David Walters

Keeping your job application out of the bin

How to stand out from the job application crowd

Applying for jobs is always tedious and can take up copious amounts of time especially if you are tailoring each application for specific positions. 

I can't speak for all employers but for anyone applying for jobs I can offer advice based around what I look for when filling any position. Some of the points may seem obvious to most of us, but you would be surprised by some of the applications that get sent in. Getting the basics right is absolutely essential in order to land your ideal position.

Use a standard photo 

I have seen many bizarre photos on job applications; from people in rugby scrums claiming "I'm the one with the spotty socks", to people in pharmacies with sanitary pads sitting on shelves behind them. 

Your photo is the first thing a potential employer will look at so make sure it sets the right impression.

Use a standard email

fluffybunny@hotmail.com is not really giving the right impression. Employers want employees to be thorough so if you don't even change your email when you apply, don't expect a call. If you just didn't think it would matter, then that is probably worse.

Be realistic

Writing cover letters and tailoring applications takes time. We all want that dream job, but be realistic about which jobs are suitable. 

An employer has hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications per position to get through, so unless you have the skills and experience necessary on your CV, they won't even get onto your cover letter. If it is a position that you really want and you think your skills are relevant, that is the time to be thorough.

Do your research

When tailoring your letter, take time to research the company that you are applying for and tailor your application accordingly. 

Find out about the history of the company and how you could link skills and experiences. Find out who you are writing the application to and use their name. If the information is difficult to find it doesn't hurt to call up, introduce yourself and ask who to address the application to.

Check spelling and grammar

This doesn't need much explanation. One typo won't cost you a job but if there are more typos than a Year 6 student's homework, your potential employer is not likely to take you seriously.

Keep everything short and sweet

We do not need to know what qualifications you earned when you were sixteen or about that football trophy you earned as a child. All information should be relevant and job related. Keep your application and letter to one page each. Remember that you want to stand out amongst the hundreds of other applicants and that small relevant letters are much easier to read.

Make sure you attach files

Spending hours and hours writing out the perfect application can be painstaking, so don't mess it up at the last hurdle. Check that you have attached the correct files, they are named appropriately and they are all correct.

Try to stand out

This is never easy but if you get it right, it can mean everything to your application.

Set up a personal website with an online portfolio, showing examples of your work, or even make an electronic portfolio to send to your potential employer. I can guarantee people will look out of curiosity more than anything else. It is something different and for an employer an escape from all those boring letters.

Be creative and show off your skills in your application. Our current Art teacher stood out by making a colourful portfolio, that not only showcased her art skills but also her effort and professionalism. Without even looking at her cover letter we could make a decision and she got an interview.

David Walters

Head of British Early Years Centre


Thanks for sharing the Do's and Don'ts in job hunting.It helps a lot because you know how what to put and not what to write.
I got some ideas added to my job..Many thanks!

By Alette, Bangkok, Thailand (30th September 2022)

It depends on the position you're applying for. If you're applying for a teaching position, it is really logical to put seminars and job experience related to teaching only. However, if you're applying for say managerial position, listing down not-so-related seminars and jobs would help because it would show how hardworking you are and that you know, aside from the main function, a little of almost everything. :)

By Normina, metro (11th November 2014)

I have a few comments for would-be teacher applicants when sending in your application e-mails or in person applications.

KISS... Keep It Simple and Succinct.

The majority of potential employers in Thailand are not going to understand the finesse of a finely tuned resume written in politically correct and flowery context for your home country :
Stick to the points (relevant education and employment).

Anything else should be in the cover letter.

Every potential employer hiring teachers is looking for the same things:

Scan of your Passport (citizenship and validity)
Scan of your Degree (makes you legal to become a teacher).
Scan of your transcript of records (TOR) or other proof of program from your Uni - a KSP requirement.
Scan of a recent police clearance (you want to work with kids - employers and parents want to know.)

If you are NOT a Native Speaker (not one of the 6 "correct" passports) then you NEED to have a valid TOEIC score certificate and the scan should be attached.

Although not a "requirement" if you have a TEFL certificate it would also be appropriate to add a scan to your application.

Leave the rest of the "certificates" off of it.
For entry level EFL work they don't matter.
If you are looking for something higher up the food chain then list them as an appendix to your resume. The employer doesn't want 25 megabytes of scans of your 1-day seminars clogging up his inbox.


By Dave, Thailand (11th November 2014)

Is it really necessary to attach a photo to a resume? I know they prefer that in the appearance obsessed land of smiles, but putting a photo on a resume in the US would get one's resume thrown in the trash (unless it were a modeling job of some sort, etc.).

It's also important to note than resumes should only be ~1 page for most people. In Thailand, many people seem to think that a longer resume is better for some reason. Even college kids with no experience start listing random experiences from middle school, etc.

By Will, Bangkok (10th November 2014)

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