This lesson provides an overview of the application process. Below we discuss the kinds of application forms and portals used by different companies and organizations, and the challenges you might encounter in using them. Some smaller organizations will simply request that you email a cover letter and resume and we go over how to do that properly. Finally, we provide some tips both about the timing of applying and about how to stay organized in your search.
In the sections that follow, we dig more deeply into topics including:
-Targeting your cover letter and resume
-Coupling your application with a message through LinkedIn
-How many applications you should be submitting
-And – as a bonus! – a discussion of how to incorporate mindfulness practices (meditation or just simple breathing exercises) into your search process.
Companies may have a variety of ways for candidates to apply. Usually you can apply directly through the job posting listed on their website (typically under the “Careers” tab). However, they may have you apply in other ways. Smaller organizations will often ask that you email them directly. Larger companies and organizations will have formal systems in place and require you to apply through their ATS (Applicant Tracking System).
Applicant tracking systems are the portals that companies use to manage their job openings and applications. NOT ALL ARE CREATED EQUAL! Some, like WorkDay, are pretty user friendly, while others can be glitchy and really annoying. Sometimes you fill out all the little boxes only to have it delete your information. Other times, the systems won’t let you save your information. Whatever the case may be, be patient (take a breath or two… which we’ll discuss more fully in the last topic in this lesson) and do your best to push through to the end.
DO I REALLY NEED TO FILL OUT ALL OF THIS?!
Clients frequently ask me if they need to fill out ALL of the sections on the application form. In general, the answer is “yes.” You should fill out all of the sections.
When the job posting asks that you submit your information to an email address, these are the steps to follow:
Subject line: Write out the exact job or internship title and the word “application”: e.g., “Social Media Coordinator – Application.”
Body of the email: If you have a contact name (found on either the job posting or via LinkedIn) then use a simple salutation (“Dear”) and that person’s complete name: e.g., “Dear Rebecca Smith” or “Dean John Jones.” Otherwise, you can always write: “Dear Hiring Manager” (or even “Dear Hiring Committee”).
Dear Rebecca Smith (or Dear Hiring Manager):
Attached, please find my cover letter and resume for the Social Media Coordinator position. Thank you for your consideration.
I have also been asked about the best time to apply. The earlier you apply to a new posting, the better. And don’t worry about the optimal day of the week: any day works, even weekends!
You may also want to set yourself up to receive daily job notifications on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, which can be a good way to find out about new postings when they first get posted. However, be careful not to jam up your email box as you run the risk of missing an important email from a potential employer buried somewhere in between these notifications if you are getting too many!
Now let’s move on to the next topic: First Steps: Targeting your Cover Letter and Resume.