Your Job Application Checklist: Don’t Skip These 4 Steps!

To get the job you want, you need to craft a stand-out application. This can take significant time and effort.  Following the guidelines below will undoubtedly slow the pace at which you can apply for open positions, but what you lose in quantity, will be more than made up for with quality.

Here are the proven tactics to help you craft a job application that gets you noticed and lands you an interview.

1. Do your research

Before you apply for a position, you should research the employer and learn about the organization. Review their website and social media profile. Understand the products or services they provide. Find out who their competitors are. See if you can learn about the organization’s internal culture.

Spending time on research serves you on two levels. First, it will give you a sense if the organization is a good fit for your needs and whether the job is actually something you want to do. (There’s little sense in applying if you wouldn’t accept the job, if offered.) Second, it provides the information you’ll need to complete your killer application.

2. Customize the application

It’s not enough to use a generic cover letter and resume, and simply swap out the employer’s name. Every application you prepare should be customized around the unique needs and qualifications outlined in the job description. Why? Because employers aren’t looking to hire a well-rounded employee; they are looking for someone who can address specific organizational needs. Your application must show that you can meet and overcome these specific challenges.

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In practice, this means that you may choose to exclude some past positions from your resume in order to emphasize other, more relevant work experiences. The most important thing here is to frame your skills and experiences in a way that directly applies to needs of the job for which you are applying.

Another important reason to customize your application is that it helps you with keyword-based automatic tracking systems. The more keywords and phrases you can copy from the job description, the more likely you are to be approved through this screening process.

3. Always include a cover letter

Cover letters are another opportunity to share how your skills and experience–especially those developed over the course of your work history–directly address the employer’s needs. It also allows you to create a narrative about yourself and your professional history while showcasing your writing skills.

Not every application process requires a cover letter but it is always a good idea to include one. A good cover letter signals your interest in the job and will help you stand out from other applications.

4. Share your enthusiasm

“I am excited about this position because…”

If you can’t sincerely complete this sentence, you probably shouldn’t bother applying for the job. Employers want to hire excited and engaged workers–people who want the opportunity for something more than a paycheck.

More importantly, applying for jobs that don’t excite you is self-defeating; even if you get the position, you’re unlikely to feel satisfied in the long run.

Find out what genuinely interests you about the prospective job. It might be a new challenge, or working in a new sector. Maybe this job is the next logical step in your long-term professional roadmap. Perhaps it’s the company that you admire. Whatever it is, make sure you earnestly share your excitement in your application.

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