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For IT professionals, job opportunities seem to be endless – especially if your specialty is highly sought after. When in need of a new position, however, it’s never wise to sit back and wait for the opportunities to come to you; you’ll need to go out and find them (“fortune favors the bold”). Whether that be through networking conferences/events, via referrals, through job boards and career websites, job fairs, or company websites, the onus for finding and landing a new position falls squarely on your shoulders. Once a job opportunity has been identified, however, there are things candidates should and should not be doing when applying for positions.

In this blog post, we’ll offer our opinion – which comes with over 25 years of industry experience – on job application best practices.

Job Application Best Practices

Tailor Your Resume

When evaluating resumes, hiring managers and recruiters are taking your resume and placing it side-by-side with the job description to decide if you have the skills and experience needed to perform the job. For contract positions, specifically, they want to see evidence that you can come in and hit the ground running on day one. When you create a general resume, despite how impressive it may be, it may not be in line with what the company/recruiter/manager is looking for. Instead, make your resume read to the job description, without lying or exaggerating, and match it to its requirements. Despite it taking more time, you’ll find your number of call backs to be greatly increased.

Don’t Apply to Any and Every Job

If you feel your past job history and experiences qualifies you for several different positions and specialties, apply for them. Don’t, however, apply to any and every job position you’d like to be considered for when it’s with the same company – end client or staffing firm. This practice is frowned upon and alludes to your background as a jack of all trades, master of none.

Instead, when applying to positions on company job boards, such as ours, submit your application to the role you feel you’re most qualified for. Then, once you’re in conversations with either the recruiter or hiring manager you can have a more in-depth conversation about how you feel your qualifications extend to other positions. If you’re unwilling to take this approach and would like to apply to positions with differing titles/responsibilities, then please make sure you’re applying with altered versions of your resume (aka a tailored resume).

Take Your Time

If you’re doing them right, applications take time. So, make sure you aren’t being hasty; take the time to properly check your spelling, punctuation, and grammar. If the application process requires you to answer questions, be thoughtful and thorough in each of your responses. While the process may seem frivolous, don’t take anything for granted and be sure to devote the proper amount of time to the application.

Send Completed Resumes

If the idea of applying to a coveted position without a completed resume sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. You’d be surprised at how often it happens, though. While some job seekers may want to maintain a low profile, especially if they’re already employed full-time, keeping their resumes devoid of pertinent information does them no favors. Recruiters and hiring managers have very busy schedules and according to some statistics, average less than 30 seconds when reviewing resumes. This means they’re more likely than not going to spend time chasing down the completed version of your resume – which to the best of their knowledge, may not even exist. If, however, you still fear putting that information out there, then explain in a cover letter how you feel you’d be a fit for the position and that a completed more in-depth version of your resume is available upon request.

Properly Format Your Resume

The goal of formatting your resume is to create a professional looking, easy-to-read document. As previously mentioned, hiring managers and recruiters have only a short amount of time to review resumes so your formatting decisions should make information clear and easy to find. In general, there a three popular resume formats:

  1. Chronological Resume – This is a resume format that prioritizes relevant professional experience and achievements (this is the most traditional resume format, and by far the most popular).
  2. Functional Resume – This is a type of resume format that highlights skills and abilities (typically used by those with gaps in their work history).
  3. Combination Resume – This type of format is, as its title suggests, a combination of both a chronological and functional resume. It uses both work history and skills to capture the employer’s/recruiter’s attention.

For a more detailed breakdown on how to format a resume, consult our previous blog post, “Resume Advice to Get You Noticed.”

Follow Up

Following up to check on your candidacy for a role shows your persistence and interest in the position. Rather than sitting around waiting for an email or call, take the initiative and follow up on your application. Most recruiters/hiring managers will appreciate your desire and may even reconsider you for the opportunity if they had already deemed you not a fit. Wait at least a handful of days or a week to do so, however. Doing it in less time, or too frequently, is an easy way to disqualify yourself.

If you’re looking for even more resume, career, and job search advice, consult our blog! It’s full of information designed to help consultants and job seekers!

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