Looking for a job is stressful. You spend hours searching for positions and then the often tedious task of applying awaits.
It’s often the same questions, forms, and requirements, yet every position has its own options for customization. And let’s face it, every employer wants to see that you really want the job, so they expect a bit of effort.
On the other hand, submitting applications is a numbers game. The more applications you fill out, the more likely you are to land an awesome job.
So how do you submit awesome applications without overwhelming yourself with hours of tedious cover letter writing? I’ve got some tips to help you out, and it all starts with preparation.
Employers love customized resumes, and the quickest way to do this is with Google Docs. A resume should be specific to the industry and/or position you want to apply for.
- Put your resume in a Google Doc
- Make a version for each position you can hold (Content Marketer, Tech Support, Customer Service, etc)
- Bookmark each version to your bookmark folder
- Quickly open the needed version, customize, and download the PDF when needed. (Always skim to make sure you aren’t leaving in old customizations.)
- If you decide not to customize for every application, keep a version for each position on your computer, then grab the right one to add to an application.
- Add links to your resume. If the recruiter is looking at your application, make it easy for them to click and visit your site, articles, profiles, etc.
- Have a standout reference or recommendation on your resume. This saves the recruiter time and helps you stand out.
Why multiple versions of your resume?
Employers usually get dozens of applicants for each position. If yours doesn’t stand out as a good fit for the job ad, it will get passed for another that does. Basically, it wastes your time and theirs.
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Cover Letter Hacks
This is the most important part of your application, followed by customized questions in the job ad. These are the two places to show your unique qualities and abilities.
It’s common for applicants to use the same resume when applying in multiple places, but no two cover letters should be the same. However, you don’t have to write each cover letter from scratch.
- Build a template on Google docs
- Bookmark it
- Open it, customize, copy, and then paste in your application
(Here are several resume and cover letter templates you can copy to make your own documents. )
Use a notepad on your computer to change and copy your cover letter. I use MiniNote Pro on my Mac as it sits in my toolbar and is easily accessible. I just scroll over the top toolbar on my computer and hit the icon for MiniNote and it comes up.
What should be in your template?
In this post from Aha, you’ll read about cover letters CEOs read. It’s a simple template that makes it easy to stand out, share how you’ll benefit the company, and not waste their time reading long introductions.
A template is great, but the benefits of working with you must be customized for every company, based on their ad. A form fill answer will not work. Share how and why you would be best for this position.
You can also keep a few versions of a cover letter in a doc, then quickly copy/paste it into your application form and make customizations there. This doesn’t need to take a long time, but you can get a sense of their needs by reading the job ad and sticking to their tone and struggles.
Your cover letter only needs a few customized sentences. Read the entire job ad and point out the important holes in what the company is missing. Then make sure your cover letter customizations target these needs.
Job Choice Hacks
When it feels like your job search isn’t going well, you tend to consider any job that comes along. I strongly urge that you do not to apply for positions you wouldn’t happily accept. Be selective in applying. No one wants to waste their time — not you nor the company hiring.
While being choosy will feel less productive, it will help you weed out the interviews and positions you don’t want, leaving more time for customizations on the positions you really want.
Skim job ads for the important things that stick out for you. Will you consider the salary? Is there one listed? If not, run a quick search on Google for the position and company name to see if the salary is listed elsewhere (sometimes you’ll find it on AngelList).
Next, visit their website to see if they offer the perks you need, such as health benefits, equipment, equity, telecommuting, etc.
Browse several jobs and companies at once, and Pocket those where you want to apply. Then go back and apply when you can give each application the appropriate attention.
Filling out applications is a mundane task to begin with, so again we turn to preparation to make the job easier.
Linkedin fillin. Start by filling out your Linkedin profile to include all of your information. Several sites now accept an import of your Linkedin profile. If everything is already on the profile, you save a lot of time.
The custom fields feature in LastPass
Use email templates. You can save templates for emails (cover letters) in Gmail. Then all you have to do is insert the template:
How to insert a cover letter template, or “canned response,” with Gmail
As I stated earlier, you can use a notepad or Google Docs to keep a variety of cover letters at hand for filling out applications.
To speed up responses to requests for an interview, start by setting up your signature to include the following:
- Your name
- Calendar link
You can also use the free tool MixMax that allows you to offer times for interviews. This is a Chrome extension.
Another reason to keep this information in your signature is to make it easy for recruiters to quickly visit your professional profile and website without having to look it up.
Follow Up Hacks
As you are applying for different ads, you can keep track in a simple text note. MiniNote Pro (there is a free version as well) works great for this.
Keeping the link for each position handy, the email address of the hiring manager, and the date for each time you follow up.
Marcus Sheridan once wrote a post about how he was hiring for marketing, and out of the dozens of applicants, only two actually followed up. They put in the extra effort that would grab his attention.
In a recent post, I shared four major hacks to finding remote positions here on Hubstaff. This article will help you find remote positions to apply to, and you can use these tips to apply quickly while offering the customizations necessary to grab employers’ attention.
Do you have any application hacks? Share them with everyone in the comments.