Job Application Process: Overcoming Misconceptions
If you are setting out to find a new job and feel held back by some of the ideas below, I offer a few ways to reconsider them and move closer to reaching your goals.
1. Too many jobs on my CV show the lack of continuity.
Action: Focus on your current goals and intrinsic motivation.
The number of roles and employers on your CV is not automatically indicative of the lack of continuity on your end. Many positions today are contracts that may or may not be extended based on market fluctuations and business needs. Employees also leave environments that have unsatisfactory work ethic (harassment, dishonesty, lack of quality leadership, etc.).
When interviewing, you should not expect to be confronted about the number of roles on your CV. If asked, provide a truthful response that focuses on how you can integrate your recent skills to deliver value in the target role. Give specific examples of interesting and significant projects closely related to the target employer’s needs. Express your commitment to growing within their organization.
2. There’s a significant gap on my resume.
Action: Recognize the full value of your choice.
Perhaps you took a break to care for a family member in illness, take care of your own health, raise children, or explore the world. It is not a disadvantage when it comes to hiring decisions. For many people, this ‘gap’ may be the most important job they have done to date and a profound source of learning and maturity.
Career Consultant Kirsty Bonner provides examples of how to address the gap:
“1. Tell the truth. 2. Be precise and concise. 3. Don’t overshare. 4. Don’t ramble. 5. Don’t get emotional.
E.g. ‘I had to take 6 months out to focus on my children.’ And STOP!
‘I had to take a year out as my spouse was seriously ill.’ And STOP!
‘One of my parents passed away and I had to take a year out to take care of family matters.’ And STOP!”
Depending on the interview type and your activities during the gap (volunteering, professional development, networking, conference attendance, travel), you could choose to add brief, pertinent examples of the skills learned during the break, connecting them to the target role.
3. I don’t have the formal education required for my target roles (and cannot invest into coursework in the near future).
Action: Clarify if the employer would consider your experience.
Job descriptions are drafted with an ideal candidate in mind, but some employers would not like to miss a good candidate who has a slightly different profile. If the application process is time-consuming, start by identifying all of your applicable strengths and reaching out to the HR with these details to clarify if you may apply.
If the application is not too complex, focus on these strengths in your cover letter, offer to take any tests they may require, and make it clear how your combination of enthusiasm and experience is the right fit. The important point is to show that you understand the employer’s needs and can meet them.
4. I don’t have the required number of years of experience.
Action: Assess the job description for flexibility.
Read the job description carefully for key requirements; if you can meet all or most of them with the training and experience you have while being a few required years short, craft your cover letter using specific examples of the value you can deliver.
5. I’m transitioning from the academia to industry, so I need to take an entry-level position.
Action: Write a list of your transferable skills. Write a list of top target employers and desired roles.
Being in transition like this does not necessarily imply that you need to start at a lower level than desired. Assess your skills and goals carefully and look for an optimal next place to be. Emphasize the value you are prepared to deliver and your knowledge of the industry: projects, associations, conferences, networking, and recent training related to your target role should be highlighted in your application documents.
6. It sounds like my dream job and I am uniquely qualified, but I cannot accommodate a full-time schedule at that particular location at the moment.
Action: Apply, negotiate, clarify, and build a relationship for potential collaboration.
Inquire about flexible work options or other similar projects this employer may have in a remote format. You can ask right away, before applying, or later in the process when you are invited to an interview. Flexible options are becoming more common as companies want to retain talent and create conditions for their employees’ well-being and efficiency.
Wherever you are in your career development, if an ad looks like your dream job, connect with the employer, introduce yourself, and start a dialogue. Doors may open later on.
If one or more of these six thoughts apply to your job search process, I hope the suggestions above help you shift focus to representing your talents with specific examples and showing target employers how you are qualified to meet their needs.
About the author:
Tanya Mykhaylychenko is a professional resume writer with a background in content writing, university teaching, and IT staffing. She is a member of Editors Canada and Career Professionals of Canada. For more information, please visit https://tm-editorial.com/about/.