How to Ace Your Job Application. Now with More Kittens.
Anything to get you to read this, really.
I’ve previously shared some tips and then some more tips for polishing a job application. For a recruiter’s perspective on what a successful application looks like, I asked Jobbatical’s head of talent and resident HR hotshot Alina to drop some truth bombs.
So you’re thinking about sending out a job application. That’s fantastic! Did you read the entire job description?
Did you really?
Are you sure?
Just read the whole damn thing
“It’s so extremely obvious when people don’t read the job description,” says Alina. The company specifically asked for a video cover letter and you didn’t send one? Red flag. The ad asked applicants to answer a number of questions and you didn’t? Your cover letter might as well just say “TL;DR” at this point.
Make sure you understand what the job is about and whether or not you have a realistic chance of getting it. Taking it to an extreme, some applicants don’t even seem to read the job titles, applying left and right to whatever catches their eye. In the wise and immortal words of Alina:
“WHY, WHY, WHY?”
It makes a certain amount of sense to apply for a job you’re not absolutely, 100% qualified to do—to demonstrate initiative, spirit, and your eagerness to learn. But if you happen to be a marketing person with zero coding ability, you really have no business applying for a full-stack developer role that calls for seven years of experience. All you’re doing at this point is wasting everyone’s time. There’s a word for that. Starts with s and ends with pam.
Remember, it’s your own time you’re wasting, too. Time you could use instead to really…
Get your head in the game
Making yourself stand out as a hireable person takes effort, and people who read your applications for a living will know if you’re not putting it in. According to Alina, the most common signs of lazy job-hunting are a lack of research, lots of sloppy copying and pasting from one application to another, and glaring mistakes in grammar and spelling.
Alina concedes that bad grammar isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker, seeing as English isn’t everyone’s first language. A couple of misspelled words probably aren’t going to doom you either (we’re all only human, after all). But depending on the role you’re applying for (marketers and writers in particular can’t afford to be lazy with the spell check), an application crawling with spelling errors could easily earn you an eye-roll-and-reject from the person reading it.
It’s also important that you do your research about your potential employer (remember this post in our Application Secrets series?) At the very least—and this really is the bare, bare minimum—make sure you address your cover letter to the right company! By showing little enthusiasm or interest in the company, you’re shooting yourself in the foot early in the game.
Make them want to talk to you (but don’t write a three-volume memoir)
When writing a cover letter, you might find yourself faced with the age-old question: Does the person reading my application want to know about my dog and my hobbies? The answer is yes, probably—a little bit. “I believe it’s nice to know a bit more about the person and their interests other than their jobs,” says Alina. For example:
“Love to salsa dance and work with rescue animals whenever possible.”
Anything past a sentence is probably going to be too much information for the recruiter—a regular human person trying to do their job and not learn every single detail about your personal life—to take in and appreciate. “It’s just nice to know in general that you’re not a robot.”
On the receiving end of your application is another human being. But perhaps even more importantly — every time you send out a rushed job application, somewhere in the world, a kitten is deeply disappointed in you.
Oh, and please… no awkward selfies or bikini shots as your profile picture. That’s just common sense, really.
Ideas? Questions? Leave a response! Please note that no kittens were actually disappointed in the process of writing this blog post. That I know of.