The Do’s and Don’ts of Job Applications: Apply vs. Pass

Finding the right job can be a time-consuming and, at times, disheartening process. It’s tempting to blast your resume to every opening that seems remotely suitable, but this approach can backfire.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help you decipher the best practices in applying for jobs! Let’s discuss the necessary considerations and steps you should follow when looking for your next position.

Before You Apply
  • Carefully read the job description: This might sound obvious, but thoroughly understanding the position’s requirements and responsibilities is the most important factor in whether you should apply. When you apply for roles that aren’t reflective of your experience, you announce to the person reviewing applications that you did not read or consider the posted job description.
  • Assess your fit: Does the role align with your skills, experience, and career goals? Do you meet the necessary requirements (security clearance, education, certifications)?
  • Review your resume: Does it accurately reflect all your skills and experiences that are relevant to the position? Highlight the areas where your qualifications match the job description. You may have the necessary experience that isn’t readily obvious from your resume. Take a moment to add these before applying!
When Not to Apply
  • You lack the fundamental requirements: If the job posting explicitly requires a security clearance, college degree, or specific certifications that you don’t currently possess, do not apply. However, if you feel an exception should be made, consider sending a cover letter acknowledging the requirement and addressing why you are applying anyway. An example of this would be that a master’s degree + 5 years of experience in the field are required. Perhaps you have a bachelor’s degree and 10 years of experience. The answer still may be no, but at least you have shown yourself to be a person who pays attention to the details and addresses potential issues head on.
  • You’re a poor fit for the company culture: Do your research! If you strongly disagree with a company’s mission, values, or practices, save yourself the disappointment and seek a position better aligned with your principles. At the Squires Group, we believe that a great cultural fit is just an important as a skill based fit.
When You Should Apply
  • You meet most of the preferences: Often, job postings have a list of “required” and “preferred” qualifications. If you meet the requirements and a good portion of the preferences, go for it! Don’t disqualify yourself unnecessarily. Companies understand that finding the perfect unicorn candidate is rare and they are often open to bringing someone on board that is excited to grow and learn new skills.

    While the urge to mass-apply to every job board is understandable, this strategy can be counterproductive. Submitting a generic resume to multiple unrelated positions demonstrates a lack of focus and genuine interest in any specific role.

    The people in charge of reviewing your resume notice when it seems randomly submitted. By applying for positions that are clearly not a fit, you run the risk that you will not be considered for any roles, even the ones that you are well-suited for in the future.

Smart Strategies for Increasing Your Chances
  • Tailor your resume (honestly!): Take the time to adjust your resume to highlight the skills and experience the job description emphasizes. If you have relevant experience that isn’t explicitly stated on your current resume, make sure you add it before you submit!
  • Use job-matching tools: Did you know that there are free tools that can help you determine your fit for a position? Some of our favorites are:
    • Jobscan: Compares your resume to job descriptions for keyword matching and optimization.
    • Skillsyncer: Analyzes your skills against job descriptions to highlight your fit.
    • LinkedIn Job Postings: While not an in-depth tool, LinkedIn Job Postings will quite often indicate your match percentage with the position.

    The Bottom Line? Applying for jobs should be a strategic process. Put your best foot forward by submitting your application to the right jobs for your skillset. By tailoring your resume and focusing on the right openings, you increase your odds of landing your dream job!

    Looking for help from a trusted advisor? The Squires Group has been helping candidates land their next role for nearly 30 years! Let us know how we can assist you on your journey.

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