The art of a great job application

As I mentioned before I often get the inquiry from people in my network, former colleagues and friends, to help them out with their job applications. Most often I hear my advice is greatly appreciated because of my experience of discussing recruitment profiles with multiple companies but also because I’ve worked with researching, analysing and advising clients upon what actions will gain them the most qualitative talent stream of applications. But the other day I heard something which made me smile; Because I am a peoples person and have the ability to ‘see patterns’ outside of the box of my analysis framework.

Unfortunately there is no one recipe. There are trends which have better conversion rates and greater impact on certain job roles and industries naturally. But aside that, in every career discussion there is a unique individual with his own professional story and a job opportunity with a checklist of important demands. Any job opportunity could end up being filled with someone completely different than the employer previously thought would fit the bill. It is far from always the candidate checking every single box on the wish list beats the candidate which doesn’t. Partly this is because it is very seldom there even is a candidate who checks everything on the wish list. In fact, the check list is a dream. A utopia if you will. And rarely this person exists at all.

Understanding this to begin with will give you the right focus when you’re going to apply for that opportunity you just can’t afford to miss out on; That you won’t compete with a lot of people with all those things they look for and you’re the only one missing out on some important criteria. Most often no one of the candidates meet every criteria.

That’s why the most important thing to understand in order to land a great application and raise the chance of end up as the winner is: 80% is about you selling yourself the right way. Tell them your story. Make them fall in love with you. Make them want to work with you. Make them want to have coffee with you. Make them feel you would be an invaluable asset to the company.

Many in the industry point out that recruitment is moving away from emotional decision making into rational, letting smart match making engines make the verdict of whom are going to be selected for interviews or even who should get the job. Make no mistake. this is absolutely true. This is a hot topic which I’ve also had seminars around myself. However, having pointed out what I said initially, most people coming to interviews doesn’t meet all criteria. No match making engine or AI can change the availability or job interest with candidates. Therefore my statement remains. 80% of you getting your job is about you selling yourself.

Never underestimate the importance of your story.

Do this first thing and you’re on your way. Then there are a few other things I recommend you doing also if to truly send in a rocking job application.

Honesty first. Who are they looking for? Is it you? Do you possess some of the important attributes and skills the land demands? Could you see yourself do this job and is it something you would be good at/enjoy doing? This first step is very important even if it sounds basic. If you don’t ‘feel something’ then you will find it much harder if not impossible to put together a believable job application.

Challenge yourself. Even if something is not entirely certain having regarded the job opportunity e.g. you lacking some important skills or experience which the job demands but you really desiring the possibility to land the job – Don’t give up. Think yourself through: Which other skills do you possess which would help you do this job? What else do you know which would be valuable in this job?

Analyse the job ad. Mark every word which the employer mentions as important for the opportunity. Ask yourself what you have done and achieved that would argue you are the person they are looking for. See to that you express these explanations and examples in your application. Many recruiters look for the exact things they expressed in the job application and if an application can show many of those criteria, they will have a stronger likeliness to get an interview.

Research the employer. Head in to LinkedIn and make a search for employees within the employer. Read their profiles and see what they work with. Look at those with the same job title as the one you’re about to apply for. Look at how they present themselves. If you are connected to someone in the company, reach out and ask about their recommendations of things to focus on in your particular case. Ask them about the manager your potential future job role is reporting to. Ask what that manager appreciates and if there are particular things in his team they lack but don’t talk openly about. If you don’t have a 1st connection at the employer, find someone in your network who has the connection and work yourself into a connection within the company – then go through the questions mentioned. Also, call the person who has the role today if there is someone. Ask this person what he or she believes is needed in order to land the job.

Introduce yourself. This is also a basic thing but makes an impact. Call the recruiter and introduce yourself. Keep it simple and short. Express the reason why you decided to apply and why you think you would be a great hire. Ask the recruiter what the process looks like and when you’re going to hear something. Magic trick: Mention the manager the role reports to by name and highlight yourself in a positive way. Example: “I am very inspired by Pauls work. I hear a lot of good things from his team and I want to be a part of it. I know I would help him with <Enter potential information of a lack in his team> since I have vast experience within <Your Sales argument>. Rest assured, if you do this properly, the recruiter is going to tell this to the manager and directly this manager will become interested in who you are. Check your LinkedIn profiles the coming week. When/If someone with a suitable title checks your profile, reach out to that person with an InMail saying: “Hi Paul. I am glad you checked my profile. I am very excited about the chance to meet you. Have a great day and hope to meet soon.”

The sentence above is obviously not everyones style. It has to be genuine and personal. My point is: Take command of your attraction. This is all part of it, making the employer notice you, remember you and becoming intrigued by you.

Everything is a fine balance. You want to be interested, not pushy. You want to be excited and passionate, not indiscrete. No step mentioned above is a must. Everything depends on your own personality and the level of connection you get with the recruiter and people in the company. But following the pointers above and keeping it decent will definitely not decrease your chances of getting the job. Rather the contrary.

Remember that the old style of thinking is to place your written application and then hope for the best. It is your way of approaching the employer, the people within it and your professional story surrounding your application which is going to help you kill it.

In the end, the one employing you is a person as well. With ambitions, challenges and worries. Being the person who will still those worries and provide answers to the challenges will get attention. It’s just the way it is. The trick is to approach it as fast and intimate as the receiver is comfortable with.

During the interviews if they come relevant. Never forget the most important thing: You already passed the first stage. Don’t just repeat the same thing you did in your application. Sell yourself. Be humble but show there is a reason you are there. Believe in yourself. And the most important of all: Make them like you. Make them want to have coffee with you.

In the end, they will hire a person. And that person is not surprisingly most often the one they approve of the most.

Be that person.

Thanks for reading,

Daniel Sonesson