11 Steps You Should Take Before Applying for a Job
11 Steps You Should Take Before Applying for a Job
You spot a posting for a job you’re interested in. It fits perfectly with your background, skills, and experience. You feel a rush of excitement and quickly submit your resume and application.
Then, you wait. And wait. And wait. Then, you spend the next few weeks checking your email and voicemail inboxes until you realize you’re not getting an interview.
You think to yourself, “…but I was so perfect for that job!” And maybe you were. But did you follow all the necessary steps before submitting your application?
11 Steps to Take Before Applying for a Job
1. Proofread Everything a Few Times
Before submitting your resume, cover letter, or any other application materials, read it over a few times, then a few more times. Beyond looking for common typos and spelling errors, ask yourself, does everything make sense? Are there too many buzzwords and not enough keywords?
Then, ask someone you trust to read it over. Ask them how it reads and if there are any improvements you could make.
2. Tailor Your Resume and Cover Letter
Your resume might be perfect—but not necessarily perfect for this job.
A resume with nice formatting and no typos will only get you so far. If you’re missing relevant experience or lack some crucial keywords from the job posting, your application might not make it through the company’s applicant tracking system.
Tweak your resume and cover letter for every job you apply to! Incorporate the keywords from the job listing and highlight the skills and experiences that are relevant to this job at this company.
3. Reread the Job Posting
After you’ve tailored your application materials, reread the job description, then compare that to your application materials. Ask yourself if you provided the most relevant information, or did you leave something crucial out?
Rereading the job description before submitting that application can help fine-tune the final package with essential details that could get you the interview.
4. Proofread Your LinkedIn Profile
“If I had a dollar for every spelling error I saw on a LinkedIn profile, I would be a rich woman,” says Christy Hopkins of 4 Point Consulting, an HR consulting and recruiting firm. “Everyone knows to spell-check their resume, but for gosh sakes, do so on your LinkedIn profile. Employers will look it up.”
5. Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is a supplement to your resume and is something hiring managers will read over after your resume to better figure out if you’re a fit for the role.
And while your resume is generally one to two pages, your LinkedIn profile can be much longer. So, update your experience, professional qualifications, certifications, awards, volunteer experience, and work samples—anything that’s relevant to your professional success and can help you stand out as a candidate.
6. Clean Up Your Social Media Profiles
Ideally, you have nothing to worry about on social media pages. But to be sure, audit your profiles and make sure you present yourself in the best way possible. Anything negative or unprofessional? Use your best judgment, or err on the side of caution and remove those posts or images.
7. Copy the Job Posting
If the job posting is taken down, will you really remember everything about the opportunity? Maybe, but why take chances? Print out or grab a screenshot of the job description just in case it disappears. This way, when you land the interview, you’ll have the job description to refer to when you’re practicing your answers to common interview questions and figuring out what questions to ask the interviewer.
8. Check Your Network
Before applying for a job, research the company to see if you have any connections there or if any of your connections are connected to current or former employees.
This can help you get direct contact information for the hiring manager or more information about the position. If you have a friend or professional colleague at the company, even better—and check to see if the company has a referral program. Employers often welcome referrals and sometimes prioritize them when calling in candidates for interviews.
9. Customize Your Email and Subject Line
If you have a direct contact at the company or are applying via email, don’t assume the person on the other end knows why you are emailing them. Make sure your email subject line includes the title of the job posting or a reference number that clearly shows you are applying for the job,
A subject line like this would be appropriate: “Job application – Job #12345: Sales Manager at XYZ Company.” Without it, the hiring manager has no idea what role you’re applying for or even why you’re reaching out.
10. Follow the Instructions
Read the application instructions very carefully. If the application asks for a resume in PDF format, don’t send it as a .doc file. If it asks for a cover letter, don’t just send a resume. Read every detail and follow instructions closely because not following them will almost guarantee you won’t get the interview.
11. Imagine Yourself in the Role
Before you go through all the trouble of applying for a job, make sure it’s something you really, truly want.
- Is this a company I admire or would be proud to be part of?
- Do I know enough about the company’s culture, and am I confident I’ll be happy there?
- Is the job a stepping-stone or a long-term commitment?
- Are there any red flags I should worry about?
- Think through every scenario. The job may be attractive, but if you’re looking for a remote role, for instance, and it doesn’t mention anything about the option to work at home, would you be okay with that? Be realistic and honest with yourself.
If you decide it may not be the right fit, don’t waste your time or theirs. Move on and put your energy elsewhere.
Give It Time
Applying for a job takes time and effort. Rushing through the process just to be one of the first applicants won’t help if you accidentally apply for the “manger” position. Following the above tips will help you stay on top of your application materials and stand out from the rest of the candidates.
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