By Nolan P. Smith
Need a job? For many, the answer is a resounding “yes”! Job searching can be a pain for most, and when you don’t hear back from an employer, it can weigh on your self-esteem. Never fear, you are not alone. As a former career developer for a local school, I know how tough it can be and the challenges faced in today’s job market. So get ready, because I’m going to give you some tips that can improve your chances of getting that phone call you have been waiting for. For today, we will start with the basics: the application.
So, the employment application, pretty simple, right? Not true. It is a test: a test that you know how to read thoroughly, that you know how to follow directions, and that you can communicate legibly using the written word. The time you devote to the application and the manner you fill it out in will dictate if you move forward in the screening process. So what can you do to make your application the best you can?
Fill it out: all of it. I know, that should go without saying. You would be surprised how many people cannot or will not do this. As a former Assistant Manager for a few retail stores, I can tell you that sometimes the application is all you need to see to file the applicant back into obscurity. Carefully review your application, filling out all applicable sections carefully and more importantly, legibly. If there are parts that do not apply to you, put “N/A” or “Not Applicable,” do not leave it blank: this shows you did not care enough to finish the application entirely.
Brag a little. Bragging isn’t always a good thing, but on an application, you need to show off a little. There is usually a section that says “Recognitions/Awards,” and that is where you get to brag. Awards in school? Honor roll? Certificates, degrees, diplomas? List those right here. Employers like to see an individual who is dedicated and has recognition to show it. If you are a student who is entering the workforce, and you have been in clubs during your time at school, then make it known. Having put that I was a member of my school’s ASB, Yearbook and Drama clubs is what landed me my first job, according to the Store Manager that hired me.
Stand out. It might surprise you, but you are not the only person going for this job. Many, many people want this job as much, if not more than you do. So, you need to stand out. Take the time to articulate yourself appropriately, answer questions intelligently, and have the dates, addresses and phone numbers for past employers and references on the application. If allowed, attach a resume and a cover letter to your application.
Check back. Don’t be a pest, but check back on the status of your application. A friendly call during the week, not during the busy hours of the company, will go a long way. Even a written follow up after an interview, thanking the employer for their time and highlighting your skills at the same time can never hurt. Maybe also submit an updated application to keep your name fresh in their minds. During my first job interview, the interviewer pulled out over 15 applications, and they were all mine. Overboard? Yes, and when you're just entering the workforce, it is easy to go overboard. Did it work? Thankfully, it did.
Next time, we will tackle the all-important resume. The do’s and don’ts, the inner workings and the purpose of what a resume should be.
(Originally published at High Desert Daily)