With the move to online job searching, more and more companies are directing applicants to their websites in order to complete an online application. However, there are still times when you'll be given a job application to fill out and return.
If you've never had to deal with a job application before or if it's been a long time, completing an application can be a challenge. One problem that causes frustration is that the requested information is structured in a way that may not give you the opportunity to really market yourself. The blanks are often small, forcing you to compress what you had planned to say or only giving the barest of details. It's important to keep in mind that even if you don't care for the application, this is how the employer wants you to give it to them. Just like a resume, the overall impact of your job application will be the determining factor in being asked for an interview.
There are some things you can do to make your application stand out. Here are a few tips:
Make a copy of the application before you begin. This was an idea that I'm embarrassed to admit that I never thought of until I began researching for this blog. If you don't have access to a copy machine, you might be able to find one at your local library or post office. Also, if you have a scanner/printer combo, there is often a copy option. By making copies of the application, you can use one as a rough draft and once you have everything correct, simply copy it over for a final draft that's neat and free from errors. If you aren't able to use a copy machine, at least sketch out the application on a sheet of paper and write down everything before writing on the actual application.
Use black ink or type the application. Many experts suggest typing you application in order to make it look neater. It's a really good idea, however, if you're like me, you don't have access to a typewriter. After all, who still has those lying around? If you are able, you can scan the document into your computer and fill it out using a word processing program and then print it, but not everyone knows how to do that. If typing isn't an option, it's perfectly acceptable to neatly print the information in black ink. This is another place where having several copies of the application help. It's more difficult to write neatly when you're thinking. When you copy the information over for your final draft, you can be as neat as possible.
Fill out the application completely. It's really tempting to skip over difficult parts like your educational experience or work history and instead just attach a copy of your resume and cover letter. Don't make this mistake. Often, employers will look at your resume and cover letter as supplemental information. It's always best to fill in each blank on the application. If certain questions aren't applicable, simply mark them with "N/A." When filling out the previous work experience section, be sure to give current contact information for each employer. Since space is limited, be sure to start your sentences with verbs when you are describing your previous job duties.
Keep a copy of every application. After you complete your final draft, make a copy of the application to keep with your records. If you are asked for an interview, bring the copy with you so that you have something to refer back to. Also, having copies of completed applications with all of the information already written in really makes the process easier when you fill out a new one.
Job application don't have to be hard. When you're accustomed to submitting resumes and cover letters, they can sometimes be confusing. With a little forethought and preparation, they can be simple.
Have you had to fill out a job application lately? What were your experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Additional Source: Eastern Shore Career Guide
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