• Barbara Roy

5 Things You Should be Doing with Each Job Application

Updated: Jan 17

With the recent job climate changes, you can no longer "phone it in" when it comes to

submitting your applications. Competition for most jobs has increased exponentially, making going "above and beyond" the norm right now. Here are five best practices you should be following to put your best foot forward with each job application.

1. Get in Early

For the best chance of being considered for a role, you need to get your application in before the hundreds of others who may also apply. To know when roles are coming out that fit your qualifications and interest, you can use a variety of techniques, including setting up alerts through job sites and visiting target company career pages. LinkedIn Premium services can help you keep track of new roles coming out vs. reposts or ones that have been active for some time and may no longer be accepting applications.

2. Tweak Your Keywords

Ensuring a match between how you talk about your skills and qualifications and how the job description identifies them is, well, key. If the employer is using ATS to manage its hiring process, you already know there will be a document comparison to rank your "fitness" to the role. Similarly, hiring persons have an agenda to locate compatible candidates as quickly as possible while finding reasons to eliminate others. Don't skip this step and lessen your chances of being considered a match.

3. Provide a Cover Letter

Remember what I mentioned about "phoning it in" and "above and beyond" being the new norm? Take advantage of every opportunity to present yourself as the ideal candidate. All other things being equal, a candidate with a cover letter vs. one without it will have the advantage of appearing to have gone that extra step.

4. Study the Job Description

Without studying the job description, you'll likely be at a loss for what to include in the cover letter. The employer is looking for answers to a few key questions that you will find clues to in the job description. Regardless of whether it's human resources or a hiring manager that reviews your cover letter first, you will want to answer these questions in your resume and/or cover letter: is your experience a good match for the role? Do you have the required skills to execute the job responsibilities? What problem(s) can you solve for this employer? What makes you the best candidate above others? And, maybe, why do you want to work with them specifically?

5. Track It

Do you know what happens when you unexpectedly get that anticipated pre-screen phone call to request an interview and you can't recall the details of the job you applied for? You appear disinterested/ambivalent. Throughout each step of your application process, you want to put your best foot forward and that means being prepared. If you've sent so many resumes you can't remember the companies, or worse, who you've already talked to, that will come across to the hiring person and it won't bode well for you. It's a simple process to set up a spreadsheet to track your job applications. You can include basic information such as the company name, date applied, job title, referring person/site, contact person, term, salary, and job description URL. Leave a column for status so you can go to your spreadsheet and document the date/time when you do get that request for an interview. Having the job description link and salary range readily available will also help your prepare for the next steps of acing the interview and making informed decisions when negotiating employment terms.