I’ve written about job and program applications over and over, so here are a few you should check out before you dive into this one:
So, if you’re fresh out of school, or an old job, and are totally overwhelmed by the thought of diving into job hunting, you are not alone. That shit is exhausting. Whenever I have a break from it for a while (you know, those precious moments in time where you are employed and aren’t eating Cheetos crying over where your next rent payment will come from) I never know quite how to step back into it. I almost have to orient myself to the process again. So if that’s how you’re feeling, you are in the right place! Since I’ve been on a roll with job applications (at the time of writing this), I’m going to share my process with you. This is what I’ve done to stay sane and on task. It could be completelyyyy opposite what you’ve done or what works for you, in which case, continue. You do you.
- Make a folder for each application in google drive. I then created the following google docs:
- The Job Posting + Research
- My Drafted Cover Letter
- My Resume
- Q&A – Questions I have for them about the job and “answers” that come to me that could be helpful if they were to interview me.
- I used the comment feature to comment on the job description with examples of how I’ve met the criteria. Don’t waste time wording this properly or anything – just start to jog your own memory about what you’ve done that overlap with what they want.
- Consider the parts of the job that don’t as naturally suit your experiences and skills. Think hard about them. Ask yourself, “What skills have I used in other jobs that would be helpful if I were to do X?”. Think outside the box a little and think about any possible common ground between the task listed and the experiences you’ve had. Sometimes you have to stretch and bend to make things work – don’t be afraid to do that.
- Research the friggen company. Guys, I shouldn’t even have to say it if you’ve gotten this far and are a nutrition professional, but read the company’s mission and vision and familiarize yourself with the work they’ve been doing the past year or so. Doing this will not only help you see commonalities between yourself and the company but will make you seem informed, prepared and INTERESTED in a potential interview.
- On paper, I write a list of things I’d love to highlight in my application if I could. I ask myself, “Why am I a good candidate?” and I jot down all my reasons/related experiences. Don’t worry about how big this list gets – you won’t be including all of it but it’s important to do this activity to make sure you don’t forget about something amazing you did a million years ago that is worth mentioning.
- Pick 3 things from that list, or make 3 categories from that list. These could be categories of skills, or categories of experiences. These ‘3 things’ become paragraphs. I.e. In one scenario I could choose to discuss my skills in communication, leadership, and partnership, and speak to various job experiences and examples where I’ve demonstrated those lately. In another scenario, I might want to discuss 3 recent experiences that are super related to the job I’m applying to, and speak about my skills within those. I never quite know what approach I prefer.
- The structure of your letter is coming along now. On a separate paper (I’m an old-school paper person, can you tell? ;)) I write Intro, P1, P2, P3 and Conclusion down the left-hand side. On the right, I jot the points I really want to make in each paragraph. Doing this keeps you on track and makes sure you won’t accidentally ramble on about something only partially helpful.
- It’s hard to part from everything else on your list in step 5 isn’t it? Don’t worry – now is your chance to pull from that again! I have a ‘highlight of qualifications’ section on the top of my CV. If you do as well, here is your chance to stick in some of those relevant pieces that didn’t quite make the cut in the letter. The dilemma: What if people scan your resume and don’t read the letter? I’m unsure. I keep this in mind even more-so when I’m applying to a company through their HR department, but for smaller-scale organizations, I have a little more faith they’ll take a closer look. (Wishful thinking perhaps?)
- Go back to the job description and now highlight every adjective. Notice the language used. The job description might say, “Must be willing to work collaboratively with various stakeholders” and your resume might say, “worked with people in various departments to XYZ..” Change it. Mirror the language as much as you can.
- Label your application with your name and what you are applying to. If an employer receives an attachment that says ‘Good Job Application FINAL’, that’s just awkward. Even if you label it with the job title itself, though that’s better, it could get lost in the 50 other applicants who called theirs the same thing.
Well that’s all my rambling for now. If you have any questions please do get in touch. In the meantime, happy hunting!