This eight-step checklist will help you get ready to send in your job application. Taking the time to check and re-check your work before you submit your job application gives you the best chance of standing out.
1. Write your cover letter
A good cover letter is tailored for each job you apply for. You should try to find out the name of the employer or recruiter, and directly address them in the cover letter.
Your cover letter should show you’ve researched the employer. Your cover letter should also show how your skills and experience match those needed for the job.
2. Tailor your resume
Review your resume to make sure it highlights the skills and experience you need for the job.
Ideally, you will send a slightly different resume for each job application. For each job you apply for, put the most relevant skills and experience you have first.
3. Spellcheck and proofread
Use a spellchecker, and get someone you trust like a family member or teacher to check your job application for mistakes.
Making sure your application is free from errors shows that you take pride in your work. It also shows you have attention to detail.
4. Update your contact details
Make sure your contact details are updated and easy to find. Including your phone number and email address in the footer of all your documents can be a good thing to do.
Use a simple, professional-sounding email address for job applications, like firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can use automatic email forwarding to forward messages from this account to your everyday email account. Just explore your email provider’s preferences to set this up.
5. Use good filenames
Remember that recruiters get hundreds of applications. Make their lives easier by using filenames that are unique. Instead of sending a file called ‘resume.doc’, change the filename to include your surname and the position title.
It’s also a good idea to use underscores or another character like a dash instead of spaces in your filenames.
For example, if your name is Joanne Tint, and you’re going for a retail assistant job, you could call your resume file ‘tint_resume_retail_assistant.doc’.
Label each of your files clearly. If you’re asked to send other documents as well as a resume, make it clear from the filename what each document is. For example, for a portfolio you could use ‘tint_portfolio_graphic_designer.doc’.
6. Double-check you’ve followed instructions
Re-read the job advertisement and make a list of everything that it asks you to do.
Go through your checklist item by item and make sure you have done everything you have been asked to do.
Pay close attention to specific requests, like the file formats that the employer wants, and any other information they ask for. For example, if the employer only accepts Word documents do not send PDFs.
Go through this checklist again before you hit ‘send’.
7. Contact your referees
Contact your referees to make sure they know you have provided their details in your job application.
Tell your referees about the job you’re going for. This will help them be prepared to answer questions about you. You could also ask your referees to emphasise specific skills, experience or personal attributes that you think are important for the job.
8. Keep track of your applications
Keep track of your job applications. You can use a spreadsheet for this, or just a simple Word document. Our 14 tips for successful cold calling has some good tips on how to stay organised when you’re contacting lots of different employers.
You should also make sure you regularly check your voicemail and the email address you use for job applications.