The application is step one to landing a job

A well-prepared application increases the likelihood that potential employers notice young job seekers.

Many young people under-estimate the critical role of the job application process when seeking work. This seemingly ordinary form, though, is the pathway to the all-important first impression. Job seekers who overlook that are not likely to be offered an interview.

According to a proclamation by Gov. Rick Snyder, more than 287,000 Michigan youth are expected to seek work this summer; he estimates that only 211,000 of them will be successful. While the reasons for failing to find a job are varied, those who fail to impress employers right from the start are more likely to be unsuccessful.

Many employers no longer use paper applications. When businesses do offer both options, though, it may be advisable to choose to complete the paper version rather than online; it may be that the reason a paper option is offered is that the hiring manager is uncomfortable using the digital format, meaning he or she might pay more attention to a handwritten application.

When applying for a job in person, applicants should dress neatly and conservatively. Jeans might be acceptable when applying for a fast food type jobs or manual labor, but probably not for retail positions and definitely not for office work. If the most conservative person one knows would think a particular outfit is too revealing, it’s probably inappropriate for any part of the job seeking process. 

When greeted, applicants should say, “I’d like to apply for a job,” rather than, “I need a job application.” Needing a form is not the same as wanting to work.

Applications should be completed onsite and only taken home if an applicant is specifically told to return it later. Completing it right away shows an eagerness to work and provides assurance that the application is completed by the potential employee.

Care should be taken to complete the application neatly and completely. An applicant might consider bringing a completed sample application such as the one found here to serve as a guide. Write “N/A” (for not applicable) in any space that doesn’t apply rather than leaving it blank. Blank spaces make employers wonder whether an applicant is hiding something or whether he or she has problems following directions. An applicant with limited work experience should list volunteer experience in the work experience section. Don’t write “see resume” instead of completing the form; doing so may leave the impression that the applicant is lazy.

Whether applying in person or online, calling a week a week or so afterwards to check on the application status will bring the applicant to the attention of the hiring manager, perhaps increasing the chance of making it to the interview stage.

By adopting the attitude that the job interview really begins with the application process, applicants help to create an impression that will set them apart from the crowd and shorten their job search.

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