Tips For Job Applicants
by, 16-Feb-2011 at 04:09 (805 Views)
This is the first blog entry in what will hopefully become a series, where I share some of the things I've learned in life, in the hopes of helping ADISCers.
Today's topic is: how give yourself a leg up, when applying for a job.
One of my responsibilities in my professional life is sorting incoming job applicants into three piles: "yes", "maybe", and "no".
Most of the time, I am considering candidates who are roughly college-age.
Some have completed college, some are studying now, and some did not go.
Since ADISCers tend to be around that age, I suspect some of you may benefit from my tips about how to avoid the "no" pile.
Tip 1: Target your application
Roughly 80% of applications I see are cookie-cutter.
The applicant is obviously sending the same application to every job they're interested in, or, worse, every job in their area.
When I read an application which doesn't mention the target company by name, I immediately draw the conclusion that this applicant does not really care about getting the job.
Applications which are written to appeal to a broad audience end up appealing to no-one.
If you're applying for a job, tailor your application for that job.
Do some research on the company.
Are they a small company? Highlight other small companies you've worked at.
Do they ask for skill performing a certain task? Highlight cases where you've performed that task, or similar ones, in the past.
Do they mention people skills? Highlight situations which demonstrate that you have those skills.
The key here is showing that your application is highly relevant to the position you're applying for.
The more you can demonstrate that you have the specific things they're looking for, the better your chances are.
Don't be afraid to search many places for job listings. Newspapers, online, etc.
Applying to the best-fitting jobs from many sources is far better than applying to all the jobs listed at a single source.
Tip 2: Spellcheck & proofread
Approximately 20-30% of the applications I'm used to getting have either not been spellchecked, or not been proofread.
As a result, they contain silly errors, like "graduated 20009".
Not spellchecking/proofreading is a sure-fire way to make an applicant appear sloppy.
Always spellcheck, and then proofread, any application that you submit.
If you have a trusted adult friend, it can be helpful to ask them to read your resume, too.
I did this when applying for jobs, and the advice I got made a big difference to me.
Tip 3: Follow the instructions - especially regarding cover letters
Around 30% of applications I see are rejected because our job ad said to include a covering letter, and they did not do so.
Applicants should always read the job ad carefully, and follow its instructions precisely.
Hiring managers do not have time to deal with applications from people who can't read the listed requirements.
Tip 4: Prepare references in advance
Typically, when I am considering hiring someone, I talk to everyone that person has worked for (e.g: all their previous bosses), for the last eight years.
Many companies are not that strict. Still, remember that your current boss' opinion of you will matter long after you leave your current job.
Always, always, ensure your boss is happy with you.
Where possible, ensure that there are multiple people (especially senior people) you can call on for references.
You will be thankful you did - when you get an interview for that dream job, and your references are the thing that gets you in the door.
References don't have to be past bosses. They can be college-level teachers, or anyone who knows well what you're capable of.
Just make sure you have them, and that they speak well of you. Ideally, that they speak well of your ability to do the jobs you're applying for.
Tip 5: Consider other places
The current economy is tough to find a job in.
Your odds of finding a good job are vastly increased if you widen your search to other parts of the country you live in.
Do not do so blindly (would you really be happy living in a very hot/cold location?) - but do think about where you'd be willing to live, and consider searching for similar jobs in those areas as well.