Applying for a Job - Top Ten Tips


I wouldn't always recommend applying for a job, since for many people there are better ways to make a living, but there are times when you have to do what is necessary. With that in mind and recalling my experiences with the many jobs I have had over the years, here are ten tips to make the success of your application more likely.

1. Write your cover letter for the specific company.

It is so easy to rewrite a cover letter with word processing programs, and so much easier to do research thanks to the internet, that you should make a new cover letter for each company you apply at. Get online, go to their website and click that "about us" link. Find something that you like about the company or its history and mention that in your letter. Let them know that you know about them--what they do and what makes them different from the competition.

2. Modify your resume as necessary.

Again, it is easy to have a basic resume in your computer files, and then modify it to suit each place you send it to. Emphasize the experience and skills that are most relevant to that employer. Address the specific company or organization in the cover letter and tailor your resume as well, and you will stand out among applicants.

3. Tell potential employers what you can do for them.

Don't bother with why you want the job, unless it ties in nicely with why they should want you. You are selling yourself, not as a good or interesting person, but as an asset to the employer. Make it clear why they will benefit from hiring you. Do this in the resume and in your interview as well.

4. Just the facts...

Don't make many vague or unsubstantiated claims about yourself or your history, like "I work well with others," or "I have helped boost profits for previous employers." Cite specific examples and use facts and numbers. If you reduced expenses for a past employer, explain exactly how you did it and how much the savings amounted to. Again, you can do this in a resume or in a face-to-face interview.

5. Ask questions.

Most people like to tell you about their business, so let them. Listen carefully to gain clues as to what they are looking for in an employee, so you can continue to tailor your sales pitch.

6. Don't talk too much about yourself.

Answer questions as thoroughly as necessary, but don't volunteer more than an interviewer wants or needs. Remember that the interview is not about your life, but about why you can help the employer in his or her goals. And your work history is there in the resume, so don't bring it up except as it is relevant to the question at hand.

7. Use visual aids if you have them.

If you have photos, charts or printed information which help demonstrate what you have done for past employers--and these materials are relevant to what you can do for this employer--use them.

8. Dress appropriately.

When applying for a job, prior to the interview, see what kind of clothing is worn by supervisors and dress like them. Looking too formal can turn off a builder, for example, just as dressing in jeans will hurt your chances of being hired for an office job.

9. Ask for a decision.

When you are done interviewing, ask politely when a decision will be made and get a phone number you can call to check back with them when the time comes.

10. Offer an alternative.

If after applying for a job you are turned down, but you think the interview went well, consider offering to work on a trial basis. Depending on the type of work this could mean doing some contract work or just being hired for a 30-day "test." You have nothing to lose once you get that "no" anyhow, and some employers will be impressed with your persistence and self-confidence.

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