Even if you are a good fit for a role, writing an application that successfully conveys this to the organisation will always be the most difficult part of applying for a new role. This is made even more difficult by the fact that you cannot generally see what the best applications look like, meaning there are very few sources of inspiration to draw on. That is why we were so keen to share some successful applications with you.

In this article we look at what three successful candidates have written. Despite the very different approaches taken, there is one thing they all have in common. Each application gives compelling evidence of the expertise and passion the candidate will bring and how this will make an impact on the organisation they will be joining.


This candidate kept the responses short but provided strong evidence for exactly the competencies the organisation required. In under 350 words the candidate left the organisation in no doubt they had found the perfect fit for their role.

Blancco Technology plc, CFO

This London-based international software and technology firm works with a number of major telecommunication carriers and provides leading security software. They are seeking a CFO who will support the CEO and work with the Board on the commercial development of the business as well as playing a key role in investor relations. The successful candidate will have UK plc CFO experience and will be well regarded by key City advisors and institutional investors.

Qualified accountant:
Please confirm that you are a qualified accountant and, if relevant, your university qualifications.
I am a self taught accountant with first time passes, qualifying in 1999. My qualification is with CIMA.
CFO experience within a UK PLC:
You will be a current or (recent) former CFO of a UK publicly listed business. Please provide details of UK PLC CFO roles you have held including organisations and dates.
I was CFO of AIM listed technology company, Eckoh plc, from 2004 to 2017. The last nine years of my time at the company saw a period of exceptional growth with revenue growing from £6m to £29m and the market capitalisation of the business growing from £10m to £120m+. This growth included three acquisitions and expansion into the US market.
Institutional investor network:
You will be well regarded by key City advisors and institutional investors. Please provide details of the advisors you have worked most closely with and the key institutional investors who would endorse your experience, skill and ability.
As an AIM listed CFO for 13 years, I have an extensive network of contacts. The advisors that I know best are from N+1 Singer, Liberum and Berenberg. I have also met a large network of investors following the same period of investor roadshows.
Technology or B2B services experience:
Please give details of any technology or B2B services sector organisations you have worked in, including the dates and your role at that organisation.
Eckoh plc specialise in the provision of technology solutions to businesses with large call centres. Eckoh would host the call and could handle the call through speech recognition or could pass the call to a live agent. Eckoh also provided tools for use by agents such as the ability to process payments securely, web chat, social media monitoring and email management.
Covering letter:
With my extensive experience of working as a listed company CFO for a technology company, I appear at first sight to be a good fit for this organisation. Eckoh's solutions were based around telecommunications. Eckoh also had a strong proposition in security and were Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) Level 1 accredited. I understand fully the requirements of being an AIM listed CFO and also had a broader remit of responsibility including Company Secretary, Security Group Chairman and responsible for areas such as HR, property, data protection, legal, insurance and a number of other areas. I left Eckoh in 2017 following the completion of a 12 month notice period and left on exceptionally good terms with all. Following a short career break, I am now keen to find the next exciting role to work on. I very much hope to be able to discuss this opportunity with you.


This application jumped out immediately as the candidate showed enormous passion for the work of the organisation, combined with highly relevant professional and personal experience.

14-18 Now, Campaign Member

Part of the official First World War Centenary commemorations, 14-18 NOW is an independent programme hosted within Imperial War Museums. The Programme is co-commissioning UK and international artists to create new work that inspires and engages the public and redefines how we look at and feel about the First World War. They are seeking to build a new Campaign Group and hence are looking to recruit a Chair and members who will lead the programme’s fundraising efforts.

Covering letter:
I am a highly motivated high achiever who has reached the highest rank in the Army. Having just stepped down as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (one of the troika of senior military officers in NATO and the most senior British officer in the Alliance), I am actively building a portfolio career in which I am keen to include relevant and important pro bono activity. Membership of the 14-18 NOW Campaign Group will play to my strengths. I am a passionate amateur historian and, having lived for 3 years in Belgium close to the WW1 battlefields, I have an intimate knowledge and understanding of many of the battlefields and the impact of the war, not only on the lives of those who fought and died there, but also on wider British and European society. I am comfortable at the strategic level and the ability to build relationships and to influence and persuade the widest range of stakeholders (political, diplomatic, humanitarian and development) has been fundamental to any success I have had in my military career. I am an experienced and savvy media operator with good contacts in the defence media world and well suited to be a campaign spokesperson. Furthermore, in my spare time while living in Belgium I became a passionate and charismatic amateur battlefield guide to the 1815 Waterloo campaign and part of the team which raised £1.3m for the Hougoumont 200 Appeal. My proudest fund-raising achievement is personally persuading Chancellor George Osborne to contribute £1m of HM Treasury money to the fund. After a lifetime as a soldier, it is second nature to follow (and to contribute to the formulation) of a campaign plan. Like any soldier, if told to go: I will go. So I will take direction willingly and with humility. I love art and music and cannot think of a better way to bring to life the importance of this key event in the life of our nation. I stand ready to serve this great cause.

APPLICATION 3 - Private Equity Advisor

This candidate gave concise, evidence-based answers and quantified the scale of achievements in previous roles. The covering letter was very strong, conveying the depth of experience and the value the candidate would bring to the organisation, as well as insights into the candidate’s character and why this role was of particular interest.

Fibre broadband business, Pre deal advisor

Octopus are exploring investing in fibre (FTTP) opportunities in the UK including both green-field network projects and established companies with rural and urban fibre networks. The opportunities could result in deployment of £300m+. Octopus are seeking an advisor who can help them through due diligence on any deal process, and potentially act as a NED for a future investee company. They're looking for someone with experience in rolling out high speed broadband and scaling a business.

Fibre broadband roll-out experience:
The successful candidate will have deep understanding and experience of high speed fibre broadband roll-outs (FTTP / FTTB), ideally in the UK or Europe. Please evidence your experience including specific metrics, dates, roles and organisations.
For the past two years as Chairman of John Henry Group, I have been building fibre infrastructure across the UK for operators eg Virgin Media, Vodafone, BT, CityFibre, Gigaclear and other Altnets. As MD of Virgin Media Business (2009-13), I was involved in building and operating the country's second largest fibre network to meet the requirements of UK Enterprises and Service Providers. I developed and sold fibre network solutions at C&W and Reliance in UK, Europe and the Middle East (1992-2009)
Scaling experience:
The successful candidate will have been operationally instrumental during a significant period of early stage growth in a company operating in a relevant field. Please evidence your experience including specific metrics, dates, roles and organisations.
My career has focused on building B2B service businesses which leverage infrastructure investments to deliver superior revenue and margin growth. This was achieved by developing teams who understand how customer requirements can drive efficient utilisation of network assets. Firstly at Mercury/C&W we grew from £600m to >£1bn (1996-2000); then at Virgin Media where we grew from £500m to £700m (2009-13); and more recently at John Henry £60m to £86m (2016-18) and Interxion €340m to €560m (2014-18)
Covering letter:
I built a successful career as an executive in the telecoms industry over a period of 21 years since I joined Mercury Communications in 1992. Over this period I worked for a variety of companies in the sector: C&W, Reliance, Virgin Media, working in the UK as well as in France and the Middle East. I discovered that I really enjoyed building B2B service businesses. I enjoyed being a leader and I was good at building and motivating teams. I particularly liked working for a 'challenger' brand such as Mercury or Virgin where we were taking on the dominant operator, usually BT, because it often put on the same side as our customers and made it easier to find a win-win solution. Following the $23bn acquisition of Virgin Media by Liberty Global in 2013, I had the opportunity to change my career path and decided to 'go plural' and build a portfolio of non-executive positions in B2B technology companies. For the past five years I have been working as a non-executive for a large business (Interxion), two small start-ups (SourceConnect, WanOptimum) and one mid-sized business (John Henry Group) all of which are growth businesses in the technology sector. I have discovered that I enjoy working with management as much as I used to like being the leader. I like the variety that comes from having a number of different business, each with its own particular challenges and also the freedom that allows me to take a step back from the day-to-day operations and look at things from a different perspective. I have recently stepped down as Chairman of John Henry Group and this gives me the space and time to engage with another one or two businesses. I am very attracted to the opportunity of working with Octopus Investments and I believe that I would be a good fit for this role. I have a lot of relevant experience in the sector both in terms of the technology, and more particularly in terms of the customers. I understand the difficulty of building infrastructure in the uniquely challenging UK environment and of the risks that need to be carefully managed in order to be successful. Sadly, over the past 30 years the UK has gone from being a telecoms leader to being a laggard, especially in terms of fibre infrastructure deployment. This has, however, created huge pent-up demand for better consumer and business networks, even before considering the infrastructure requirements of new technologies such as 5G, IoT, Autonomous Vehicles etc. The good news is that the EU and UK governments have finally started to act; industry is looking for solutions and financing the build is not as big an issue as was once thought. Everything is now moving in the right direction and this has created a huge opportunity for those that have the right level of experience and discipline. In other words, a huge opportunity and a huge challenge and I would love the chance to play a role in turning this into a successful business.

Update: click here to read the latest instalment of 'Successful Application'.

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