Job Application Checklist
Use the checklist below to keep track of your review and refinement process.
1. Learn the Basics
Understand that ATS systems are designed to screen resumes and rank them based on relevance to the job description.
Recognize that a significant percentage of resumes are never seen by human eyes due to ATS filtering.
Research common ATS platforms used by companies (e.g., Taleo, Greenhouse, Workday).
2. Continuous ATS Adaptation
Realize that ATS algorithms and functionalities can evolve, so it's essential to keep updated on the latest trends.
If consistently facing rejections, consider seeking feedback to understand if the issue lies with ATS compatibility or content.
3. Understanding Rejection
Understand that even if a resume is ATS-optimized, other factors (e.g., experience, skills mismatch) can lead to non-selection.
Recognize that optimizing for ATS is an iterative process, and each application can provide insights for improvement.
4. Cover Letter Essentials
Whenever possible, address the cover letter to a specific person (e.g., "Dear Ms. Smith") rather than generic greetings like "To Whom It May Concern".
Begin with a compelling introduction that captures attention and outlines why you're interested in this specific job and company.
Summarize your most relevant qualifications and experiences, showing how they align with the job's requirements.
A cover letter should complement, not replicate, your resume. Keep it succinct, usually within one page.
Demonstrate that you've researched the company and understand its goals, mission, and challenges.
Conclude by expressing your desire for an interview or further discussion, showing your proactive approach.
Ensure there are no grammatical or typographical errors. A well-polished cover letter reflects professionalism.
Your cover letter and resume should have a consistent design, font, and formatting to present a unified package.
Tailor your cover letter for each job application, ensuring it speaks directly to the specific role and company.
Adhere to any guidelines or requirements provided in the job posting regarding the cover letter's format, length, or method of submission.
5. Digital Footprint
Conduct a self-search on Google to see what prospective employers might find. This can give you insights into your online presence and reputation.
Ensure that your profile pictures on professional platforms like LinkedIn reflect a professional image.
Review and adjust the privacy settings of personal social media accounts. Remove or make private any inappropriate or controversial posts, photos, or comments.
Share and engage with content related to your industry on platforms like LinkedIn to demonstrate your interest and expertise in your field.
Ensure that the details on your resume match those on your LinkedIn and other professional profiles, such as job titles and dates.
If relevant, maintain a personal website or portfolio that showcases your work, skills, and achievements. Make sure it's updated and free of errors.
Publicly criticizing or speaking ill of past employers or colleagues can be seen as unprofessional.
Engaging in relevant forums or groups can demonstrate your passion and commitment to your industry.
Build and nurture professional connections online, especially on platforms like LinkedIn.
Regularly check and refresh your digital presence. The digital landscape evolves rapidly, and you want to remain current and relevant.
6. Submission Best Practices
Always adhere to the specific guidelines provided in the job posting regarding document format, naming conventions, and other submission-related details.
Name your files clearly, typically following the format "FirstName_LastName_Resume" or "FirstName_LastName_CoverLetter" to ensure they're easily identifiable.
If submitting via email, consider sending a test to yourself first to ensure attachments open correctly and formatting remains intact.
Opt for an email address that's professional, ideally based on your name, avoiding nicknames or unrelated terms.
When emailing, use a clear and relevant subject line, such as "Job Application - [Your Name] - [Position Name]".
Write a brief, professional message in the email body, even if most details are in your cover letter. Introduce yourself and specify the position you're applying for.
Maintain a log of job applications, including the company, position, date of submission, and any follow-up actions to stay organized.
If you haven't received a response after a week or two, consider sending a polite follow-up email to reaffirm your interest.
Unless specified, try to consolidate your documents, perhaps merging your cover letter and resume into one PDF, for convenience.
While not directly related to submission, sending a thank you email post-interview can leave a positive impression and demonstrate your professionalism.
7. Post-Submission Follow-Up
Before following up, give employers some time to process applications. Typically, a wait of 1-2 weeks post-submission is considered respectful.
When following up, always be courteous. Express your continued interest in the position and inquire about the timeline for next steps.
Provide context by mentioning the date of your application and the position you applied for.
If you've already followed up once, avoid repeated messages which might come off as impatient or pushy.
After an interview, it's a good practice to send a thank you note (or email) expressing gratitude for the opportunity and reiterating your interest.
If you're not selected, consider politely asking for feedback. It can provide valuable insights for your future applications.
Even if you don't get the job, consider connecting with the interviewer or HR representative on professional networks like LinkedIn. It could open doors in the future.
Document your follow-up communications, including dates and responses, to stay organized and avoid any missteps.
If an employer mentions that there might be a more suitable opening in the future, express your openness to such opportunities.
If an employer communicates that the position has been filled or they've chosen to move forward with another candidate, thank them for their time and move on gracefully.