As of August 2022, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 3.7%. That equates to over three million people across the country. In California, it’s even worse at 4.1% unemployment across the state. This means that if you’re searching for work, then the odds are that you’ll have a lot of competition.
In today’s job market, ensuring your job application stands out is more important than ever. With so many people throughout the U.S. competing for the same positions, it’s essential to take the time to understand the job application process in the United States, and learn more about what employers are looking for.
How The Process Of Applying For Jobs Has Changed In Recent Years
In the past, job applicants would typically submit a resume and cover letter to a company, either in person or by mail. The company would then review the application and invite the candidate in for an interview.
However, these days, companies are deviating from conventions, especially regarding the screening process. Not only are they checking references and doing background checks, but they’re also scouring the web for information on candidates, including on their social media profiles.
It’s essential to acknowledge that a shift has occurred in the job application process, and to know that companies are now reviewing candidates differently compared to times gone by.
With that in mind, the following guide includes everything you need to know about the application process:
The Most Crucial Elements Of The Application Process
One of the biggest differences between the application process then and now is that there are countless ways to submit your application. Back in the day, you could simply mail in your resume or drop it off in person. These days, you can also apply online, by email, or even on social media.
However you decide to submit your application, you must include:
- A Cover Letter: A cover letter briefly introduces you as a professional and why you’re interested in the position. It’s also a chance to explain why you’re the best candidate for the job. A cover letter is essential for creating an excellent first impression and providing a little insight into your personality.
- A Resume: Your resume summarizes your qualifications, experiences, and skills. Remember that you should tailor your resume to each specific job you’re applying for. Don’t make the mistake of submitting the same resume for different jobs.Hiring managers can tell when candidates do this, and doing so will only make you look like you’re lazy or not really all that interested in the position.
- References: Many employers will ask for references in the application process or during an interview. Include at least three references who can speak to your qualifications and professionalism. References can be former bosses, coworkers, or even professors.Just be sure to ask their permission before you list them as a reference – and make sure that their reference is relevant to the job you’re applying to.
- A Background Check: Many employers will also request a background or police check from candidates. Extensive background checks are especially common for positions requiring a high level of trust, such as healthcare and finance.Because many hiring managers will look at the social media profiles of their applicants, it’s crucial to ensure that yours is up-to-date and professional.
Secrets To Excel Throughout The Job Process
Although the job application process has changed in recent years, there are still some unspoken rules that candidates should know. Knowing these rules can leave a memorable impression on hiring managers.
With that in mind, the following are a few rules you should follow throughout the job application process to help improve your chances of getting hired:
- Read The Application Instructions First: This may seem like an easy decision, but you’d be surprised how many people make the mistake of not carefully reading the application instructions.Companies are particular about how they want candidates to write, format, and even address their resumes and cover letters. Every job is different, so you must follow the specific instructions provided. Doing so will show the hiring manager that you’re detail-oriented and can follow directions.
- Always Do Research Before Applying: In today’s digital age, there’s no excuse for not researching the company you’re applying to. Not only can the information you find help you tailor your resume to the position you want, but it will also become vital during the interview process.Before hitting the “submit” button on your application, be sure to do your research and learn as much as you can about the following:
- Company Culture: You’ll want to know whether you’ll fit in with the workplace culture at the company you are applying to. Understanding what the company culture is like will help you determine what you could bring to the team.If you don’t think you’re a good fit, or if you don’t like the company culture, you may want to keep searching for another job position elsewhere.
- Specific Duties Of The Position: To stand out from the competition, you’ll need to show that you’re knowledgeable about the particular responsibilities of the job you’re applying for. After all, you’ll want to demonstrate why you’re the best candidate for those duties.
- Salary And Benefits:It’s important the company’s salary and benefits expectations match your own. If they don’t, then there is probably no reason to apply.Additionally, if you get an interview, salary negotiation is usually part of the process. So, it is helpful to know what the company is offering as it will give you more negotiating power.
- Respect The Dress Code: To leave a good impression, dressappropriately when interviewing (whether in person or through videoconferencing). Employers expect candidates to dress conservatively for their interview, particularly in certain fields such as finance or law.However, a more casual dress code is often acceptable in other fields, such as technology or design. Do your research so you can identify and adhere to the appropriate dress code for the company you’re applying to.
- Pay Attention To Interview Questions: One of the best ways to make a lasting impression during an interview is to prepare your answers thoughtfully. While you can’t predict every question they’ll ask you, you can undoubtedly expect some of the more common ones.Doing so will help put your best foot forward and increase your chances of being offered the job. So, whether they ask questions you prepared for, pay careful attention to respond appropriately.
- Be Polite To Everyone: It’s not just the hiring manager or interviewer that you need to worry about impressing. Everyone you interact with during the application and interview process, from the receptionist to the person who scheduled your interview, can affect the final decision. Treat everyone respectfully and courteously to make the best impression possible.
- Follow Up, But Time It Right: Don’t forget to follow up after your interview. Doing so is a chance to thank the interviewer for their time and reiterate your interest in the position. This can help you leave a positive impression on the interviewer and keep your name at the top of the hiring manager’s mind.However, you don’t want to come across as too eager or desperate. The key is to strike the right balance by following up within a day or two of the interview, and not before.
- Never Take The First Offer: If you’re in the fortunate position of being offered the job, congratulations! However, don’t immediately accept the offer without first considering it carefully. Most times, the first offer is not the best offer. Most employers will expect you to make a counter to their first offer, which is why they’ll leave some room for negotiation.
Arm Yourself With The Right Tools For Your Job Application
There are millions of people searching for jobs in the U.S. – and this figure doesn’t account for anyone currently employed that is actively looking for a new job. As such, you must do everything you can to increase your chances of getting hired.
Take your time with your application and be respectful during the interview processes. In addition, follow any instructions you are given, do plenty of research, and be sure to prepare as much as possible. By approaching each position with care and attention, you’ll improve your chances of getting a job offer in the current job market.