Resources: ArticleBest Practices for Applying to a Job

We asked our team of recruiters eight important questions to consider during the job application process. We’ve compiled their answers and curated a useful checklist to better prepare yourself, ensuring a smoother and more thoughtful application process.

  1. How do you begin the job hunt?

    Start with a list of priorities before anything else… outline the things that are most important to you in finding your next home.  Is it a better culture you’re looking for?  If yes, what about the next firm’s culture is going to be meaningful to you?  Is it finding a “better” boss? If yes, what characteristics are lacking in your current boss and what is important to find in the next person? Is it size of firm?  Title? Compensation?  There is a lot to consider, but it’s important to have a list of priorities to reflect on, when you are not only looking to apply, but also as you enter and work through an interview process. This will help you keep a clear head and not get overly excited or negative about any one item, depending on where it falls on your list of priorities.

  2. How should you create/update a resume?

    Create a resume that has every single thing that you do listed on it with your most recent work experience and your experience with the longest tenure occupying the bulk of the space on your resume.  Save this as your master resume.  Then, trim this resume down and tailor it to each position that you’re targeting.  Proofread, spell check, triple check your dates of employment, and make sure your resume format is consistent all the way through. (Refer to our “Biggest Resume Mistakes with the Simplest Fixes”)

  3. How would you go about searching for the right job?

    Start by searching for the industry and job functions that suit your interests and experience. Note that you don’t need to hit every single bullet point on the job description (i.e. if it calls for five years of experience and you have four), but you should apply to roles that you touch on the baseline qualifications and genuinely interest you. Utilize LinkedIn keywords and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone to call your alumni network, friends, and recruiters. 

  4.  Why is it important to change/update your resume for individual jobs?

    It is important to closely review your resume for every role you’re applying to in order to ensure your current responsibilities and skillsets align as best possible with the requirements of the role. This reminds you to outline any skills you possess that would be relevant for that specific position. Hiring managers will first look at your current position and look for key skills and qualifications that align with the requirements of the role…so if you have it, flaunt it!  Take the 15-30 minutes and make any necessary changes to your resume that will allow your experience to better speak to the job you are applying for AND (perhaps more importantly) stand out against the competition.  On average, recruiters and hiring managers take 30 seconds to evaluate a resume against a job posting, so keyword overlap is extremely important. People want to see relevant skills quickly or they will likely pass on your application and seek candidates who have emphasized the points and qualifications.  Don’t forget that what may be obvious to you, may not be obvious to a reader. 

  5. Filling out a lengthy application (a checklist)
    1. Take your time—if you are applying for a job, the expectation and hope is that you will be in that position for several years to come; are you willing to spend one or two hours to better the next few years of your life?
    2. Be thorough!  Do not write “see resume” as that reads “I’m too lazy to answer.” Answer honestly and always leave the “desired compensation” area as negotiable!
    3. Always copy and paste your work into a WordDoc as you work through multiple applications ensuring your spelling and punctuation are correct.
    4. Double check your dates of employment.
    5. Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!

  6. How to best conduct yourself while currently employed, as you begin your job search.

    Being deliberate about what opportunities you apply to is helpful as it allows you to streamline your process and avoid wasted time, so that you’re being fair to yourself and your employer. Take some time every day after work or even during your lunch break to look online for positions and bookmark them so you can apply when you have the available time to put in the appropriate effort. Another idea?  Make it your mission to email or call someone in your network to let them know that you are job searching each day or week. You need to spend time on your job search every day if you are active, so that you don’t let a potentially great opportunity slip through the cracks. 

  7. Sending follow up messages to applications (if applicable).

    If you have a contact directly at the firm or there is someone listed on the LinkedIn posting: Send your resume in and follow up with an email expressing your interest and why you would be a good fit. Keep these emails short and sweet. You’re a stranger to these folks – people don’t like reading long emails from strangers. (Also, side note…it never ceases to amaze us on how many people blindly apply for a job and never follow up when the hiring managers contact info is one click away!)

    If you’re working with a recruiter: Any recruiter worth his/her weight should be able to get you an update no later than one week from resume submission. If your recruiter just doesn’t reply to you at all then we suggest you follow up one more time a few days later… if they continue to not respond, move on from that recruiting firm.

  8.  As a recap…

    The most important thing to highlight during this process are your relevant skills and responsibilities for the particular job you are applying to as a candidate.  This process doesn’t work as seamlessly if you take the approach of “more is better”—it should be targeted. You can stretch a bit, but review your resume and ask, “am I really qualified for this opening?”  If yes, “what can I do to better showcase my skills on my resume or as part of the application?”  An extra 15-30 minutes of updating your resume can lead you to an invitation for your first interview…and an interview is the goal of submitting your resume!  So, take your time and be thoughtful in the process. The payout will hopefully be your dream job!