Why we reject applications

Job opportunities with abbywinters.com, Amsterdam

We have prepared these guidelines to ensure your application gets a fair assessment by us, and to help prepare you for our interview process.

We have around 100 people apply for each role we advertise. This is great for us, giving us lots of choice, but it can make it hard for an applicant to stand out from the crowd. A real human reads every application we receive (and we do not use automated tools to assess applications).

Many applications we discard because they are poorly presented or poorly written. We don’t have time to consider an applicant who is poorly presented, when we have 80 other folks who are excellently presented.

That does not mean you need to get a graphic designer involved in your resume design – any of the standard templates out there are fine.

Your resume must be logically presented, clearly written, and reflect all the aspects we detail below.

Reasons we do not reject applications

But first, some reasons we do not reject applications;

  • Your sex
    • There are no roles in our organisation that require a specific sex (apart from that of model, but models are recruited via a separate process)
  • Your sexuality
    • We operate in the sex industry, but we don’t care what your sexual desires or practises are
  • The country you live in
    • All our people work from home, in a range of timezones on most continents in the world. Where you live makes no difference to us (and we enjoy working with people who bring new perspectives to our workplace)
  • Your race
    • We do not care what race you are.
  • You physical abilities
    • So long as you can do the work, we don’t care if you are differently-abled.
  • Your mental health
    • If there are some accommodations we need to make for you, let us know early in the conversation, so we can ensure your comfort.

Skillset does not match

We often reject applications from people whose skillset does not match. We always make clear what skillsets we require in our job ads. If something in our job ad is not clear to you, we welcome questions before your formal submission.

If the skillset listed seems close or similar-and-related to what we need, we continue assessing the application.

We often get applications for highly technical roles (or roles that require specify a bunch of relevant experience) from people who have no relevant experience. We ignore these applications (and if you’re someone who does this, why are you wasting your time and our time?!).

Experience does not match

We often reject applications because the amount of experience we require is not evident in the candidate’s application. When we state the experience we require in a job ad, we always specify that it needs to be in a real-world, commercial environment.

We’re generally very flexible in this regard, for example;

  • We require seven years’ experience, you have six: we’ll consider your application
  • We require three years’ experience in a certain area of work, you have three years in a different-but-related area of work: we’ll consider your application.
  • We require five years’ experience, you have one year: we’ll reject your application. This role is not for you.

Subsequent reasons for rejecting an application

There are two subsequent reasons we reject applications are from people who might be suitable, but don’t present themselves well;

  1. Applicant provides details on their duties at previous roles, but not their achievements
  2. Applicant sends a generic cover-letter, that does not respond to any of areas we are looking for.

Read on for tips on how to avoid these mistakes.

Read the job ad thoroughly

We make an effort to craft a job ad to ensure it communicates exactly what we want. Don’t assume more (or less) than the ad says. We always list requirements for people applying for this role.

Occasionally, we’ll be so blown away by an applicant’s other skills, that we will accept not matching on one requirement… but that’s rare. Be up front if you don’t match, and in your cover letter, indicate why that requirement might not apply to you (the most common is, lack for formal training, but significant time of real-world experience). If you don’t do this, your application will likely be rejected outright.

Consider that this role… just may not be right for you. If you like the sound of us, subscribe to our mailing list (top left of this page) to be notified of new roles as they become available.

Research what we do, and what we stand for.

Knowing what we do when you interview with us is a good start. Having an informed opinion on how we do it will impress us! (you’d really be disappointed how many people open with “Wait, who are you guys again?”).

We love feedback and we thrive on criticism. Analysis of our product within your area of expertise is sure to make you look good. Not remembering what role you applied for when we call does not make you look like the sharpest tack in the box, ya know?

We love it when applicants ask us questions that are difficult to answer – it shows they are thinking outside the box. That’s the kind of person we want to work with!

Review our website’s free areas. Warning – there is a bunch of nudity on our site, it’s not for the faint hearted. It’s definitely not for children. Careful if you’re checking it out at work! Take the free tour. This gives a good indication of the breadth of what we do, but not the depth. So, also:

Consider what your partner may feel about you working with a company that produces erotica. Depending on your role, you may have nothing to do with actual content – you may even never see it – but some people have a problem with what we do.

Don’t waste your time and ours if you know your partner or family would never “let” you work with us.

We recommend you don’t lie to your partner about where you work, either… People have done it before, and the results were bad for everyone.

Make a good cover letter

We get it.

You’re trawling the jobs site, and you hit “Apply” for as many roles that might possibly suit you, hoping that one or two will respond. You have crafted a generic resume and cover letter, to ensure they will be relevant for any Company you apply for.

It’s easy… But it’s also bad, and here’s why.

Write a cover letter that responds to our ad.

Sending your default cover letter (which is, by requirement, bland) indicates to us you’re not very interested in our role. We don’t want to work with bland or disinterested people.

TIP: Your cover letter should not just regurgitate your CV in paragraph form!

Talk about what we’re looking for, and relate that to why you’re ideal. Use concepts from our job listing.

Make your cover letter about us

We apologise in advance for being egotistical: Make your cover letter about us, not you. Even if it’s stuff we already know (or, even if it is a criticism), even better is ideas on how we could do better; this sends the message that you’re thinking, you have done research, you’re astute, and you’re ready to help us make something awesome.

You can see how that’d appeal to a potential employer, right?

Use your cover letter to back yourself

Never use words like “I believe that…” or “I’m confident that…”, “I’ve never <specific requirement listed in ad>, but I’m a fast learner…”. Commit, and be confident (but don’t lie, either).

If the ad does not say “Perfect for fast learners” (sometimes, our ads do actually say this), this role might not be for you.

Ensure your cover letter is not too long

Ensure your cover letter is never more than a page, preferably less. PDF, please.

Polish your resume

We think these tips will help anyone applying for any job. 

Help us understand your previous roles

We may not be aware of the subtleties of your previous roles, so help us understand.

On your resume, when you list the name of companies you have worked for in the past, describe what they do in a brief sentence. This is not necessary if the company is a worldwide household name (say “Google”), but err on the side of caution. Don’t assume we know the name of the largest olive oil producer in a suburb of a small city in a different country. Please err on the side of caution. For example:

2011 to 2016: Worked for Jenmep Co (office supplies manufacturer – staplers and hole punch division)

Include your role title, and provide a sentence describing what that role is in a nutshell. Don’t assume we know your industry parlance, even if it seems to you like we should. For example:

Quality tester. Used standard tests to ensure 1 in every 100 staplers stapled within accepted parameters, and that hole punchers holes’ were the right size and distance apart.

List your significant responsibilities in your previous roles in point form. For example:

Able to test 325 staplers per hour (minimum expectation 250 per hour). Company run for 45 years, I hold the record for most staplers tested in a month! 🏆

Tell us about your achievements

This is one of the most significant parts of your resume. Your achievements are way more important to us than your responsibilities (what if you were “responsible” for an area in the business, but did not do very well at it?). List your achievements in each role, in point form.

These must be specific, tangible, measurable, and usually numeric. If you had Key Performance Indicators in this role, list them, and include what you achieved on average (if you are shaping up to be a successful candidate, we will check the accuracy with your previous employer).

An example of some good, meaningful achievements might be:

Improved testing processes so product reliability was improved. This reduced the number of staplers tested in an hour, but the more rigorous testing meant a higher percentage of working staplers left the factory (98% to 99.5% over three months), and less returns from end users. My boss said this was totally worth the cost of implementing! 💯.

An example of some meaningless “achievements” include:

“Documented company procedures”

We would wonder: Which procedures? Were they approved? What docs were in place beforehand? Are they being used still? What was the scope? How big was the document? What was the time-frame? Were they delivered on time? Were you just a writer, or did you form the actual procedure AND write it? We’d probably place this sort of resume on the “Maybe” or “No” pile.

“Performed research as necessary”

We would wonder: On what? How? Time-frame? What did it result in? Were you responsible for all the research, or just a small part? Did the research you did result in the success of a project? By how much in $ or %? Again, we’d probably place this sort of resume on the “Maybe” or “No” pile.

Provide actual, real world, commercial-environment examples

For most roles we advertise, we’re interested in your actual, real-world work experience, in a commercial environment.

We do make exceptions, but you’d need to address why we should consider you, in your cover letter.

Volunteer work in a relevant field is good, but not as meaningful as paid work in a commercial environment. Volunteer work in unrelated fields (for example, charity work) is always a good thing, so don’t be shy about that.


It’s a cliche, but communication is important. Being able to have a conversation (by email, voice or video) that flows, is comfortable and engaging for all parties is an important of getting work done. English is the language we use to communicate.

If we’re not able to communicate with you effectively, we will not proceed with your application. Poor communication is a common reason for rejecting candidates after a voice or video call. Problems can be exacerbated by poor voice / video call setup or ettiquitte – see the “preparing the space” section of our Preparing for your interview page for tips.

Some bonus tips

We’re looking for people with the right skills for the role, but also the right person for the role.

We want people who can communicate effectively and concisely, who have a sense of humour, who are organised, who show attention to detail, and who present well.

You can have all the skill in the world, but if you’re not able to communicate effectively, you’re not suitable for working with us. We believe that life’s too short to waste on people who cannot communicate effectively.

If your resume has similar, but no actual experience in the area we require, discuss this fact in your cover letter, and indicate why the skills you have are transferable (not why you “think” they “might” be).

If you’re older than 15, do not mention the primary school you went to, unless you are being funny (or it was kiddie MENSA).

Next: Preparing for your interview.