Lead a vivid life that does good

14 tips when applying for jobs from the business owner of a recruitment company

UPDATED: Feb 2019

While a lot of the below post still applies. Technology is changing how CVs and Data of Jobseekers is handled.

I’ve written an updated post »

10 great tips when applying for jobs online!



Having just spent an hour or two looking over applications for an internal role at agoge, I am compelled to share some hints about applying for jobs. They are just my perspective, from a guy who has been on the receiving end of literally 1000’s of CV’s and covering letters.


  1. I don’t read the whole CV. Not even close, I just skim read. If I’m really interested I might read more than 10%.
  2. As I skim read, I’m looking for fit into my business culture, as well as growth and learning and experience that could be portable into my business. You don’t have to have done the job, just show me you could do our job, in our context.
  3. Even though I don’t read your CV, bad speling and formatting jumps off the page.
  4. Most CV’s arrive electronically, make sure they are PDF that way your formatting looks the same to me, as it did when you sent it. PDF also saves me clicking 2 times to open your docx on my doc machine and I can read and highlight all over your PDF on my iPad.
  5. Computers have colour available. Yip, you can use graphics and colourful fonts and pictures to sell yourself. It might make me read more than 10%. It will definitely make you stand out from 99.99% of the other people. I’m serious in the latest 100+ CVs I’ve read, none have done a good job of that.

The cover letter

  1. Firstly all of our ads have a contact name. So “Dear Sir/Madam” is really not appropriate. I also doubt I will ever be a “Sir”.
  2. If we ask you to provide 2 great reasons why we should consider you. Then provide 2 great reasons, don’t just cut and paste your last letter.
  3. On that note, I frequently read other companies names instead of our company name in people’s letters. Oops … best you proof read it, or better still get someone else to proof read it.
  4. Make it obvious in the cover letter that you have checked out our website, or know about who we are. You can’t underestimate how excited we get about people who are excited about us.
  5. Your first two lines of any letter either scream “boring, stop reading me”, or grab our attention and draw us to read the rest of the letter. Make it the latter.

Other stuff

  1. I really like it when people take an interest in our jobs and our company before they apply. It stands out in their CV, their letter and gets my attention.
  2. Alexander Bell created these amazing things called Telephones. If we give you permission, pick up the phone and ask a couple of questions. You’re not likely to blow it, and I will remember your name. Therefore your CV moves up the pile because you showed initiative.
  3. I know a lot of companies will now only accept electronic CV’s. I don’t mind getting a physical colour, bound CV. Dress up, call in, ask for the person and just let them know you wanted to set a good impression and drop your CV in. It’s scary as anything, but this is about getting the job you want. This will move your CV up the pile.
  4. I really appreciate honesty. If you’re applying for a job that’s a stretch. Say so. We often keep hold of CVs we might be interested in later.

So these are my suggestions. Some people will pay a lot more attention to your CV, most I suspect don’t.

Listen to my ideas, or don’t. It’s up to you.

Unless of course you’re applying for a job with me.


  1. Lyndelle Kelsen

    Well said Andrew! Thanks for sharing some inside information. I’ve been wondering where to start with my CV. So that has been hugely helpful. Lyndelle K.

  2. Trent

    Very very true. Many people with skills for the role don’t make it past the first glance. There’s one grammar and one spelling mistake in your list!

    • Andrew Nicol

      Thanks for the comment. Actually got people to proof read it, so funny there is still grammar probs.

  3. Manatu Iuli

    Many thanks for the tips, I shall apply now with a little more confidence and flair!

    • Andrew Nicol

      Thanks. Good luck with the application! 🙂

  4. Colin W

    I’ve finally found information with regards to CV’s that makes sense and takes away the mystique, pity others don’t follow and take on board these ideas. I will apply for the position as it puts a different perspective on your Organisation a human one. – regards Colin W.

    • Andrew Nicol

      Thanks Colin, appreciate your comments!

  5. chancel1986

    Thaks for posting those details mate.

  6. himanshu behal

    After reading this tips only I figure out how applicants, including me, makes these silly mistakes and how professionals like Andrew pick them up straight away. Life is all about making things easy and this PDF format thing is exactly that. I am really impressed and would like to thank Andrew Nicol for guiding us. Cheers 🙂

  7. piri

    Thanks Andrew, great to see that someone like you cares and take time to share this type of inside on C.V application. I’m using your 14 tips in my presentation also because ” People matter” and people doesn’t care how much you know until they know how much you care, so Andrew continue to breathe your dreams as “people matter” it is an encouragement to me and others. Thanks

    • Andrew Nicol

      Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. All the best with the application!

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