Brother Ron Barnes
Founder and Pastor
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Completing Job Applications
The person who gets the job is not always the person who will do the best job. It's the person who does the best job of getting hired. Perhaps no aspect of the job search illustrates this better than completing the job application. If I have two applicants with the same qualifications, the one who turns in the neatest, most complete and relevant appplication wins the job. Here's how to submit a winning job application.
Bring a cheat sheet.
Job applications are usually reviewed by the personnel office. The person who reviews the application does not have the power to hire you. But they do have the power to reject your application and keep you from getting an interview with the person who can hire you. You do not want to give this person a reason to reject your application. One of the main reasons for rejecting applications is not completing the application.
In filling out a job application, you may be asked for information you have forgotten. Most people have trouble remembering the telephone number of a company they worked for ten years ago. When writing descriptions of job duties, some people have trouble composing under pressure. The secret is to come prepared. Have a completed generic application with you when you apply for the job. Since you completed the application with no pressure or time limit, you had time to look up addresses and telephone numbers. You will have written complete, accurate and relevant descriptions of your activities. Your application looks great and you have a much better chance of passing the screening process and getting the job interview.
Since government applications usually ask for the most detail, I recommend using one for your "cheat sheet". You probably won't need all the information on this form to complete your job application, but it's better to have too much information than not enough. You can download a South Carolina application at http://www.state.sc.us/jobs/application/. I recommend you get the Microsoft Word file because you can save it, edit it and revise it to meet the requirements of the job you are applying for. As your life and career change, you can make the appropriate changes in your form. While most computers have Acrobat Reader, they do not have the complete Adobe Acrobat program needed to edit an Acrobat file.
Use a black pen to complete your application.
You want to make it easy for the screener to read your application. Black ink is easier to read than pencil. Avoid red or other colors. It makes you look immature to the screener. Also avoid markers which can smudge and leave your application looking messy. If possible, take the application home and type it. Don't forget to check your spelling.
I can not emphasize this strongly enough. The person who screens your application probably never sees you. All they see is your application. A messy application goes in the garbage. You are applying for a job which will pay you thousands of dollars. If that's not worth a little extra time and attention, neither are you. That's the way personnel clerks think. If you mess up an entry or spill coffee on your application, ask for another one. You are not just filling out a form, you are creating a marketing document which will put money in your pocket.
Also remember that the person who screens your application probably has a stack of them, all competing for a limited number of jobs. You are in a beauty contest for the job. You want your application to be the most beautiful.
KISS the application.
Keep It Short and Simple. We just said the screener has a stack of applications to go through. It may be more important for them to finish the task by lunchtime than to find the most qualified applicant. That may not be right or fair but sometimes that's the way it works. Keep your job descriptions short and focused on duties which relate to the job you are applying for.
The person who screens your application is looking for three things in your previous jobs:
1. Relevance-how closely does your previous experience match the duties of the job you are applying for? As an example, I have been a professional musician most of my life. I have performed with some very famous people. I usually do not mention this on job applications because I am not applying for a job as a musician. I'm not ashamed of it, I just want to keep the screener's attention focused on relevant information.
2. Longevity-how long did you work in previous positions? Remember that your employer is going to have to spend time, effort and money to familiarize you with your new job. He does not want to have to do it again in a few months. If you have never held a job for more than a few months, the employer feels you will not be a long-term employee and will not be willing to spend time and money on you.
3. Continuity-be prepared to explain gaps in your employment history. Women leave jobs to give birth and raise children. Young people leave jobs to go to school. These are very good reasons for gaps in an enployment history. There are many others such as illness or injury. But people also quit jobs to go on drunken binges or do drugs. I realize this is extremely negative. But we must remember that the person who screens your application is not looking for reasons to hire you. They are looking for reasons to reject you. Try not to give them any.
Treat the employees with respect and courtesy.
Even if the people working for your prospective employer do not treat you with the respect and courtesy you feel you deserve, do not show impatience. Once your application is complete, these are the people who will deliver it for processing. You don't want to lose a job because your application got "lost" between the reception area and the human resources office.
This should get you off to a good start on filling out applications. For more good articles on applications, go to: