Job Application Process: Tips for Efficiency and Success
Applying for jobs can take weeks. Consider your weekly salary and the time you invest in the application process. How could you optimize this time to get the best results?
1. Analyze each job description carefully.
- Read the target job description with a highlighter or a pen.
- Mark the key requirements and note the word choice and the sequence in which they appear.
- Address each of the requirements in your resume and cover letter.
- On your resume, update career summary and the list of core skills to match the target position.
- Check if the accomplishments listed on your resume match the target position.
- Show your audience that you took the time to understand what they need.
2. Leave out or trim anything in your application that is not related to the target role.
Your readers are busy people skimming through numerous applications. You want to minimize their cognitive load and the time they spend scanning your documents for the skills they need.
- Put yourself in the potential employer’s shoes.
- Mark the lines on your application that would not matter to them.
- Remove phrases like “References available upon request” and lists of hobbies.
- Abbreviate positions older than 10 years to key measurable results or position titles only.
- Use every line on your resume and cover letter in your favor in the context of a specific target role.
- If applicable, keep your resume to 1-2 full pages and the cover letter to one full page.
3. Draft effective — not generic — cover letters.
Draft your letter carefully and in an engaging manner, assuming that this is where your dialogue with the potential employer begins. Clarity and preparation will make you stand out and get you the interview.
- Copy and paste or write down 3-4 main requirements from the target job description.
- These requirements can shape the paragraph structure of your cover letter.
- Address the requirements
- in separate paragraphs of equal length (4-6 lines)
- in the order they appear in the job description.
- Alternatively, focus on why you are passionate about this job.
- Use specific and recent examples throughout the paragraphs.
- When providing examples, quantify improvements you delivered.
4. Print out your application documents and proofread them from paper.
- Use this as a break from the familiar way your text looks on screen.
- Note small design flaws like 1-3 words overflowing to the next line.
- Tighten the lines by cutting wordiness where appropriate.
5. Follow up and show interest.
Based on what you learned about the company and its team from their website and the job description, consider following up 5 business days after your application was submitted.
- If you do not get a confirmation, assume that there could be a problem with technology or your application was not directed to the right person. Check with the organization if it was received.
- Follow up within 5 business days to show interest and offer additional information (your portfolio, references sheet, work samples).
- Try to locate the hiring or senior professionals on LinkedIn. Connect with them and reiterate your availability.
Some employers discourage follow-up, and if so, it will be stated clearly in the job description. If not, connect—on more than one occasion—with the company you’re interested in.
6. Make phone contact where appropriate.
If a recruiter or the organization provided their phone number in the job description, it might be a good idea to call them. They may be more responsive on the phone and will notice your resume faster.
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