth mentioning.
If you have now worked on your strengths, your motivation and your achievements, you have created and excellent basis for working on your documents.
Now, where do you put them?
Your strengths basically go everywhere.
2 core strengths should appear in your profile summary
Technical strengths in skills section & with the positions where you gained them
Personal strengths might be useful to put in the "interests" section (but please check relevance)
Soft skills can be used in combination with the achievements where you showed those soft skills in your cover letter
Your motivation makes an excellent entry sentence for the cover letter or for the paragraph where you tell the company what motivates you to join them. Moreover, you can include it into your profile summary as well.
Your achievements again go everywhere.
The ones that describe best why you can do the job, can be used as examples in your cover letter
In your CV they should appear with the matching positions
1-2 key achievements can be the core of your profile summary
Tadaaaaaa - [Swinging my magic wand]
You have created documents that reflect your personality!
Another bonus is, that you will be able to use all of these findings for your LinkedIn profile and for many answers in interviews.