A representative is one who speaks for another. A country s ambassador may aid or hinder his country by his actions. A lawyer can win large awards for his or her client, or could cause the client to go to jail.
In the same manner, an application is your representative in a company s office.
Over the years, I have told job seekers, Your application speaks for you. What is it saying? Will your application represent you well or poorly?
A basic problem the job seeker faces is how much and what to put in the little space provided on the company application. There is not sufficient space for people to give all the information they want to give.
I have suggested that job seekers attach a resume to supplement the company application. That does not mean you can skip the application, but in most cases it is best to submit a resume in addition to your application.
Sometimes job seekers get frustrated with the limited space and as a result say as little as possible, or worse yet, leave items blank. Occasionally applicants will omit dates or fail to list courses taken. Some veterans fail to list military training. Related work experience is left off. In those cases, the application speaks poorly of those job seekers.
One time I confronted an employer about the lack of space on their company s application. She replied in this manner: An important quality for our employees is the ability to prioritize, to work efficiently. We are looking for workers who can say in five words what others say in fifteen.
The way to have your application speak well for you is to make every word count. That takes time, and it is work. Some job seekers are not willing to do it.
I have instructed job seekers to take a job description, perhaps from a resume, and underline six to ten words that will tell the prospective employer what you are able to do. They should also sit down with the requirements for the job listed in the ad and underline important words from the ad. These are all keywords. Use those keywords on your application. Good use of the space allowed is important.
Your application fails you if you leave blank spaces or if it is not neat. Do not complete your application while eating lunch. Peanut better, jelly and spaghetti stains on an applications say, This guy is a slob.
I have talked about an application representing you well or poorly, but it can be average or fantastic, too. Which grade you get depends on how well you provide enough specific information to allow the employer to make a judgment on your qualifications.
Once, I was trying to find suitable applicants for an employer seeking administrative workers. The applicants had to be computer-savvy and be experienced or trained in WordPerfect. As I began looking at the applications, I was frustrated at the number who left course of study blank. Those applications represented the job seeker poorly.
Another group of applications at least listed clerical or secretarial as their courses of study. I would grade those applications as so-so, but they still didn t give me what I needed.
Better yet were applications that indicated the applicants had studied word processing, and I decided I would eventually contact those applicants.
Finally, a few specifically said they had training or experience in WordPerfect. Those applications represented their job seekers fantastically and were the first ones I called.
The moral of the story is that it is best to be specific in listing ones experience or course of study. Once I questioned an employer who required a specific type of computer aided drafting training while rejecting all others. The employer told me, Someone with other CAD training could learn to use our software, but I want someone who can walk in here and do the job I want right away, and I am willing to wait until I find that person.
I feel that an application represents you well when an employer can look at your application and make an intelligent decision about your suitability for a particular job.
Bob Lankard Bob Lankard, a business columnist for the Indiana Gazette and former program manager at the state Job Center in Indiana, Penn., offers common sense advice and innovative tactics to help all levels of job seekers satisfy their employment ambitions.
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By Bob Lankard