Applying for a job isn't as easy as just mailing your resume anymore. Technology has streamlined the process in some ways, but it's also made it more difficult in others. The main rule to remember when applying for a vacancy is to follow the instructions in the job ad to make sure you have the best chance of getting an interview.
Tailor Your Information
When reviewing the ad information regarding the open position's necessary skills and qualifications, determine how to change your resume to better reflect the company's needs. Don't stretch the truth, but alter your resume slightly so the hiring manager can easily spot how you'd be a good fit for the position. For example, if you're applying for a writing job and you're currently employed in marketing, focus your list of skills on how you must write for different audiences under deadlines. When applying for a sales job, change your skill list slightly to reflect how you found and serviced new marketing clients.
Spend some time going over the job ad several times, finding the ad on the company's website if possible. If you originally found the ad on a job site, it might be a shorter version than the company posted on its employment page. Pay attention to every detail, noting how they want to receive your resume -- by mail, fax or email -- and whether an additional application form is required. Some companies request work samples or references with your resume, and some specify no phone calls by applicants. Follow the ad's instructions carefully; people who don't pay attention to the directions might be automatically screened out of consideration.
Applying by mail is typically straightforward; you simply mail in your resume and cover letter on high-quality paper. Sending your documents by email is faster and easier, but you must follow the employer's instructions. Many companies are careful about what kind of files employees can download to help avoid viruses, which means the types of files you can use when sending your resume are limited. Some require the files in a word processing file, while others allow you to send PDFs. Many specifically disallow picture or video files, and some don't allow any attachments, which means you must copy and paste your resume into the email body. Also make sure your resume includes potential keywords because many employers use a computerized system to help eliminate the first round of candidates. These systems search for related keywords, such as "write" or "deadline" for a writing position, to filter out resumes that potentially aren't a fit.
Online applications help employers compare candidates on equal footing by making sure they all submit the same information, although many allow you to attach a resume as well. Keywords are important in online applications just as they are in emailed resumes. There's no way to know for sure what keywords the employer is looking for, so use your best judgement based on the qualifications listed in the job ad. Fill out each section completely without ever directing them back to your resume. The employer wants the information in a specific format -- if she wanted to review your resume for pertinent information, she wouldn't have created the online application process.
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