The job search process can be an exciting, yet daunting task for job seekers. Those re-entering the job search market – and those entering for the first time – are finding that applying for a job is not as quick and simple as it used to be. A process that used to involve merely submitting a resume and cover letter is now much more detailed, and job applicants are finding the process to be more time consuming than ever.
While applying for a job still involves the submission of a resume and cover letter, many companies are also having applicants create user names and profiles and fill out questionnaires before they are able to submit their applications. This can add tens of minutes – if not more – to the job search process, and can’t be avoided if an online submission is required. The good news is we’ve collated some feedback from recent job applicants and have put together some tips below that might help you speed up the process:
Have your cover letter ready to go
Before you start applying, have a basic cover letter written that can be tweaked and amended according to the job you’re applying for.
Select the option to pre-fill answers, if available
Some programs are designed where you can upload your resume, and it will pre-populate answers to an online questionnaire based on the information in your combination resume. This way, you don’t have to write your name, contact info, work history/dates, etc., over and over again. Select this option if it’s available – it will definitely save you time! Make sure, however, that you double-check it to make sure the information has been populated correctly.
Save your written answers to questionnaires in a separate document
Many job applications will include supplemental, but generic, questions to be answered. Questions such as “explain any employment gaps over the past 10 years” or “what are your salary requirements?” If you find yourself answering questions like this, copy/paste your answers and save them in a separate document on your computer – chances are that you will see the same questions again on another application. This way, you will have your answers all ready to go!
The most important tip – be patient!
While it may seem like you are answering the same questions over and over again, remember that you application and answers will be evaluated by a hiring manager who knows nothing about you. Sell yourself to them – take time and care to answer all questions accurately and professionally. Don’t get frustrated and rush your application.
Example Interview Questions: Briefly Describe Your Ideal Job?
This is a “curve ball” question. My ideal job would be earning a million dollars a week and only working about 3-4 hours a day. Perhaps my ideal job is playing first base for the New York Yankees. Either way, neither of these answers is right. The right answer to this question is to keep it in line with the characteristics of the job and company you are interviewing with. Concentrate on your strengths and what you best bring to the job. A sample answer would be along the lines of, “My ideal job is where I can utilize my key strengths including X, Y, and Z and as a valued member of the team make a positive and significant contribution.”
Some job advertisements ask you to include your desired salary, and if they ask for this, it usually means that you can’t avoid doing so. Listing salary requirements is always tricky because it’s hard to “guess” what the employer will think about your preference. Asking for too much can rule out your chances right away because you might appear unrealistic, but asking for too little can signal a red flag and tell the hiring manager that you don’t value your skills and experience. So the question is – what do you say?
My advice is to always include a range because you give yourself a little bit of breathing room. A range not only eliminates you from this potential scrutiny, but it could also tell the hiring manager that you need a little more information before you give them a definite answer. In other words, you leave yourself some option, and you also put yourself in a good position to negotiate. Chances are that full details of the job haven’t already been provided, so if you make it to the interview and hear more about the job’s requirements, you can then argue why you are qualified to receive the higher end of your salary range.
So how do you determine this range? Try to search for similar positions and what they offer in terms of salary. Look up job search websites and try to ballpark a range that most of the positions fit into, and then use this range when you’re writing your cover letter. The range you include is entirely dependent on what you find, but I would probably suggest not making it any larger than $10,000 – it may be too general otherwise.
All in all, it’s always best to keep your options open.
Are you sick of not landing job interviews? Are you applying for jobs you feel you are more than qualified for, but not having any success? More than likely, the problem has more to do with the way your resume is written than not having the right skill sets for the job.
Resume writing is an art form and in order to be successful your resume needs to pass 4 major rules:
How can I make my resume stand out from the crowd?
Using numbers and quantitative evidence to highlight your achievements is key to standing out from the competition and presenting value added evidence about the type of behavior a hiring manager can expect from you. If your position involves business development, for example, rather than including a generic description such as “Excellent communicator and relationship manager”, you can spice up this sentence and turn it into an “Accomplishment Statement” that will aid your resume in being noticed. (Don’t forget to use strategic keywords!)
Example 1: Successful business development and account management helped to exceed annual sales target of $X by 15% for the full financial year.
Example 2: Managed a team of 6 Sales Representatives in conducting product launches to increase new product penetration into the market leading to an overall increase of $5 million over a 12 month period
Example 3: Part of the Project Management Team involved in the rollout of a 200 networks leading to a 10% increase in revenue and a further 20% in cost savings.
Proof and Evidence
Using numbers and evidence to back up your statements will aid your resume application and make your resume shine against other candidates. In the current economy where jobs are tough to get, you need to prove to the hiring manager that you are the best candidate for the job and the best way to do this is to use numbers to back up your achievement statements.
Ensure your resume is noticed by hiring managers by using our selection of power action words. Standard cliché words will have a detrimental effect on your resume causing the reader to lose interest. Let me be honest – How many times can hiring managers read that a candidate is hard working!
Great Power Action Verbs and Resume Words
Accelerate, Achieve, Advise, Aided, Arrange, Assemble, Balanced, Budgeted, Clarified, Collect, Command, Conceive, Conduct, Coordinate, Demonstrated, Design, Diagnosed, Directed, Dissect, Distribute, Delegate, Detect, Discover, Drafted, Engage, Evaluate, Examine, Expand, Expressed, Forecasted, Generated, Illustrated, Implement, Interpreted, Influence Install Instruct, Monitor, Motivate, Navigated, Participate, Perceive, Perform, Persuade, Promote, Propose, Reconciled, Reinforce, Revamp, Revised, Solve, Specified, Streamline, Strengthened, Structure, Supervised, Volunteered.
Many job seekers spend time on perfecting their resumes, but when it comes time for the cover letter, quickly write a couple paragraphs and send it out to every employer. If you’re serious about getting a job, a hiring manager won’t consider you without a polished, professional cover letter as well.
Here are a few common mistakes to avoid:
Long, wordy cover letters.
Employers and hiring managers are already reading dozens of resumes and cover letters, so they usually don’t want a fancy, complicated letter that’s difficult to follow. It’s best to state what position you’re applying for, what key skills and experiences you have that make you qualified for it, and what you have to offer that position. It’s best to get to the point and not summarize all of your experiences.
Summarizing or repeating what’s on your resume.
Your cover letter should not be repeating everything on your resume, but rather putting your resume in context and highlighting the key achievements and skills you have that will make you the best candidate for the position. Your cover letter should entice employers to want to read the whole of your resume.
Sending generic cover letters to multiple employers.
Your cover letter is the place you specifically state which position you are applying for and what makes you a good candidate for the position. Hiring managers can tell when you’re using a generic letter for dozens of positions and this doesn’t convince them that you’re serious about the job or really want it. You should personalize every cover letter you send out and personally address the letter to either the hiring manager or HR administrator interviewing you, or try to find out the name of the manager or supervisor you would work under should you get hired.
Failing to specify the position you’re applying for.
Even if you address the company you’re applying to but not the particular position, you could be limiting yourself. Unless this is a general inquiry for consideration, you should talk about the experience you have relating to the specific job functions of the position. The employer is laying out for you what they’re looking for in the job advertisement so make it easy and clear for them to see how you’re a good match.
Typos or wrong information.
Like your resume, your cover letter suggests to employers the quality of work you will produce if hired. If your cover letter is full of typos, grammatical errors or old contact details, this can show laziness or lack of professionalism.
Talking about your personal life or salary expectations.
Your cover letter should be focused on how your professional experience can serve as an asset to the company. Don’t add personal information that isn’t related to the job you’re applying for. You should keep it professional and never bring up salary expectations in the cover letter.
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