Do’s and Don’t’s of Sending Your First Job Application

In this article, Talent Turku business advisor Megumi Hayashi (from Turku Science Park Ltd.) gives her tips to higher education students on how to format the perfect CV and cover letter to help you get the job you want in Finland. Megumi is a seasoned professional in business, growth and networking, with particular expertise in helping companies develop their international capabilities and connections.

This article focuses on the formal aspects of writing a CV and a cover letter. To learn about what content you should include in both, read our previous article by Antti Lavanti, a senior consultant at Personnel.

For university students, a summer job or an internship is probably their first job application. We received more than 100 applications for our marketing and communications trainee position. Many CV’s, unfortunately, are pushed aside as “no’s” mostly because of how the CV and the cover letter are sent to us or how they look. So, here are our tips:

Use Formal Business Style

Finnish communication is rather informal, but the CV and the cover letter have to be formal. Use the business format in the cover letter:

  • Heading with your contact information
  • “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern”
  • Use complete sentences
  • “Best regards” or “Yours Sincerely”

Don’t overdo the graphic elements in the CV. It depends on what position you are applying for, but Finnish businesses generally prefer a simple and clear style.

Leave space for easy reading. A page that is too crowded is not attractive for the reader.

Use the formal aspects of your application to highlight things relevant to the position. If you’re applying for a marketing position, use language that is descriptive and engaging. If you’re going after a job in IT or programming, look at what systems or programming languages the employer lists and place them first in your application. A single job opening might get a hundred applications, which means yours has to stand out not only with its content but with its readability.

Don’t Ignore the Email

Demonstrate your business communication skills in the e-mail. Yes, what you are asked to send is a CV and a cover letter, but don’t send them with an empty text field. When you send the application, you are demonstrating your readiness in business communication. So, do it properly:

  • Dear Sir/Madam
  • I am applying for the xxx position. Please find attached my CV and cover letter.
  • Name the attachment properly. Don’t send your CV named “attachment 1” or “scanned 478903”.
  • Send the CV as a PDF file, not as a link to a Google document. Your file may not open on the receiver’s side or it doesn’t show properly. It causes frustration and gives across an unprofessional impression.

It’s All in the Details

Pay attention to the details. Inconsistent use of font or font size, badly aligned lines or graphic elements may strike the reader’s eye as unprofessional:

  • Check the alignment
  • Make sure that the use of bolding, italics, line spacing and different fonts or font sizes are consistent
  • Don’t mix too many different fonts or font sizes
  • Many recruiters tend to print out applications and review them that way. For this reason, make sure that your application looks good printed out. Having too many colours or white text on a dark background may not be the best choice.

Save Yourself Some Headache and Double-Check

Double-check everything before you click “send”. You will feel bad if you notice a spelling mistake just after you have sent the application. So will the HR person reading your application. Double-check before you click “send”. It is even better if you can get somebody to do the checking for you.

Use the Phone if Possible

Finally, an email might not be the only way to demonstrate your skills in business communication. If the employer lists hours when they can be contacted for more information, it’s often a good idea to use these to help you make an impression. But be careful, you can also miss your shot. Always remember to tell them your name at the beginning and at the end (e. g. “It was John Smith who called”). The impression you make over the phone needs to connect to the hopefully memorable application you also sent. This is impossible without the employer remembering your name. Just make sure to call them only during the days and hours they say are appropriate.

With these tips, you can improve your chances of landing the job you want. Take a look at our page where we list job openings in English in Turku and Southwest Finland to try out your new writing skills in action. Make sure to also subscribe to our newsletter where we periodically showcase open positions that don’t require Finnish or Swedish.