When I speak to mentoring clients about job applications, one of the most frequent comments is about just how dull the process is. This is true, whether you are applying to dozens of jobs a month or just looking around and considering a change. The process can be draining and exhausting. The challenge is to keep up the energy and enthusiasm, because if you lose that focus, your applications will transmit apathy. At the very least, applications need to be assertive and positive, as well as telling the potential employer that you are the right person to hire.
Here are a few pointers to keeping that focus and energy in your applications:
1 - Depending on your circumstances, build times into the day when you work on applications. Create a structure and timetable. Work on applications when you are at your most effective (some people work better in the mornings than afternoons, for example). If you are already in a job, then give yourself one evening a week to focus on jobs and applications or allocate a specific time at the weekend.
2 - Keep a spreadsheet of applications and send chase emails two/three weeks after the job has closed if you have heard nothing. Keeping track of who you have applied to is also useful, so you can refer back as your career progresses. Save the advert link and text of the advert, as it can sometimes be weeks before you're invited for an interview. That way you can check back to see what the advert talked about in terms of requirements.
3 - Don't change your CV for every application. The cover letter is often more important and should be tailored for the job.
4 - Break down the jobs you see into levels of importance/interest. For example, top rated roles you really want, jobs you are merely interested in and perhaps those that are worth exploring but are a bit random. For each of these categories, expend the right amount of time and energy. The jobs you really want need the cover letter (if required) perfected. It should include strong demonstrable skills and an understanding of the employer and the role advertised. It is impossible to do this for every application, so on the other categories of job you see, the 'non-dream jobs', create a template cover letter and CV that can be relatively unchanged for each application. This will ease the burden each time you apply.
5 - It is key to research the organisation you are applying to. Make sure you know what they do and how they operate, but only do this for the jobs that you really, really want.
6 - Avoid beating yourself up when you get no reply from applications. Many companies have busy or inefficent human resources teams (if they have an HR department). This means that not every applicant is contacted and sometimes good applicants slip throught the net. It is why contacting people directly to say you have applied is important.
7 - Set yourself a realistic target for job applications each week. If you are applying to 10 or more a week you won't be doing them all to a good standard. Be more focussed in who you apply to, especially if time pressures are an issue.
8 - Don't rush applications. Clients can often see an advert and quickly apply through excitement. Start the application and come back to it after a day - to check for mistakes and improvements.
9 - Try and avoid leaving applications until the closing date. Employers often start selecting candidates as soon as the job advert is live. Leaving it too late or too close to the deadline, risks missing out.
10 - Speak to someone to share your experience. Feeling lonely or isolated when applying for jobs is common. Get friends or colleagues to check your CV and applications.
Having someone to talk to during the job application process is key, for feedback and keeping your confidence up. Mentoring clients find the neutral and honest feedback I can give really useful, so if you are struggling with your applications, drop me a line.