Back to Basics: Tips for Applying for a Job in the Digital Age

June 28th, 2012 by Lauren Christy

Applying for a job is something that we all have to do at one point or another in our careers – unless you won the lottery at 18, or are an heir to a billion dollar empire where you can lounge on a beach in Cabo while waiters bring you Mai Tai’s all day. For the rest of us, the job market is something we will become all too familiar with. From crafting that perfect cover email to making sure your online presence is spick-and-span, here are a few tips you can use.

Now, there are probably a million and one tips on how to apply to a job correctly and that’s why they have an entire section at Barnes and Noble dedicated to it. However, there are a few particular mistakes that seem to pop up time and time again. A few of the following guidelines will help anyone out there in this Hunger Games-style job market, where every open position seems like a fight to the death.

You want me to pay attention?

All companies have different ways of accepting resumes/applications. Make sure that you apply for the position in the way they request, whether it’s via email, within the company’s website, or through a job search hub. You don’t want your potential future employer’s first impression to be of someone that can’t follow instructions.

Polish your social media presence to a professional shine

Your online image is important, and becoming increasingly more so in the 21st century. While being asked for your login information is unethical and potentially illegal, expect that anything you’ve left open for public viewing to be perused by potential employers and prune your profiles accordingly.

That’s not how it was supposed to look!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened a resume to only see it look as if the applicant fell asleep on their keyboard, with weird spacing and columns all out of whack. There is an easy fix for this: once you have formatted your resume the way you want it, save it as a PDF. This way anyone that opens it, on any software or platform, will see it exactly the way you intended it to look.

I’ve seen this before…

Generic cover letters are fairly obvious to spot and aren’t much cared for by the hiring managers. You want them to feel as if this is the only position you are interested in. This is why you want the letter to be customized. You can do this by mentioning the company and position, where you found the ad, and what qualifications you have that meet the mentioned requirements.

What company is this for again?

We all know applying for jobs isn’t fun and can be very time-consuming. But when you are sending an email applying to a post, DO NOT apply to every position you find in one email. When employers see this, they think that you are desperate and willing to take anything. This means send a separate email per company/position.

Dear Madam or Sir

Even if you are submitting via email, you still need a cover letter. And by cover letter, I don’t mean an autobiography. Keep it to about 3 paragraphs. This should be in the body of the email and formatted with correct grammar and spelling. Showing your excitement about the job and thanking them for their time can only make you look better.

These tips may seem like common sense to some people, but the mistakes are frequently made and can lead to an immediate weed-out. By following these quick fixes, you can expect to more effectively and efficiently stand from to your competitors.