If you’re the type of job applicant that sends the same documents to every potential employer, you might luck out and find a job. But if you really want to impress people, find a company you love, and engage the people you might be working with, you should consider running a serious process in crafting each and every job application.
Here are 10 steps you should take while putting together each part of your job application to stand out and impress the hiring manager. Note that each step has a link to an article with further detail on how to accomplish the task!
Writing your resume
Step 1: Analyze the job listing - Your very first task when writing or editing your resume for a role is to read through the job listing in detail. That document doesn’t exist just for show. If it’s well-written, it includes clear signals on what information to include in your resume and what the hiring manager wants to see out of candidates. Most ignore it. Get an upper hand by catering your resume based on what you find there.
Step 2: Focus on simplicity - Once you’re comfortable with the content of your resume, it’s time to revise with a focus on readability. A hiring manager looks at dozens of resumes for every role they’re looking to fill. Focus on simplicity with a clean design and short, pointed sentences. The easier your resume is to read and understand, the easier it will be for the reader to understand your qualifications and determine your value.
Step 3: Avoid mistakes - Mistakes and oversights in your resume are a surefire way to fast-track your application to the reject pile. Throughout the job search, you’ll be applying to a lot of jobs and might be tempted to cut corners. For the sake of a well-crafted application, pay attention to what you put in your resume. Hiring managers look for details both small and large to eliminate candidates. A silly mistake, whether obvious or subtle, can cost you a shot at an interview.
Crafting your cover letter
Step 1: Master the basics - You’ll be writing a lot of cover letters as you search for a job. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be sending a unique and personalized cover letter for each role you apply to. Mastering the basics of writing cover letters, from how to cater to a company to how to write an effective call to action, will make the process a whole lot faster and will result in more effective company outreach.
Step 2: Build your own theme - Standing out from the crowd of other cover letters isn’t easy. Writing a unique cover letter is a difficult balancing act of staying professional, giving the right amount of information, and showing your uniqueness and personality. A theme based on your personal and professional background can help you tell your story more effectively. Check out these 6 cover letter themes and their pros & cons.
Step 3: Do’s and Don’ts - There are a lot of best practices to writing a cover letter. There are a lot of really bad habits as well. Two things are crucial: DO send a cover letter with each application and DON’T send the same exact letter with every application. Beyond that, focus on letting your personality shine through, avoid lying, and use the right tone with each company. Check out this list of cover letter do’s and don’ts to make your cover letter the best it can be.
Reach out to the right person
Step 1: Send a cold email - A cold email to the hiring manager is often the better, more effective way of applying for a job. The resume black hole of automated application tracking software can be circumvented in some circumstances. There are important components to a great cold email that can help you get noticed by your dream company. Learn them and don’t hesitate to send a cold email if you think it can help you stand out.
Step 2: Network for opportunity - Finding the right person to reach out to for a job opportunity is a whole lot easier if you’ve already met them in person. Whether at job fairs, networking events, or even company happy hours, you might be able to find a person whose team is hiring. Even if they’re not the hiring manager themselves, building a relationship with them is a great way to get your foot in the door. Here’s how to network with other professionals effectively.
Step 1: Send a follow-up email - An email directly to the hiring manager a week after you applied is a great way to stay fresh on their mind and remind them of your application. Too many job seekers avoid doing this because they don’t want to appear annoying or bothersome. But hiring managers are busy people - they have to perform their hiring tasks on top of their regular duties. Things slip through the cracks. Properly following up can help you land more interviews.
Step 2: Understand hiring decision-making - A critical part of job seeking is time. It takes time for hiring managers to read through resumes and conduct interviews. It takes time to decide which candidates to move forward in the process and which ones to turn down. Job seekers often mistake the time it takes to make a diligent hiring decision as disrespect. Understanding how hiring decisions are actually made can help you avoid frustration and stay patient.
Looking for more guidance? Check out our all-in-one, step by step guide to crafting the perfect job application.