I see tons of how-to articles on ways to make your resume better. But, as more and more companies realize that the job application is a better way to handle applicants than sifting through a mailbox full of resumes, those articles only address one component of the application process and may not help you get in the door. So, what do you do when your world-class resume isn’t the first thing a hiring manager sees? You make the most of your job application. Here are a few tips:
Make It Great
When a company advertises any opening these days, the applicants could easily number in the hundreds. So, when a manager is weeding through the masses of applicants to find those top few stand outs, the criteria can be brutal. If your application reads just like 40 others, then the 41 of you aren’t getting the job.
Your best approach? Try to find out what the company truly wants from this position. Job descriptions can be some of the most poorly written pieces of business communication in existence. They can be wordy, misleading, and sometimes completely off base. Do an Internet search on that specific job title and try to dissect what the position actually requires, no matter what company is advertising it. Don’t force it, and be truthful, but make sure your application includes the most essential elements the job requires. If you’re truly qualified for the position, you should already have a good enough understanding of the industry to make your application shine. But giving it a little extra thought never hurts.
Spell It Out… and Check It
Sometimes there are a ton of folks qualified for the same position. In such cases, the hiring manager’s job is not something I envy. This is where details matter and all the spelling and grammar you learned in grade school pay off. It’s just a fact that even if you could perform perfectly in a job that may not even require strong spelling and grammar skills, an innocent, even minor, spelling mistake is an easy way to help a hiring manager whittle down the pool of equally qualified candidates. So, if you want to help a hiring manager pick a good application, read what you write, and then re-read it. And use spell check.
A Job Application Is Not a Segmented Form of Your Resume
Don’t get too attached to the text you used for your career objectives on your resume. Instead of focusing on what you want in a position, point out your skills that match the job description. Since your space on most job applications is limited, you have to differentiate yourself while keeping it simple. You’re going to have to get down to basics. Those award-winning paragraphs in your resume likely won’t translate well on a job application, even if you had unlimited space.