So before you rush right through your application and dismiss its potential importance as a screening tool, remember these basics:
• Read the whole application before you begin. There may be special instructions and fine print that will save you time, effort, or embarrassment.
• Prepare ahead to collect the details about your past employment, education, and references before you begin. Download or print a sample application to use as a draft.
• Don’t leave any items blank. Use “N/A” (Not Applicable) or “None” as appropriate to show you haven’t skipped or ignored the item.
• Leave no gaps in employment history. It’s very easy to see if you have been out of work for a significant amount of time. To prevent employers from drawing wrong conclusions, say what you were doing (going to school, freelancing, consulting, raising a family).
• Put care into writing your previous job duties. Even if your space is limited, you must still be effective. Begin sentences with action verbs, use past tense, and state accomplishments. Don’t just say: see resume.
• Use keywords. Whether it will be read by a computer or human, keywords will get your application noticed. The job vacancy announcement is the perfect place to find out which ones matter.
• Double-check your work. Although there are many electronic tools for spell-checking and finding grammar errors, some things won’t be picked up. Print your application, proof-read it, and ask two other people to proof-read it too.
How much time and effort do you think one should put into completing a job application versus a resume?