11 Tips for Targeting Your Application to a Job Posting
Focus your application to land an interview.
You're scrolling through the job listings on Care.com and you spot your perfect job. It's the one you've been waiting for, and you know you're the best person for the position. Unfortunately, several dozen other job seekers may be thinking the same thing. What can you do to make your application stand out?
Follow these 11 steps to hook prospective employers.
Know That Your Application Is Not About You
"First and foremost," advises Lisa McDonald, career coach, certified professional resume writer and owner of Career Polish, "keep in mind your [application] is not about you -- it is about them [the employer]. What is important to the employer? What are their needs? What is their environment, and what are their expectations?"
You should first answer these questions, and tailor your application so that you are the solution to the potential employer's needs. The message you compose to accompany your application is your opportunity to shine.
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Analyze the Job Posting
"When reviewing applicants, those hiring will be looking for someone who fits their specific needs," says Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs. A careful study of the job posting will help you formulate your application letter.
Break the posting down into a list of requirements. What tasks will you be expected to perform? What personality traits is this employer seeking? The posting may state specific characteristics, such as creative or mature, but look for the unstated as well. Does the position appear to require someone skilled at multi-tasking?
Armed with a list of requirements, you can tailor your message to demonstrate how well you meet this employer's needs.
Put Yourself in the Employer's Shoes
Anticipate what this employer may consider important. Sutton Fell points out that if a job requires chauffeuring children to activities, an excellent driving record will be a high priority. Mention you possess this.
Evaluate Your Previous Experiences
Think about your past positions and determine the value you brought to previous employers.
"Focus on the most important aspects, rather than giving a detailed, bullet-point list of every single duty you performed in the past," McDonald says.
Create a Yes-No List
Armed with a list of the job's requirements and your skills, determine how well they match.
McDonald suggests you write "yes" or "no" next to each requirement, based on how well your qualifications meet each need. "If the description is more heavily weighed on the 'no' side, do not apply. You will not be happy, and it will be a great waste of time for you and the employer."
Match the Employer's Tone
Take note of the tone of the job listing. Is it very formal or casual? You will want to communicate using the employer's language.
"Mimic the tone and words they use in order to form a comfort level," McDonald says. "We naturally gravitate to people who are like us so you want to make sure that you convey that you are a natural fit for the position and for them."
If a job description includes preparing meals, rather than merely saying you are an experienced cook, give details. For example: "In my previous position, I was responsible for preparing healthy, hot lunches daily for a family of five."
Point to Your Flexibility
Your availability will be the first thing most employers will consider. If your schedule is flexible, mention this. Unexpected events arise, and the position may require you take on tasks beyond the original job description. If you are willing to take on new challenges, say so.
Explain Why You Want the Job
A prospective employer will get a better feel for who you are if you include a brief statement about your own goals. Keep this short and honest. If you're applying for a housekeeping position, waxing poetic about your love of vanquishing germs is over the top.
Conclude With a Call to Action
Wrap up by expressing your desire for further contact. Let the employer know you welcome the opportunity to present your qualifications during a personal interview.
Double-check your letter for grammar and spelling. A careless error will make you look sloppy. Read it aloud to hear the flow of words. Your ears often pick up what your eyes miss when reading.
"You want to engage [employers] in the [application] to get them excited to read your resume," says McDonald. "Yes, you want to tell them you are the best candidate because if you do not promote yourself, who will?"
Gillian Burdett is a freelance writer living in New York's Adirondack Mountains. Her work can be found here.