How to write a successful job application: part 1

Job application for glass blowing

Job applications need not be stressful. Learn how to inappropriately catch an employer’s attention and manipulate them into hiring you.

Applying for a job can be a stressful process. How do you blend just the right amount of truth with blatant lies in a way that will make the person who’s just looked at fifty of these monsters (or pretended to) want to give you the job?

Having been at the other end of the process and read 110 job applications in the past few days, they are very much on my mind, and I thought I’d take some time to offer you my best tricks for swiping the job. (Yes, I work.)

Disclaimer: Before you get all up in arms, this post is intended humorously, and in no way reflects how I evaluate job applications. Probably.

Getting the employer to read your resume

Your resume isn’t going to do you any good if no one reads it, so your first task is to ensure it gets read. You can do several things to increase the chances of this.

1. If more than one email address is listed in the job ad, send your application to all of them

Because employers always get way more applications than they have positions to fill, a common trick is to tell you at the start of the ad to send your application to, in the middle to send it to, and at the end to send it to

However, only one of these accounts is actually monitored and you have no way of knowing which. This is a trick to avoid having to read two thirds of the applications.

The only way to beat the system is to send your application to all listed email addresses. There’s no way the poor person receiving the applications will end up with five copies of your email in their inbox, making you look like a paranoid moron.

2. Catch their attention with your subject line

You only get one chance to catch their attention and convince them to open your email: your subject line.

Never waste this golden opportunity.

Usually the job ad will specify the subject line they want you to use. This will be something boring like “application for elephant dung shoveller position”.

Whatever you do, don’t use the line they give. How will you ever stand out among the other million emails that use the same line? This is your chance to be creative and demonstrate your psychic-ninja-like skills. I suggest going with one of the following:

  • “Hire me or your a moron”: Note the two subtle tricks here. First, you’ve used the wrong version of “your/you’re”, while hinting they might be the one who’s a moron, and thus demonstrating your advanced grasp of irony. Second, you’ve told them upfront the cost of not hiring you: they’re a moron. Since no one wants to be a moron, this has a high chance of working.
  • “Pay me for five days, get the sixth day free!!!”: Because everyone likes to get free stuff, even employers. And exclamation marks make whatever comes before twice as compelling (three times if you use three or more).
  • “GIVE ME THIS JOB”: It’s simple and clear. Plus the all-caps show you genuinely mean it.
  • “The most important email you’ll read all year”: This one is devious in its subtlety. Note nowhere do you demand they give you the job. Instead you’ve piqued their interest. What can possibly be in this email that’s so important, they wonder, and they have to open it.
Job application: construction
Good: I am licensed to operate most heavy construction equipment. Bad: I’ve always liked to break stuff.
3. Send your job application from a clever email address

Okay, I lied. You have another tool you can use to get their attention before they open your email. The email address you send your application from.

Many people send applications from email addresses that are just their names, like

This is such a wasted opportunity.

Get creative. How about

Use your email address to say something unique about yourself.

The body of the email

Congratulations, you successfully convinced them to open your email. What should go in the body?

There are so many things you can say.

Explain how ever since your girlfriend of two weeks broke up with you a year ago you’ve been right on the edge, and the hope of getting this job is all that’s keeping you from plummeting. If they don’t hire you after hearing this they are heartless.

Tell sad stories of your eighteen shoeless children whom you hope to be able to feed with the money you earn on this job. Who doesn’t want children to be able to eat?

Describe your long and convoluted dream from last night about how you got this job and were amazing at it, and point out this was definitely a sign. How could it not have been a sign?

Note none of these need to be done in prose. Poetry always gets you more respect, especially if they have to spend hours puzzling over what it means.

But if you’re at a good, stable place in your life, your girlfriend is devoted to you, you have no children, shoeless or otherwise, and last night you dreamed of kittens, there is one more trick you can try.

“Hey Alecia!

It was great talking to you at [some conference where I was, but you weren’t] last year. Your advice was invaluable and it’s made such a difference to my life.

When I saw this job advertised I remembered how amazing you were and leapt at the chance to apply, in the hope that I will one day work at your esteemed company and be half as beautiful and talented as you are.

Attached is my job application.

I hope we can catch up soon,

[your name goes here]”

Two points. First, they will feel terrible for not remembering you when you obviously consider them a friend, and will thus look favourably at your application. Second, who doesn’t like to be called beautiful and talented?

Is there a risk they’ll know they never spoke to you? No. Unless it was a ten-person conference, they invariably spoke to more people than they remember. And why would anyone lie about having talked to them?

Wow, this post is getting long and we haven’t even got to the cover letter or resume yet. I’ll stop here for today.

Part 2 is now live: How to write a resume that stands out.

Do you have any tricks to share for catching an employer’s attention? I’m thinking billboard beside the motorway, but it might be a little tacky.

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Job application: contains boots.
Good: I have my own steel-capped boots. Bad: I have my own steel-capped boots, which I bought because I enjoy kicking my coworkers.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

14 thoughts on “How to write a successful job application: part 1”

  1. Now I see where I’ve been going wrong…!

    But you forgot to mention using smiley emojis to show how happy you are to be applying, and how exciting you’ll be to work with! All job application letters need emojis. Honest.

    1. Omg, you’re right. I totally forgot about all the obligatory smilies. 🙂 😛 😉 (Hmm, I only know three.) No, four! “I would really <3 to get this job."

  2. I’m not at all surprised this is funny. What does kind of surprise me, though, is that you have a job. How exactly did you GET that job?

    1. Funny you should ask. I know I didn’t apply, and I certainly didn’t interview. I think it was because I knew someone. Maybe they felt sorry for me?

  3. Delightful advice! 😀 If you have to send a written application, I would also recommend using something else than the standard white paper (how boring is that). Pink would stand out nicely.

    1. I love getting applications on pink paper! Especially if it has stickers of unicorns on it. How original – no one ever thought of doing that before for, say, query letters.

    1. Always glad to help. Btw, you read the disclaimer, right? No chasing me with chainsaws if it doesn’t work out quite how you’d planned.

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