Study details how to get your job application to the top of the pile

Whether you're looking for a new job or simply putting out feelers to see what's available, there's a good chance you've experienced the most frustrating part of job hunting: never hearing back about your application. A new study from the Queensland University of Technology offers some insight into why that may be and the things you can do to help change the outcome.

In many ways, job-hunting is harder than ever. Most companies require applicants to submit their information online, meaning there's a good chance you'll never speak to someone in person. The materials submitted, particularly a resume, often make or break whether you'll get any attention from the company.

As part of their study, researchers with the Queensland University of Technology analyzed resumes and cover letters from applicants who had applied for a visual journalism job. By using this data, the study sheds light on what gets applicants the most attention from employers, at least in the US.

The most important element, the study found, was whether the applicant had received awards or "professional recognition" related to the job they applied for. These applicants were four times more likely to get shortlisted for the job compared to other applicants who lacked these credentials.

Also very important, according to the study, was whether the applicant had professional training and development work. For example, all of the candidates who were shortlisted for the job had apprenticeships or internships on their resume, as well as having attended training workshops.