A Pre-Application Checklist For Success

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Helpful checklist from Career Step on how to get a job.
Most job-seekers have a sense of urgency about their job search. Whether that is an excitement to apply their training and get started in the field, or a need to support themselves or their family members, they want a position now, and it would have been better if they had the position yesterday! For that reason, most job seekers are also looking for the fastest and most efficient way to apply to as many employers and positions as possible. They see the Apply Now button at the end of an online job listing and unfortunately, they hit that button and immediately begin filling out a job application before taking the time to ensure they have a quality application.

Although it initially takes more time and effort to complete these pre-application steps, you will likely find employment more quickly if you complete each of these steps before hitting Apply Now for each job listing you find in the course of your job search:

1) Make sure your resume and cover letter are targeted to that position.
Compare side by side the job listing, your resume, and your cover letter. What you plan to submit should contain some of the same key words, skills, qualities, and phrases you find on the job listing. If they don’t match, consider tweaking them first before you apply. This comparison will help you to evaluate how well you come across as the best applicant and candidate for the position.

2) Look up the employer’s website.
If the employer name is available, you have enough information to find the employer website (if it exists). Use Google or another search engine and the city in which the position is posted to find it. By reading over the employer’s website, you can identify information that helps you to further target your application, phone numbers and a physical address for the employer, and in some cases, additional posted positions.

3) Make a plan for application and follow up.
Based on all the information you have available, you can now create a plan for your application and follow up. If possible, it is always ideal to apply in person, send a personalized email to a specific individual, or contact them by phone before or after the application. A combination of all these approaches is going to be better than hitting the Apply Now button and simply hoping your application stands out..

  • If you now have (via the job listing or the employer website) a recruiter’s or Human Resource manager’s email address, consider sending an email to their direct address with your resume attached rather than simply applying online.
  • If you have the employer’s address, consider making a professional visit in person with a copy of your resume.
  • If you have contact names or phone numbers, plan to call a few days after submitting your application or contact them directly to sell yourself and get more information about the position. In some cases, contact information will not be listed, or information you find will direct you back to the online application as the only option. Do your best; when you are trying multiple approaches for contacting an employer, the result will be more information than you initially started with and you will also be setting yourself apart as an applicant with initiative.

4) Take note of where the job was posted.
You may find jobs that are posted directly on an employer’s home page, but you will also find that many job boards incorporate listings from multiple websites. For that reason, always be sure to note where that job was initially posted. Visit that website and search for similar positions. Oftentimes, you can find additional open positions, and you can also add a helpful job board to the list of places you check regularly.

5) Update job alerts.
If you find a new website where jobs are posted and there is a feature to set up a job alert or emailed update when new jobs are posted, take advantage of that opportunity. Your most efficient searching will come as you are immediately updated when new positions fit your criteria, rather than checking back over and over only to miss out on positions because they have been filled. Using search terms like “ICD-9,” “medical records,” or “coder” will help you find positions, but it is best to try a number of different searches and then evaluate your results. As you are constantly evaluating, expanding, and varying your searches—even with small changes—you will find you are generating the largest scope of positions for which to apply.

6) Save employer information.
Keep a document that includes important contact information for an employer, the dates for how and when you applied, and the future date you plan to follow up. Check and update this document each time you apply to a job to ensure you are following up with applications in a timely manner. Once you find a position, do not discard this document, as it can benefit you in the future when you are seeking a new position. If you have documented the details along the way, you will save yourself the time and energy of having to repeat some of the same steps in a future job search.

Quality applications take time, but taking the time now will ensure you quicker success and more benefit in days to come.


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