Completing a job application effectively is a crucial step toward securing an interview and landing your dream job.
Mastering a job application requires attention to detail, strategic choices, and a clear understanding of what employers are looking for.
“Applying for a job is an important step in the hiring process. Your application shows your interest in the job and informs the employer of your relevant skills and experience,” says the job site Indeed. “Knowing how to complete a job application well can have a significant impact on your chances of receiving an invitation to interview.”
Step-by-Step Guide to Completing a Job Application
If this is your first time job hunting or if you have done it many times before, follow these steps to navigate the job application process with confidence:
- Read and Understand the Application: Carefully review the entire application before starting to ensure you understand the requirements and sections.
- Gather Necessary Information: Collect all relevant personal, educational, and professional details, including employment history, contact information, references, and certifications.
- Customize Your Resume: Tailor your resume to align with the job requirements, highlighting relevant skills, experiences, and accomplishments.
- Complete Personal Information: Fill in your name, address, phone number, and email accurately. Use a professional email address.
- Provide Employment History: List your previous job positions, including company names, dates of employment, job titles, and responsibilities. Focus on achievements and measurable results.
- Include Education and Training: Enter your educational background, including degrees earned, institutions attended, and relevant coursework or certifications.
- Showcase Skills and Qualifications: Highlight your skills and qualifications that are directly applicable to the job requirements. Use specific examples to demonstrate your capabilities.
- Write a Compelling Cover Letter: If a cover letter is required, craft a tailored letter that showcases your interest, relevant experiences, and why you're a strong fit for the role.
- Proofread and Review: Thoroughly proofread the application for any errors or omissions. Pay attention to grammar, spelling, and formatting.
- Submit the Application: Follow the application submission instructions, whether it's through an online portal, email, or in-person submission. Ensure all required documents are attached.
"Do's and Don'ts" for Filling out a Job Application
To maximize your chances of success, keep the following "Do's and Don'ts" in mind when completing a job application:
- Do carefully read and follow the instructions provided in the job application.
- Do tailor your application and resume to match the specific job requirements.
- Do use professional and concise language when describing your qualifications.
- Do provide accurate and up-to-date contact information.
- Do highlight your relevant skills and experiences.
- Do proofread your application thoroughly before submission.
- Do research on the company beforehand to align your application with its values and culture.
- Do follow up on your application with a polite and professional email or phone call.
- Do maintain a positive and confident tone throughout your application.
- Do prepare and practice for potential interviews.
- Don't leave any required fields blank unless they don't apply to you.
- Don't include irrelevant personal information, such as your marital status or social media handles.
- Don't provide false information or exaggerate your qualifications.
- Don't use unprofessional language or abbreviations in your application.
- Don't submit a generic application without customizing it for the specific job.
- Don't forget to include contact information for your references if requested.
- Don't rush through the application; take your time to ensure accuracy and quality.
- Don't solely rely on spell-check; manually proofread for errors and typos.
- Don't underestimate the importance of a well-crafted cover letter when it's required.
- Don't neglect to research the company and tailor your application to their values and mission.
Tips from Career Experts on Completing Job Applications
Career experts say some strategies can set your application apart from the field when submitting it for a job.
Employ these valuable tips from job experts to enhance your job application:
- Use Action Verbs: Begin bullet points with strong action verbs to showcase your accomplishments and responsibilities effectively.
- Include Keywords in Resume: Review the description and find words that look like they relate to traits, skills, or experiences that the company is looking for. Note: some companies may use AI to screen resumes so keywords can help.
- Quantify Achievements: Wherever possible, include numbers, percentages, or other measurable data to highlight the impact you made in previous roles.
- Address Gaps in Employment: If you have employment gaps, briefly explain them concisely and positively.
- Prioritize Relevance: Focus on relevant experiences and skills that directly align with the job requirements to capture the employer's attention.
- Network and Seek Referrals: Leverage your professional network to get referrals or recommendations that can strengthen your application.
- Practice Time Management: Start the application process early to avoid rushing and to have ample time for proofreading and revisions.
- Seek Feedback: Ask a trusted mentor, colleague, or professional for feedback on your application to gain valuable insights and make improvements.
- Track Applications When Applying for Multiple Jobs: It can get confusing when you are applying for multiple jobs at the same time so keep a spreadsheet that will help you track each application.
- Clean Up Your Social Media Profile: In a digital-first world, your potential employer may be checking your social media profiles on different sites. Make sure all posts portray you in a professional light.
The Impact of the Digital World on Job Applications
The days of walking into a business and requesting a paper application and trusty No. 2 pencil are pretty much gone.
The digital world has transformed the way job applications are completed. Consider the following changes:
Online Applications: Most applications are now submitted online through company websites or job portals, requiring digital document uploads.
Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS): Many companies use ATS software to filter and screen applications based on specific keywords, skills, and qualifications.
Virtual Interviews: Job interviews are increasingly conducted through video conferencing platforms, requiring familiarity with technology and virtual etiquette.
Online Professional Profiles: Employers often review candidates' online presence, including LinkedIn profiles, to gather additional information.
Digital Portfolios: Some applicants create digital portfolios to showcase their work samples, projects, and achievements.
Completing a job application is a critical step toward securing an interview and landing your desired job. With thorough preparation, attention to detail, and a strategic approach, you'll be well on your way to making a compelling impression on potential employers.