The ins and outs of graduate job application planning


Graduate job applicationsWhen was the last time you filled out an application form? If you’re a new graduate the chances are – it was when you applied for University, and even then your father gave you the best of his management advice and your mother probably proof read it. There are so many stages you have to go through to secure a job after graduation that it seems like it’s never ending and sometimes it feels like they make extra things up just to see how desperate you are to get a job. The one thing that you have to invest in and cannot afford to get wrong is … filling out your application form. Taking the time to create a flawless job application will pay dividends in getting to the next round and how you are viewed at every level. Your application form is how you will be identified through the whole hiring process; make sure that it links you to quality.

Plan, plan again, then plan some more.

By making yourself a plan you can make yourself the ideal applicant. You can think about all the things you need to put in BEFORE you fill out the form to avoid those forehead slapping ‘D’oh! Moments come. Start with yourself. Write down your skills and achievements and what you uniquely have to offer. Write as much as you can. Make a spreadsheet, compose a catalogue – write a book, do it any way that suits you, but put down all the things that you are or have done. Awards, extra credits and personal traits all go in here so make sure you have plenty to choose from.

Write out what courses you studied and experiences you had. Did you intern? Where? What did you work with? What skills did it give you?  Did you study abroad? Did you take any unusual or specialized courses? Did you join any extracurricular activities? Volunteer hours? Write down ANYTHING you think and employer may want to see on a resume.

Write out some examples of experiences you have had that have had an impact on you, or that are great examples of something impressive. Write out why they are important. Do you have an example of going the extra mile, making a difference or of something highly skilled? These are the examples employers will be looking for.

Armed with this ‘crib sheet’ of ideas you have a something to get your brain going when you get to the application form and settle down to actually fill it in. You can sit and stare at the blank boxes for any amount of time you want, but sometimes putting down something is all you need to set the ball rolling and stop the neurotic, ‘Is this what they’re looking for?’ Always amend your sheet if you remember something that you think would be useful for another application – you don’t have to use everything on your crib sheet, it’s just to stimulate ideas and give you some idea of where to go.

Time is of the Essence

Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the application form. Don’t be rushed. Whether it is a paper form or a digital one, take the time it needs to do it justice. You should tailor every resume and application form to the job you are applying for, but by taking the time to make a crib sheet and setting aside some uninterrupted time it won’t be a problem. All you need to do is organize it into the right sections.

Read the application form through before you start filling it in – you don’t want to play your trump card too early, or put all your best experiences into one section. Spread it out so the WHOLE application form is impressive, not just five lines worth.

Write all long answers out BEFORE you fill in the form. If it’s a paper one, long lines of white out are not impressive, and believe me, they crumble off when the paper is folded revealing what was written underneath for the prospective employer to see. For a digital application it means that you can spell check what you have written. More handy than you realize. One young man applied for a position in a very prestigious company I was working for and said he had been to, ‘Univerisity’, did I think he was Hip? Setting a trend? Would be remembered? No, I was just amazed that he had graduated and thought he should have asked for his money back.

Don’t be too slavish to a spell checker, especially if it is preemptive. Someone else applied for a job in the same company and told me via his application form that he had an, ‘excrement attendance record’. I sincerely hope he meant ‘excellent’.

Keep a copy of any job you apply for. If a similar application comes up you can cut and paste or copy some of the phrases down. It makes it much less work and you don’t get so tired of the repetitive aspect of applying for multiple jobs. Sometimes you write something so impressive it’s worth using again. Who would know?

Do not be afraid of filling out an application form. They are important, but with a little thought and a lot of planning, they can be an impressive work of art that starts the process to your dream job.

This post was courtesy of Free Resume Builder

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