Job-Seeker Series – The Application Process

Welcome to my crazy life! Come on in…but beware, you may get sidetracked. Work/travel/fun/family have been crazy the last 2 months. Via plane/train/automobile ( actual train travel) we’ve covered over 7200 miles in the past two months. Whoa.

I’ve been working out when I can fit it in…or rather when I choose to fit it in…but I’m nowhere near where I’d like to be. More on that later. Instead, I’ve been spending my time working, traveling, having big fun, and becoming a tad obsessed with re-runs (new to me!) of Scandal, Grimm, and Revenge.

My time at work has led me to post the following, which while completely outside of Cue Your Life’s regular realm, is completely useful and I hope will help you, or someone you know! It’s also a big part of my life, so I hope you enjoy!

I’ve been working in the staffing industry for about 7 months now, (and in office management for about 10 years) and have learned an incredible amount about human resource management in regards to the hiring process. As a break from The Marathon Project, (because I know you know I’ve not posted in a while) I thought I’d do a little job-seeker mini-series. Over the next few weeks, I’ll cover the following:

  • The Application Process
  • Interview Tips and Tricks
  • Follow-Up Etiquette
  • Helpful Links for Job Seekers
  • Now What?!

Today is all about The Application Process!

I have seen a handful of really amazing candidates come through that have won me over, regardless of qualifications,  as a result of simply following instructions with a positive attitude. However, for every handful of amazing candidates, there are 10 handfuls that may be very well suited for a position…but do not make it past the screening process simply because they choose not to following instructions, have a bad attitude, or are  lazy with their application/resume. Below you will learn basic tips for being one of the amazing few!

So, you’ve picked a job posting that you’re interested in pursuing…now what?

1.   First and foremost, please pay attention to the job posting itself.

  • If you are not qualified in any of the “required” areas…stop now. If you feel some type of excellence in another area may be applicable, and could replace the requirement…please make a note of that in your cover letter. If not, seriously…stop now.
  • Each organization is looking for their very own purple squirrel, that perfect fit to help grow their business in excellence. If you are not that businesses’ purple squirrel, (say, you’re an orange dolphin right now) please don’t waste their time. You’ll be someone’s purple squirrel when it’s the right fit.

2.   Follow the application instructions, and fill them out completely.

  • Everyone knows it’s a bore to fill out the same information over and over again…but often times there a legal reason for doing so, and you will not be considered unless you take the extra few minutes to make sure everything is there.
  • If you are applying in person, take with you names/addresses/numbers for all prior employers and a list of professional references.
  • Please note that I have called a handful of “professional” references that turn out to be the candidate’s mother/husband/sister/BFF/child. A professional reference is someone you’ve worked with/under/for/alongside. This can be in a professional or volunteer setting, but must be someone who can speak for you in regards to your work ethic, reliability, promptness, qualifications and/or education.
  • Expect previous employers to be called for references.
  • Even if there are not legal reasons for completely filling out a job application, the organization has the application for a reason, and it is disrespectful as a prospective employee to not follow the instructions, or give all of the requested information. It makes a difference!
  • Do not write “any,” “all,” or “negotiable” in fields on a job application. Businesses are not looking to fill a warm body within their organization, who may be qualified, but who is only interested in a paycheck or finding work.

Businesses are looking for a great fit which includes out-of-the-box areas such as: available start date, scheduling availability, skill set, benefits required, salary required, etc. Good hiring managers know that qualifications/education are tools in finding a good employee…but there is an entire profile that must be built in order to find a great fit!!

  1. Submit your resume/cover letter with the application if possible, not in place of it.
  • Proof read your resume and cover letter. Ok, now have someone else proof them. Ok…now proof them again. Do not (seriously people) submit a resume/cover letter with typos. Don’t do it. This includes your personal information…if you have moved or changed phone numbers, make sure to update your resume!
  • Include 3 professional references on your resume. Do not write, “available upon request.” A potential employer should not have to call to request something that will be required for the position. Give the hiring manager what they will need upfront.
  • Submit these documents as a hard copy or as a document attachment in an email…do not copy and paste resume/cover letter information into the body of an email. It will be lost, and even if it gets printed/saved (which it won’t)…it looks terrible once copy/pasted into another document. If you don’t know how to attach a document to an email…someone you know does. Ask them.
  • Speaking of cover letters…it is well worth the 3 minute phone call to the business to find out who their hiring manager is, and the correct spelling of their name. Do not put “To Whom it May Concern” on a cover letter unless you wish for it to concern no one!
  1. If you are an adult, and looking for a job, please have a professional email address. In the last 6 months, I’ve seen the following (with additional that I cannot publish due to profanity reasons) and have responded by letting the candidate know that I, under no circumstance, would allow an email to leave my outbox with their email address as the recipient…rendering them ineligible for employment as our process is done electronically.  Seriously, change your email address!
    • (Really? I’m guessing it’s been awhile.)
    • (See above.)
    • (Men, no one needs to know about your weight issues. Do some push ups. Women…shame on you.)
    • (What?! I don’t even know.)
    • (Mommy doesn’t like you much either. Move on.)
    • (I’ve got much more relevent names to call you, but more than likely we will not be speaking.)

Moving on…

  1. A follow-up email (with a read receipt) or phone call (write down who you spoke to) is acceptable, after an application/resume/cover letter has been submitted. Please give the business at least 5 business days before following-up.
    • Simply state that your information was provided on xx/xx/xxxx, for which position, and that you are following-up to ensure all their questions have been answered. Ask politely if they require any further information at this time. Say Thank You.
    • As a job seeker, or an adult for that matter, please make sure that your outgoing professional email messages contain an email signature that states your full name, email address, and phone number. If a hiring manager has to conduct research to figure out who you are, or how to get a hold of you…it will most certainly be the last thing they do with you.

Remember that the simple act of following instructions is huge when looking for a job. Polite follow-up, and a great attitude, are equally important! Good luck!

 Got an interview?! Great! Interview Tips and Tricks are up next time!

~ written for my Liz Lemon, without whom I would be a crazy person. Ok, a crazier person. Thank you for your guidance, leadership, and integrity.

Questions? Comments? Funny Job-Seeker Story? Let me know!

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