It’s that time of year, when regardless of your next move after high school, you’ll be needing to start applications.
Applications to uni, TAFE, applying for jobs, scholarships, bursaries, or even applying for gap year projects or visas to travel overseas.
Here’s our top tips on putting together a great application, that’ll get you noticed for all the right reasons.
Find out how to apply
If you’re applying directly to a uni or TAFE, check their “how to apply” pages and make sure you know the process, and what you’ll need to complete your application. Not all institutions will take direct applications though, and you might need to apply through a TAC.
Read about the application process for applying through Tertiary Admissions Centres (TACs). QTAC in Queensland, UAC in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, UTAS in Tasmania, VTAC in Victoria, SATAC in South Australia and the Northern Territory and TISC in Western Australia.
If you’re applying for work, make sure you read what the employer wants in the application and how to submit it.
Know the key dates – if you submit applications late (after they have closed), you may not be considered and miss out.
Meet the requirements
Most importantly, if there are any eligibility criteria, make sure you read them and that you can tick off each one. If you submit an application but don’t meet the entry requirements, then you’re not going to be successful.
Usually this means you’re the legal age, your residency status is suitable, you have basic skills such as language, literacy and numeracy that meet a required level.
For Uni and TAFE courses, you may need a minimum ATAR / OP, to have studied particular subjects and/or modules, have specific skills.
For scholarships etc. you may need to be a certain gender, have been accepted to study at a specific institution or to do a particular subject. You might need to prove your indigenous, financial, disability, special consideration, rural or other status.
For some jobs, you might need previous qualifications or skills, (and be able to prove them).
Once you know how to apply, when you need to apply by, and that you’re eligible. Spend some time getting together all the bits and bobs you’re going to need. This could include:
- Personal details:
Do you need proof like a Medicare card, Centrelink number, birth certificate, change of name certification, proof of address such as driver’s license or passport?
If you have them, check they are valid and show the correct details. Otherwise you might have to get them updated before you can apply, or find alternative documentation.
Check if you’ll need to provide copies of documentation, how those can be accepted (scanned, email, hard copies, etc.), and check if they’ll need to be certified by a JP or someone else with the right authority.
For TAFE, apprenticeships, traineeships or other recognised training, you’ll probably need a USI.
If you’ll be getting paid by your trainer or employer, then you’re likely to need a tax file number (TFN), so make sure you’ve applied for one and you have the details handy.
Do you have the right proof of your exam results, academic, sporting, performing, leadership or community achievements at school, have you provided supporting letters of recommendation?
If not, try to get hold of all the documentation before you start your application. Your school should be able to help you out.
- Back up your claims:
It’s easy to tell someone you’ve got tonnes of skills and experience, but you’ll need to be able to support those claims. Even better if you can do it (briefly) in your application, rather than waiting until the interview.
Use examples (short and relevant), of your skills. E.g. “I’ve developed great team working skills through captaining the school soccer team”.
Make sure you’ve got great references. This is important if you’re applying for jobs particularly. Potential employers will be happy to see you’re reliable, got relevant experience, or are well regarded by other professionals.
If your application requires a portfolio, video or some other form of media, make sure you have all your best work ready to go. Well-presented and looking it’s best, edited to perfection with great content.
Take your time
If you don’t spend much time on you application(s), chances are it will show in the end product. Which could mean that you go to the bottom of the pile.
Make sure you provide everything that’s required to complete to application – this could be a copy of your resume and a covering letter, a completed application form, and any supporting evidence required.
Fill in all the details correctly.
Personalise your application. If you send off a generic application or cover letter, you might not make the best impression that you can. Make the time to address why you think you’d be the best fit for the course or job. Adjust the information you provide to highlight the skills and qualifications you’ve got that best the meet the requirements.
In general, it’s best to keep applications short and relevant. There might be loads of other applications submitted and if yours is brilliant, but really long – it might not get the attention it deserves.
Try and make your personality shine through. Yeah sure you have all the right qualifications and skills, and you meet any other criteria, but so might dozens more applicants. If you can tailor your applications and allow the reader to get a glimpse of you, it could ensure that you get through to the next stage.
Finally, check your work. Check it once, twice is better, three times even. Ask a friend or family member to have a read before you submit and ask them to be brutally honest about any changes you need to make, mistakes you’ve made or information that’s missing.
After all your hard work, don’t forget to do the final stages – press the send or submit button, get it in the post (or to the courier if the deadline’s approaching or it’s a portfolio of all your original work).