Jobs. We all want one, but landing a job sometimes can be harder than it appears. The economy squeezes the job market or makes it more expansive. Either way, when you see a job you love, you aren’t the only interested party. There is a pool of competition, so understanding the best way to apply for a job is essential.
Finding a great job really comes down to applying for the right jobs in the right ways. There are many steps to the process of landing the job you desire. If you shirk in one area, it impacts the whole process.
We’ve outlined the step-by-step, best way to apply for a job to make you stand out from the crowd.
1. Create a master resume
A master resume isn’t the resume you actually submit. It helps you create a streamlined application process by listing all of your skills, education, jobs, and experience in one place. For each job you apply for, you create a target resume highlighting your relevant skills and experience, and you have access to it all in your master resume. You also use your master resume for places such as your LinkedIn profile.
A master resume is an active document; whenever you complete a project, update your master resume.
Here are a few tips to include in your master resume:
-Give yourself a title such as: Freelance Editor or New Business Consultant
-Develop a short, career-centric mission statement
-List out your relevant education (if you have any college or graduate school degree, you don’t need to list your high school graduation)
-Put relevant work experience in chronological order
-List out additional extracurricular activities, eg. professional writer’s group, any publications, volunteer services
-Add action words based on the job field you want to continue to grow in as many HR systems are now automated and look for specific keywords
-Proofread, proofread, proofread! Nothing turns off a prospective employer like a typo. Use a program like Grammarly to help catch your errors.
2. Find a job
Treat looking for a job like a job itself. Set aside specific times in your week dedicated to the job search and application process. It is cumbersome and time-consuming. Thinking you can just apply within 15 minutes leaves you disappointed and sending out job applications that don’t make you shine.
Look on job search websites for the career field. A few of the biggest:
Use your device with a job search app:
Jobs By Careerbuilder
Linkedin Job Search
Research job sites specific to your region:
Craigslist (Note: Craigslist is doing a terrific job filtering spam and expired posts. You should go check it out if you haven’t already.)
Other sites, use search terms like:
“[your city] area jobs”
“[your city] job boards”
“[your city] in Phoenix”
Research job sites specific to your industry. I am a writer and editor and like to work for nonprofits, so I follow job boards for communications and nonprofits to narrow down my search.
3. Create a cover letter
Once you have found a job you want to apply for, review the job description a few times. Parrot the languages and keywords the employer uses. For example, if you describe yourself as an independent worker, but the job posting uses wording such as self-starter. Essentially, you are saying the same thing, but using their wording connects with them. This is an important step in the best way to apply for a job.
Your cover letter should only be about three paragraphs: introduction, selling yourself, conclusion. Whether you are attaching the cover letter, pasting it in an email, or snail mailing it, it must be done professionally!
-Add your information header that matches your resume information header
-Include the employer’s contact information
-Address the letter either: To Whom It May Concern or Dear Mr., Ms.
-Always remember, you’re not texting with a friend. Use full words and approach them as a professional.
-If you aren’t sure how to format a professional cover letter, Google it for examples.
Finally, you are ready to apply to your job. Read over the directions more than once and make sure you haven’t missed specific directions. Some companies simply want you to email them with your cover letter and resume. But many employers have a variety of hoops they want you to jump through from filling out online applications to adding writing samples to doing a sample project. Provide your resume in a PDF form to ensure an accidental mess up doesn’t occur.
If you miss a specific instruction, your application most likely will be thrown out. Before you hit send, double check and make sure everything is exactly the way they requested.
5. Look for a point of contact
A personalized cover letter connects you to the hiring manager or recruiter and helps you stand out when applying for a job. It also shows initiative on your part.
6. Follow-up on your status
Take time to send a quick (and confident) follow-up about a week or two after you submit your application. You can send an email or make a quick phone call because you have your point of contact from point five. Don’t take too much of their time because you go from an impressive go-getter to wondering who is this person still talking about themselves?
Be sure to check the job description for a request for no follow-up. Some employers do not want follow-up phone calls, and it is important to honor those requests.
Applying for a job seems overwhelming, but if you put the time and effort into the process, you will land your job in no time. Do you have any additional tips? Share them in the comments below and we might just add them on this list above!