Whether it’s your first job hunt or you’re a seasoned pro, perfecting your application can be a daunting task—especially if you’ve been job searching for a while and you’re starting to lose steam. Follow these four easy steps and you’ll be well on your way to submitting stellar applications to every job you apply for!
☑Step one: You rule!
If you’re reading this right now and you’re not feeling like your awesome self, take a second to pause and put on your favorite feel-good song. Write down a list of things that you’re good at and then come back to this article. That will put you in a much better position to successfully execute the following four steps! If you’re really stuck, think of your accomplishments at previous jobs or in school, challenges you overcame or compliments you’ve received.
Remember, you have a unique perspective and set of experiences. Now it’s time to put them to work!
☑Step two: Prioritize your new list of prospective jobs and tailor your application to each one
So you’ve written down your list and you’re ready to show every company in the world that they would be crazy not to hire you? Well, okay, applying to every company in the world is not exactly realistic. You’ll have to focus on only a handful. But, which ones? How do you choose? Use a table to organize your thoughts around this. Here’s an example:
Once you’ve created a list of companies you like, see if they have any openings for positions that interest you. Even if they don’t, reach out to the recruiter and fill out an application to join their general applicant pool. Make sure to let them know that you are interested in becoming an X at their company and tell them why (be specific!). And if they do have an open position that interests you, it’s time for the next step — the application!
☑Step three: Apply!
Your application won’t be stellar unless you tailor it to each role you’re applying to. This can seem overwhelming (“I have to write how many different cover letters?!”), but there are steps you can take to make it easier on yourself. First, organize your list of prospective jobs and companies. Make it so that the position you’re most interested in is at the top, and the one that’s more of a “backup plan” is at the bottom. Then, work your way down the list, tailoring your application to each position as you go. Start with the opportunity at the top of your list. Write a unique cover letter for the position and edit your resume so that it showcases your most relevant experiences. If you are applying to similar roles elsewhere, you may be able to reuse that version of your resume or even parts of the cover letter. Once you’ve drafted up your application, use the infographic below to test your draft. If you tell your story well, recruiters will be more likely to advance you to the next round.
☑Step four: Communicate and follow up
After you’ve applied, you’re done right? Wrong! Give the organization or company some time (about a week). If they don’t get back to you in that time, send them a kind and enthusiastic email asking when you should expect to hear back. If you get an email passing you to the next round, congrats!
Reality check: sometimes you get rejected. Rejection is disappointing, but remember it’s also an opportunity to learn and improve your application for the next position that opens up. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback! While recruiters generally have limited time and may not send you a response or feedback, it never hurts to ask.
Pro tip: If you are seriously discouraged by your most recent endeavors to search for a job, consider creating a “Pride Folder.” A “Pride Folder” is a place where you store up little and big things that have made you proud of yourself so that you can return to it when you are feeling down. As an example, you may hold on to test you scored really well on, a note from a student, an email from a coworker, etc. This is a totally made up practice, but it can help remind you of your accomplishments so that you have the confidence you need during a job search.
About Meghan Stanger:
Meghan is the recruiter for Magoosh. She works to find awesome people to join our team while supporting all applicants along the way. A graduate of Tulane University with a BA in International Development and English, Meghan has worked toward providing equal access to excellent education for students both in and out of the classroom. She loves exploring the coast and it’s many amazing surf spots, going on (hopefully successful) camping trips, and planning elaborate April Fool’s Day pranks.
Image at top courtesy of Shutterstock.com / NPFire