3 Steps to an Effective Job Application

Are you the one person on earth who finds the process of putting job applications together fun? If so, congratulations. You enjoy an activity that is almost universally hated and there is no need to read on.

If you do not love job searching but want to grow in your career, on your own terms, you will likely benefit from the below recommendations.

Why Am I so Stressed Out?

A study conducted by Hired, a recruiting and technology organization found that the only life events found to be more stressful than job searching were “divorce” and “death of a loved one.” If you have found job searching stressful in the past, that is okay. Clearly you are not alone. 

Deep Dive Careers, Job Search Stress, Job Application Misery

Put Stress in its Place

How can a job-seeker act with confidence when there is an endless stream of advice on the web that is often contradictory? At least in school, you have a rubric to follow. When you put together a new piece of furniture, you have an instruction manual. When you search for a good job, you have nothing.

Some job-seekers resort to the outdated logic that job searching is some sort of a numbers game. These individuals are known to apply the Amazon “1-click order” mindset to their job search and use Indeed or other job boards to fire off as many copies of their resume as possible. Others overwhelm themselves and go down a long, winding path of over-thinking, editing, proofreading, and perfection-seeking behavior.  

Whether you are obsessed with efficiency, a diligent over-thinker who will sacrifice several hours on just one job application, or somewhere in between, the below steps will help you implement a more effective and less stressful approach. 

The Steps

The only goal of your resume, cover letter, and application is to generate enough interest in your candidacy to earn an interview invitation. Just like any conversation with a friend, a school assignment, or presentation, success is measured by how well you address the topics that your audience cares about.

The following written process helps you overcome your own biases, expand your mind, and prioritize your most relevant talking points. Most people undercut their chances of getting noticed because they apply without first doing this “deep dive,” written exercise.

brainstorm, prepare, strategy

3 Steps to Preparing a Job Application

  1. Gather Information: List the top 5 or so things you think the hiring manager will want in a candidate.

Use the job description to write what you think the employer most desires in a candidate. Your wants, desires, and skills should not be part of your thinking during this step. This is quick and easy, just list what you see in the job description.

  1. Self-Reflect: From your list, write down ways you have demonstrated your ability to perform these job duties.

Focus more on how what you have done relates than on the skill itself. Your ability to tell a compelling story of how your skills relate is your most powerful asset. How have you accomplished a similar task? How does this demonstrate your ability to perform the duties of the job. Take a deep dive by thinking beyond the surface and write ideas down. Write as many as you can.

Few people naturally do this effectively which is why you must write it down.

  1. Persuade: Using your newfound insights, determine what will make you stand out the most from other candidates.

Highlight or otherwise mark down your most important findings. Now that you know what your strengths are for the job, you are ready to create a well-tailored application. This exercise will guide you in writing your resume, cover letter, and preparing notes for your interview.

Give yourself at least 10 minutes. If it takes longer than 30 minutes, chances are you are overthinking things.

Heads you Win – Tails you still Win – Wait, Really?

After completing this process, you may find that your confidence will increase because you now see why you are a great fit. If this happens, congratulations. Enjoy this jolt of excitement and positive energy. You can now focus on how you will most effectively help the hiring manager understand why you are the best fit.

Conversely, you may decide that you do not have enough of the skills to have a realistic shot at landing an interview. If this happens, you still win because you gain clarity and understanding about what you will need for your next career steps. You may want to apply to a job with a different skill set, or gain deeper understanding of the skills you will need to accumulate. Better yet, you may now be inspired to go find a company who is hiring for something that is a better fit.

Recognizing that there are better jobs to pursue a huge time saver and stress-reducer. In the stressful world of job searching, we need all the relief we can get.

Your Foundation of Job Searching

Empowerment, Deep Dive, Spread your Wings

There is much more to a job search than a resume alone. In fact many experts argue that the resume is highly over-rated in its ability to land you a job. When you complete these 3 steps EVERY time you are interested in a role, you will naturally get better at persuading the gatekeepers of your potential value. You will also develop a better understanding of who you are professionally.

Knowing which companies and roles you are a great fit for, and knowing why you are a great fit is the foundation of job searching. Taking a structured deep dive in this way will save you lots of time and stress. Maybe you can even kick job searching out of your top ten most dreaded life activities.

Give this philosophy a try and make it uniquely yours. Good luck and may the force of these 3-steps to job searching and career clarity be with you. 

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