Job application is one of the most dreaded things we have to do. It normally means that we do not have a job or we are not happy with the one we have, and it also implies many hours of research and writing, getting close to nothing in return.
I have been on both sides: looking for a job and recruiting people, and there are a few things I observed that I want to pass on to you.
In this article I will talk about:
- why jobs are important to us (besides getting a salary)
- how a job position is created and advertised (get some inside knowledge)
- how I think you should apply for jobs (not just my opinion, so keep an open mind)
- what tools you can use to make a better impression in your job application.
A job’s worth
Do you know how much time we spend at work? The number that caught my attention is “50% of your waken hours”. Looking at my day, and I am sure alone in this one, that doesn’t even cover it. I work much more than that, including weekends.
That is an incredible amount of time, and I think we all deserve to spend it doing something we enjoy, at least most of the time.
Please be reasonable here, I don’t mean you should pick your jobs based on “fun” or “easy”, but choose it wisely based on what you enjoy doing, instead of what is “available”.
The job market is very dynamic, and during our careers we change employers many times. This kind of changes are not easy, but if you have a goal in mind, a passion, an interest in your work, it will make the process a lot easier.
I also want to mention that no matter how important a salary is for you (and me, and all of us), your potential employer does not offer a job so you can get payed. The company has a need and it is up to you to fulfill that need. Employers need to see more than the motivation to get payed in a candidate.
Try to visualize the following:
Imagine you have your own company right now, and you need help with sales. You create a job ad for a account manager, based on what you need and want, to achieve the company’s goals.
CVs and motivated letters pour in, everyone talk about themselves: skills, experience, studies, all very qualified and everyone talks about how good they are at selling.
Who would you choose?
As a business owner and experienced sales person, you know not all sales are the same. It is a challenge for employers to pick a candidate based on skills and experience.
To answer the question, you will probably choose the one that sent you a little more that just a list of qualifications and reasons why they are good at what they do. Genuine applicants in the desire to work for your company, are going to be called-in for an interview.
If you have a genuine interest to work in a certain company, or you are passionate about your job, it will automatically reflect in the way you present yourself in a job application. You can also “fake it until you make it”, which is a totally legit approach if you do it right, but do you want to fake liking something you will be doing more than half of your awake time?
Bottom line is that both sides win when interest and passion is involved in the job application. You get a more positive perspective on the process of applying and probably get called to an interview, and your employer is happy he found someone with an interest in what the company is doing.
I have recently heard that the job requirements in a job ad is like the list you write to Santa Claus before Christmas. It means that the recruiter took in consideration all the specifications that are needed and wanted to fill the position in the best way possible. Since we are humans, it is not very easy to tick off all the boxes.
It is up to you to convince the company that you can do the job with the skills you have.
Careful now, this does not mean you should apply for jobs that are unrealistic for your education level and experience. All I want to say here is that the requirements are the way the company sees the ideal candidate, but it is up to you to show them why you are the ideal candidate.
This is linked to what I wrote before. Make sure you develop and interest for the company or the position, find links between the company and yourself, present yourself as a part of the company, not just list of skills and experiences.
The right thing to do
Here is the part where I tell how you should apply for a job. If you are willing to give it a try, I would love to hear from you about the results.
If you have the opportunity to do so, take a few days to imagine what your dream work-day looks like. Picture all the details: what time do you get up, how do you get there, how is the place, how is the coffee (super important!), what do you do and so on. It’s a process that takes some time, but it will give you a clearer idea what jobs you should apply for.
If you already know what you want to do, either because you just do or because you did Step 1, try to make a list of companies in your area that have desired job openings. At this point you are just making s list, not looking at specifications.
Select 3 jobs that look the least interesting. That’s right, you are going to practice, you are not going to do it on your top priorities. Apply for jobs you’re not that passionate about is a very good exercise to get into the right mindset.
Also select your 5 favorite jobs, and put them aside until you have practiced a bit.
Remember to keep an eye on the deadlines. Applications sent after the deadline are not very welcomed.
Try to find as much information as you can on the company that has the open position. I can not tell you how important this is. This will give you ideas of how you can angle your application. Find values, causes, initiatives that you can relate to your personal experience.
Remember the story time from before? Imagine you are doing an interview with a candidate and they know little to nothing about your company. Would you hire them? Probably not, because this shows how little interest they have in the company. You need someone who shares the interest because, remember, they are spending minimum 50% of their awake time there.
Write your motivated letter and the key word for this step is “customization“. It means you make something to the desired specifications of someone. You will not believe how easy it is to spot if you used a ready-made template for a motivated letter. Changing the name of the company, the industry and 2 other words does not customize anything.
If you followed the 4 steps before, you will not find it that difficult to find things in common with the company or to think of reasons why they should pick you. Really, give it a try!
Mind your language and grammar. I mean, I think this one is implied, but I have dismissed applications because of language. If language is essential for the position, anything less than perfect is no good.
And that’s it. Easy, right?
Job application tool box
This is a list of free tools you can use to make an awesome job application. What you read so far in this article should also be included in your tool box. You’re welcome!
Google Docs Templates offer at least 5 different templates you can use to create a structured, modern looking CV.
If you write “free CV templates” in your search engine, you will get many more choices. I recommend you have a color scheme for yourself. Choose 3 colors that you want to represent you and use them across all your written communication, it makes a statement about who you are. Choose the colors carefully!
If you want to take your CV and motivated letter to another branded level, you can use Canva to create fun visuals like logos, templates and others.
If you want to read some inspiring motivational letter, check out Motivationalletter.com, they are worth your while. Pay attention to the stories they tell and tell your story next time you write one.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this article. Write to me with your comments, questions or if you want me to write about a specific topic.