Preparing for Success: Essential Steps Before Applying for a Job

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Applying for a job is an exciting and nerve-racking time that, depending on your situation, can be an open book of possibilities or a desperate search to support a family. In the past, applying for a job involved going to an office in person and picking up an application you would return later.

This allowed people to meet the supervisor, get their foot in the door, and tended to limit the total number of applicants. Today, all that has changed.

If you log onto Indeed.com, you can apply for a supermarket cashier job thousands of miles away or offer your services as a pet groomer in a neighboring state. You won’t meet the supervisor, and there can easily be thousands of applicants.

This may sound awful. But it also opens up the potential to apply anywhere you like. So how can you stick out? What chance do you have when going against 100 other candidates?

By following these guidelines, you’ll be better equipped to present yourself as a strong candidate and set the stage for a successful career.

Identify Your Interests and Skills 

Before you begin your job search, you should do the following:

  • Take the time to identify your interests and skills.
  • Reflect on your passions, hobbies, and activities that bring you joy.
  • Consider your strengths and areas where you excel.

Understanding what you enjoy and are good at will more closely align your career aspirations with potential job openings. An honest self-assessment can guide you toward fields or industries where you would thrive, and increase your chance of landing fulfilling employment.

Be Realistic and Honest

Once you know what kind of job you are interested in, set some rules you will follow as you enter the research process. Sure, becoming the CEO of a big firm may sound great, but if you are fresh out of high school or college, applying for a job that requires years of experience isn’t worth the effort. 

On the other hand, recognize your value. If you’re a welder with experience and have made $35 an hour, don’t apply for jobs that pay $15. If you set this standard beforehand, you are less likely to make an impulsive decision you may regret.

By being honest and setting parameters, you can be confident about applying for the right positions. 

Research and Explore Career Paths 

The next step is to explore various career paths. Take advantage of online resources, such as career sites and online reviews.

Learn about the education, skills, and experience required for each field. Investigate the job market demand and growth potential in your desired industry. Exploring various career paths will open possibilities and may even make you aware of jobs you didn’t know existed.

While you’re doing research, look at specific companies and their websites. A firm without a website, or a poorly formatted website, could be a red flag.

On the flip side, a website that has employee testimonials, awards, online reviews, and a page that explains benefits and expectations, and shows the team, is encouraging. A good example of how this looks is on Cetaris’s website. This company leaves little doubt that it cares for employees and is confident in its brand. 

Develop Your Skills and Experience

Honing your skills and gaining relevant experience are essential to stand out from other job applicants. If you are entering the workforce, think about internships, part-time jobs, volunteer work, or even freelancing opportunities that align with your career interests.

These experiences will furnish practical knowledge and demonstrate your commitment and dedication to prospective employers. 

In addition, seek opportunities to improve your skills through online courses, workshops, or certifications. Developing a well-rounded skill set will make you a more competitive candidate in the job market.

Craft a Winning Resume and Cover Letter

Your resume and cover letter create your first impression on the part of potential employers. Take the time to tailor these documents to highlight your relevant skills and experiences. 

Communicate your achievements, responsibilities, and any notable contributions you’ve made in the past. Keep your resume concise, easy to read, and error-free.

Write a cover letter. You may be surprised by how many people don’t do this. Even if one isn’t required, employers will sometimes look at only the applications that include one, because it’s a sign of commitment and desire from the applicant. 

Finally, you might seek feedback from mentors, teachers, or career advisors to ensure your application materials are well-polished and will make a strong impact.

Network and Seek Mentorship 

Networking is a valuable tool for finding job opportunities and gaining insights into the industry. Connect with professionals in your desired field through social media platforms like LinkedIn or by attending industry events.

Engage in conversations and seek mentors among individuals who can provide guidance and advice. Mentors can offer valuable insights, share their experiences, and open doors to job opportunities. 

Construction of professional relationships is an ongoing activity, so maintain your network after you’ve secured employment.