August 10, 2022
At Priority Candidates, we work extensively with clients on creating their resume and cover letter to ensure they highlight the candidates qualifications and fit for the job they are applying. These job search fundamentals require care and attention or you will spend far more time completing and submitting job applications, so be sure you are properly prepared.
Before you are able to submit a job application, you will need to ensure that your resume is complete, correct, and finalized as both a Word document and a PDF. Review it for the accuracy of workplaces, job titles, dates worked, schools attended, and degrees received. Make sure to refer to your resume when filling out the job application so all the information that appears in your resume is the same as the application. If you created your resume a few months ago, it is likely due for some updates. Make sure that your email address and phone numbers are current.
Check to see if the application allows or requires you to submit a cover letter. If it states that the cover letter is optional, submitting one underscores your interest in the role. Check out our tool for writing a successful cover letter, or work with someone you trust — like a job coach, to ensure your cover letter is the best it can be. Make sure it is no longer than one page and is not a repetition of the resume. Save the cover letter as a Word document and a PDF, but use the PDF for the application.
Once you are ready to get started filling out the application, the most important thing is to work slowly and accurately and follow all instructions. Some job applications do not allow you to backtrack — taking your time to fill out information can be the difference in hearing back from a company. Never assume that the system will “autocorrect” — capitalization is important. Applicant Tracking Systems (and later, the human recruiters) will be screening out people who don’t use proper care.
Accuracy of information
That you uploaded your resume and cover letter as a PDF when applicable. You may also have the option to use your LinkedIn profile, but only if it is robust and fully completed.
If there are additional steps that the company is asking you to take – completing an assessment within a given time frame.
Your email daily after submitting your application, so no company communications are routed to spam.
That your voicemail recording announces your name and is current and professional. Make sure to delete voicemails that you heard so there is room in your “mailbox” in case someone tries to get in touch with you
Allow your resume to autofill the data (to save time) but then review carefully to ensure it populated correctly. Don’t rush through as a misplaced answer might cause your entire application to be immediately rejected.
Contact Information: email, address, phone number
Eligibility to work in the US
Disability and demographic information
Education: schools attended, major/degree, dates attended
When you can start work
Employment Information: job titles, places of employment, dates of employment, reasons for leaving a previous job
References (typically 2 or 3)
Social Media URL (LinkedIn)
Check the job application against the resume to make sure the information is identical. Any discrepancy could show up in a background check and jeopardize your offer.
A job application may ask you for references. Because of this, you should have at least three people on standby who have given you permission to use them as references. Make sure to ask each reference if they can give positive feedback about your performance; send each a copy of the job description so they can describe you in a way that aligns with the role. Your references should know you in a professional setting. Past employers and professors make solid references, while friends and family do not.
When discussing expectations for your salary, put down “negotiable” or give a range. If you don’t know where to start, look on Glassdoor to get an idea of the range for the position you’re applying for, and use the low to mid-range number. Using a range will get you in the door while still giving you room to negotiate a higher salary when you are hired. Tip: you can ask a trusted friend who graduated last year in your field.
If a potential employer asks why you left your last job, answer honestly! Present the situation in the most positive light possible while not bending the truth. If your employer finds out that you provided false information in the application process, they can use that as cause for dismissal. When discussing an internship, you can simply write “internship ended.”
Occasionally an employer will ask you to complete an assessment along with your application. These can be required before you are able to complete an application or once the application is submitted. You generally cannot prepare for these, but you can try searching Google to learn about different assessment formats.
An early job seeker might apply to 20 jobs or 120 jobs in the course of a search. If you do not feel confident in the many steps along the job search journey (resume development, cover letter creation, setting a strategic job sourcing plan, and finding ways to execute it efficiently), reach out to us to see if we can be of help in supporting you in a program to position you for success.