By: Indeed Editorial Team
Applying for a job is an important step in the hiring process. Your application shows your interest in the job and informs the employer of your relevant skills and experience. Knowing how to complete a job application well can have a significant impact on your chances of receiving an invitation to interview. In this article, we explore some steps and suggestions for how to successfully complete and submit a job application.
How to complete a job application
Submitting a job application is often the first contact you have with a potential employer, so you better make a good impression. Knowing what to write and what the hiring manager is looking for will help you to submit an application that gets you an interview. There are several important steps that you should follow when completing your job application. You should:
1. Read over the job application
Reading the job application may seem like an obvious step but people frequently skip it. Even if you scanned the job description before you decided to apply, it is still a good idea to go back and read it a couple of more times to make sure you did not miss any details. Employers typically receive hundreds of applications for a position. One of the most common methods they will use to narrow the applicant pool is to eliminate anyone who they think did not read the job description or requirements.
Many employers also use something known as an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is an automated system that can be fine-tuned to reject applications that are missing information or do not have the right keywords. Even though you may not be able to completely predict what the ATS is looking for, you can still advance your application in the system by making sure to include the correct information.
2. Use a professional name and email address
A professional job application calls for a professional email address. Some employers might disqualify an applicant for having an unprofessional email, even if the rest of their resume shows they are perfect for the job.
If you need to create a professional email address, you may want to use a free email service to create an email account that you will use specifically for your professional life. Use your first and last name or a variant and use it for all your job applications. It is never a bad idea to separate work communication from personal communication. During your job search might be the perfect time to do so.
3. Follow the instructions
Sometimes a field calls for a full paragraph, a couple of sentences or just a “yes” or “no.” There are also fields that require you to spend some time answering in-depth questions. Regardless of what the specific questions require, make sure you are answering them correctly. Read the question a couple of times to make sure you understand and take some time to formulate a thorough answer.
There are employers who ask a variety of types of questions, including character, behavioral and hypothetical. If you want to increase your chances of success, you need to respond to these questions effectively and accurately. Not all applications will include long answer questions, but it never hurts to adhere closely to the instructions. Taking care while filling out the information demonstrates to an employer that you are a worthy candidate and invested in the hiring process.
4. Tailor your cover letter to the job
Environments like job fairs require you to repeatedly give the same documents to multiple companies. However, if you are applying for a specific job in person or online, you will want to tailor your cover letter and resume to suit the application. Before writing or editing your cover letter, look through the job description and pay attention to the kind of employee they are looking for. The job description has information that includes the required educational background, what type of personality fits the position, and the skill set they would prefer a candidate to possess.
Draw on the information in the job description and write a cover letter that frames you as the perfect candidate. Keep your sentences concise but impactful. Include as much relevant information as you can efficiently fit into a page’s worth of paragraphs. If the employer likes what they read, they will use the interview process to learn more about the goals or skills you mentioned in your cover letter.
5. Include keywords in your resume
Review the description and find words that look like they relate to traits, skills or experiences that the company is looking for. Use them tactfully throughout your resume and cover letter. There is no need to be heavy-handed with them; a few subtle references are sufficient.
Make sure to include keywords that portray you as capable of fulfilling the job requirements. For example, if the job has any technical specifications, highlight your practical skills, relevant degrees or academic courses. If the job requires you to interact regularly with customers or coworkers, mention your interpersonal and communication skills.
6. Check your responses for errors
Misspellings and grammar errors show an employer you did not care enough to take the time to proofread or that you are not proficient with written communication. Most jobs require basic communication skills, so not putting in the effort to submit a resume that is free from spelling errors, uses the correct pronouns and follows other grammar rules can hinder your chances of being hired.
Take your time when filling out the application. If you are not sure of how well you have done in terms of error correction, ask someone to look at the application for you and make corrections if they find anything wrong. An error-free application is far more likely to at least be looked at than an application that is full of easily-avoidable mistakes.
7. Track your applications when applying for multiple jobs
Remember to keep careful track of all your online job profiles, so you know where you have applied and the roles you have applied to. Keep a spreadsheet or a list of the company names and roles you have applied to, to create a quick reference.
Occasionally, you might find that you qualify for multiple roles in one company, and you may decide to apply for several. What you don’t want to do is to make a profile for every job you apply for. If the application system has a “shopping cart” for job listings you qualify for, put them into the cart for one account. Then, it will be easier to track what you have applied for in the event you get calls about multiple roles by different people. It is always a good idea to know exactly what someone is talking about when they call concerning an interview.
8. Tidy your social media profiles
In the modern era, it is common for employers to look at your social media profiles. They want to know something about the person they are hiring and they feel that Facebook and other social media sites are good sources. Go over your profiles and consider removing anything objectionable. That means deleting posts or comments that might not reflect well on you or that do not represent your current maturity level. It is always a good idea to be aware of and control the image of yourself online.
It is still advisable to create a social media profile in your name and to share some personal information, even if you do not use it often. Familiarity and proficiency with social media is an important skill in the job market today and employers may check your personal accounts to judge your competency.
9. Upload your resume
It may seem counterintuitive to submit the resume after you have entered all the information it contains into fields on the application. However, the applicant tracking system typically does not collect the information you have provided into a printable document and the employer may want to have a paper copy of your resume for reference. Resumes are also easy for the hiring manager to keep on file in case they decide to contact you about a job opening at a later date.
Make sure to name your resume file concisely and efficiently. Include your first and last name and the keyword “resume” for easy searching.
10. Review before submitting
Even though you have may have already reviewed the application for errors and checked that you followed the instructions, you need a final review of your entries before hitting that submit button. Remember: once you have submitted, you cannot make any changes. Once you are satisfied that you have done your best, click the submit button and leave the rest to the hiring team.
If you want to land a position that reflects your experience, education and skillset, you need to apply widely and often. This said, it is common for all the applications to start to look the same. If you can, ask someone else to proofread your resume and cover letter for each application. A second set of eyes can make a big difference. You always increase your chances of finding employment when you focus on portraying yourself as detail-oriented and capable.
Following these tips can help you complete job applications more effectively. If you present your skills positively and accurately, relate your relevant experience well and proofread all your information, you will show yourself to be a more eligible candidate for any position. Use these tips and other Indeed resources to increase your chances of getting the job you want.
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