Monday, November 8, 2010

Things to do (and not to do) when applying for a job

One of the things that I enjoy about my position is the ability to deal with the seemingly nebulous process of hiring. I am amazed, however, at the basic mistakes that candidates often make when hiring especially in an era of persistently high unemployment.

My posts are usually technical in nature but humor me (or even listen to me, or yell back at me) as I share simple tips that will make your job application more successful:

Should you even apply?

Please really read the entire posting. If you aren't authorized to work in the United States and the posting says that you must be authorized to work in the United States, please don't bother. If you are a business analyst and the posting is for a release engineer position, please don't bother. If you are not willing to relocate to Albany, NY and the posting says you must be willing to do so, please don't bother.

Make the cover letter count

If the application asks for a cover letter, include one. That doesn't mean copy it from Monster. No hiring manager wants to read the phrase 'After reading my resume I believe that you will find that my qualifications match the skills you are seeking for the quality assurance position'.  Be creative. Lastly, don't be sloppy and forget to change the company name.

Don't let your resume become scrap paper

Congratulations! You've carefully read the posting and you have an awesome cover letter. Before you send that resume print it out and grab a ruler. Make sure that headings, margins, bullet points, etc. line up and are consistent. No scholarly article has mismatched headings and neither should your resume. Do this after customizing your resume for the position you are applying for.

Do your homework for the interview

Novels have been written about effective interviewing. One part must have been left out, and that is the part about researching the company you are working for.

So, research, research, research! Know how the company you are applying for makes its money and what problem it is trying to solve. Have some well thought out questions as this demonstrates enthusiasm and interest. Research your interviewer if you know who it is. If I am the interviewer you should have found this blog post and read it. Doing your homework pays huge dividends.


I hope every technical post I write helps a developer out there save time or solve a problem, and this one is really no different. If I am way off base though definitely let me know though. Maybe its my application review process that is broken.

Shameless Plug

My employer, Apprenda, has open positions. Maybe you should apply for one!

Disclaimer: This posting does not represent the opinion of Apprenda.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Paul, very assertive advice that could be applied in any job seeking endeavor. Completely agree with you in terms of the indifference, perhaps ineptitude, that some applicants exhibit throughout the process. I'd just be cautious with the amount of "impression management" advised. Though it's of extreme importance that applicants demonstrate general knowledge about the company to which they apply, such knowledge per se should weight less than actual job-related expertise. Some may indeed resort in such an impressionistic tactic to balance out lack of relevant knowledge.