The 9 keys to get your foot in the door for any job

Do you really want that job or is it going to be another one of your copy-paste-send applications (job application)?



If it is the right job for you, stop and think hard about the key selection criteria.

I regularly have discussions with my job search clients about their job search methods and what tools they need to use to get to an interview.  It really does not matter what type of job ad you have in front of you, you have to open your toolkit and apply the right key to unlock gates or you will not get anywhere.


Don’t just skim over the job ad. Pay attention or you will waste everyone’s time including your own. The key criteria for a job are different with every job ad, but the layout and process is usually spelled out in a list of qualities, knowledge and skills needed for the job. Think of them as gates to the hiring professional.


If you want your application to be noticed, use my 9 selection keys to open each selection gate.


Key #1: Understand the process.

Employers use key criteria to compare applicants using the same measures.

Key #2: Study the key criteria.

Take your time and think about what the employer is really looking for. Break it down into bullet points to answer.

Key #3: Do your preparation.

The more preparation you do, the better your answers will be. Look up the organisation’s annual report if it’s public. Google the company and read news reports about it. Use your network to find out more about the culture. This will help you stand out from the other candidates.

Key #4: Match criteria.

Always have a hard copy print out of your resume in front of you and compare it with the key criteria. Can you see matches? It’s perfectly acceptable to give examples from extracurricular activities such as sports or charity work. Consider writing a bespoke resume for the job that highlights the key criteria.

Key #5: Keep the layout simple.

Bullet points and short sentences are best. Time poor recruiters are looking for the key points in a few words. Less is more when it comes to job applications.

Key #6: Give STAR responses.

Applicants with relevant and credible examples of the key criteria are more likely to make it to the top of the pile. TheJobSearchCoach recommends the “STAR” method for these examples. Explain the “Situation” where the relevant example came from (such as customer service), follow that with the “Task” (which is your role in the example), outline what “Action” you took, and spell out the “Result”. 

Key #7: Substantiate your claims.

Rather than saying “I worked in a team”, be specific about what your role was in the team. Remember what we always refer to as FFN = Give Facts (what was your role), Figures (when, how often, what, with) and Numbers (how many staff, locations, product sets).

Key #8: Choose your words carefully.

A recruiter is likely to spend 30 seconds or less visually scanning your application. If the right words jump out, your application will be worthy of further attention. Where possible use the same words and the language that is used in the key criteria.

Key #9: Get someone to proofread your responses.

A fresh set of eyes is best to ensure that you have answered the questions and used correct spelling and grammar. This is particularly important if English is your second language. Ask if that person would employ you based on your replies to the key criteria.


By properly and diligently considering the key criteria you put yourself ahead of most of the competition. So take your time preparing your replies to the key selection criteria.


All of that homework will vastly improve the chances of scoring an interview and will pay off when you go for the interview. You’ll be able to nail those interview questions and the whole process of writing a suitable application will become easier with each new response.


Job Search Success

Job Application Success

So, don’t just skim over the ad and certainly don’t do a copy & paste special if you really want the job. Put your heart and mind into it, use your keys and remember to hunt wisely!

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