Applications: Completion and Follow-Up
You’ve made it to Lesson 6! Most jobs require a job application. When you’re ready to fill out applications and follow them through the process, the tips in this lesson will help you succeed.
A note before continuing: Occasionally, you’ll find an employer who only requires a resume and cover letter, or one who does the hiring and then has employees fill out forms similar to an application. If you don’t find an application on a job board or website, check the requirements carefully and respond accordingly.
Completing a Quality Application
Once you have found an application through a job board or on an organization website, filling out the form may seem simple until you get into the nitty-gritty of doing it right. This takes preparation and thought. If you follow the suggestions in Lesson 2, you should be ready with the names, addresses, dates, places, job descriptions, and other information needed for almost any application—have it with you at all times on a file or on paper. You may also need personal identification documents, including your driver’s license or state ID card, your social security number, and paperwork on your legal work status. Whether you’re filling out a form online or on paper, the same principles apply: Answer every question thoughtfully, positively, and accurately.
Your finished application should not contain spelling or typing errors. Information listed about your previous jobs, references, and personal data must be accurate. Type or write the information carefully, and double-check your work before submitting the form.
Put your best face forward on job applications, but don’t fabricate any information. If you lie on an application, you can lose the opportunity to land or keep the job. If the form contains questions about tasks you’ve done or results you’ve had related to the type of job opening, use examples that show your positive qualities. If you don’t have any work experience or recent jobs to discuss, use examples from personal, club, association, or volunteer situations as they apply.
One question that always throws people: What salary or hourly rate do you expect? According to career development expert Dr. Randall S. Hansen, you should always state that you are open or negotiable on your pay rate because a particular wage gives an impression that may disqualify you from consideration. If the form forces you to type in a number, try use a range or a number that is about midrange for what you might expect. You can negotiate specifics later.
Another note on salary: Applications sometime request a salary history from previous employers. This information does not appear on your resume. Know your beginning and ending wages for each job you list.
Following Up on Application Status
Job application follow-up can be a tricky business. You want to know the status of your application, but you don’t want to upset the hiring manager or human resources contact by being too persistent. If you are applying for a job in person, ask about the time frame for hiring and when you should follow up. For online positions, some employers update the status of applications in the tracking system. Look it up on the site before calling or sending an email. If there’s no update, follow up if it’s been at least two weeks. This contact might jog the manager’s memory to review the application.
Keeping Your Agency or Recruiter Focused on You
Are you using an agency or a recruiter? They deal with many jobs and many people. For a better outcome, call and talk to your contact about every two weeks. Reiterate your job search goal, and ask how you can improve your chances of getting an interview. You are causing the contact to think about you, increasing the chance of being remembered.
As your job search continues, it can take a toll on you. Waiting and hoping can be difficult if you don’t get interviews quickly, yet this is perfectly normal. In the next two lessons, we’ll look at what you can do to make this time period more productive and moving in the right direction.
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