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You and Your Job Application: All the Documents Prospective Employees Want and Need to See

It can be tempting to create a draft job application and send it in – as is – to all job adverts you see on job boards, but the repercussions of that quick and careless application can be widespread. The importance of a properly put-together job application (with all its supporting documents) simply cannot be stressed enough.

In the recruitment business, first impressions always last, and you definitely want your application to fall into the better category when it’s make-or-break time, and the decision has to be made between shortlisted candidates and CV’s that get chucked in the bin.

It’s true that some CV’s get thrown out because they resemble bibliographies, but where do you draw the line? Which documents need to accompany your CV when applying for a vacant position?

Here’s what to include in your application:

  • Your CV – Forgetting to attach your CV to an email job application seems silly, but it happens all the time. There’s nothing that can leave your “excellent eye for detail” disputed quite like this can. Title your CV appropriately as well, titling it something like John Doe applying for Sales Manager at XYZ Holdings.


  • Your Cover Letter – Not all companies request a cover letter to accompany a job application, but there are some companies who want and need to see this with all serious applicants for vacant positions. You can either choose to include your cover letter in the body of an email application, add your cover letter as an attachment to the email, or do both. In your cover letter’s subject line, remember to add your name and surname, which position you’re applying for, and at which company you’re applying for a job. If the job advertisement has a specific reference number that should be used in applications, use that instead. Prospective employers are counting on the fact that serious applicants will adhere to special instructions, and failing to do so could easily see your application being chucked in the bin.


  • Your Sample Portfolio – Some companies want to see a portfolio of previous work that a candidate has done. Depending on the industry you’re in, there might be various sizes and formats in which the portfolio has to be created with, and there might also be a few different samples you’ll need to submit. If you’re a writer, designer, architect, or model, you’ll likely be required to submit evidence of your abilities as well as your experience. Remember that if you’re required to submit a portfolio, quality almost always trumps quality, so only include the samples of work that you’re most proud of.


Here’s what to omit with your job application:

  • Proof of Qualifications- Unless the recruiter has any reason to suspect that you might be lying on your CV, they have enough proof of your educational background, and copies of your qualifications will only be requested if and when you’re shortlisted for the position.


  • Copies of Your Driver’s License or ID – The same rule that applies to qualifications comes in to play here. If the company decides to shortlist or hire you, they may request copies of these documents.


  • Academic Results – Unless you’re applying for your first job, ever, it’s really not necessary to include your matric or university marks in your CV. Sure, recruiters welcome the idea of matriculants attaching their reports to their CV’s, but if you’ve been in the workforce for a year or longer, your academic results aren’t relevant anymore.


  • References from Previous Employers – Clients, mentors, and former employers might have had something to say about you and your abilities, but you do not have to include it in your CV. This information can be added to your portfolio, as long as it is presented in a neat and attractive manner.


  • Your Photo – Whenever a personal photograph is included in a job application, the chances of it hurting your first impression is greatly increased. You should cover your skills and experience in your CV and cover letter, and essentially, that’s all a recruiter or HR manager needs to determine your worth for the position in mind. You really shouldn’t risk the idea of sending out an outdated, unprofessional, and unflattering photo of yourself.


Final Thoughts

When applying for a job, you need to keep in mind that the most important thing to do is to follow the ad’s specifics down to a Tee. You can include and attach all the documents in the world, but not adhering to an HR manager or recruiter’s specific requests can leave your CV overlooked because you neglected to follow the simple instructions.