Resumes & Cover Letters

Everything You Need to Know About Job Application

January 27, 2021

When applying for an open job post, three documents come in handy: a job application form, a cover letter and a resume. With a professionally written resume and cover letter as well a correctly filled out application form, you stand a better chance of being shortlisted and even pre-screened for an interview. In this article, we explore a typical job application process, types of job applications and tips for writing a professional job application letter.

Job Application Process

The job application process is the time you begin to question yourself about what to include in a cover letter, resume or job application; how many interviews you should be expecting; and the number of interviewers likely to sit on each panel. If you know how the job application works, it becomes a lot easier to deal with any possible anxiety and the waiting involved.

Here is a step-by-step guide to the job application process:

  1. Get your resume ready. In addition to a job application, most companies require a candidate to submit a resume and a cover letter. You must ensure that your resume is polished, up to date and well organised before you submit it with a job application. Also, remember to personalise your resume for every job application so that it perfectly matches the job you are applying for.
  2. Write a cover letter. A cover letter generally explains the relevance of your experience and skills for a particular job. It is often an essential requirement in the application process. Even when it is optional, you should include it anyway as that is the best way to make your pitch for an interview. Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the specific job listing.
  3. Submit your job application. You can apply for a post in person, via email or online. Companies will always give directions on how to apply for their vacancies, so keep the specific company guidelines in mind when filling out the application.
  4. Screening of job application. Once applications are closed, employers often use applicant tracking software to recruit, screen, track, hire and manage applicants. They do this to determine which candidate is ideal for the open position. The software usually matches up the requirement for the job with the information in the applications submitted.
  5. Employment tests. Many organisations tend to use selection procedures, such as pre-employment tests, to screen applicants. The selection procedures and tests often include background checks, credit checks, medical examinations, personality tests, cognitive tests and talent assessment tests. Although some of these tests are conducted as part of the application process, others occur during the hiring process — sometimes even after an interview.
  6. The process of interview. Upon being shortlisted for an interview, you may receive an invitation to talk to the employer, hiring manager or recruiter in person or on the phone, or both. Bear in mind that the company may conduct numerous interviews before it eventually offers the leading candidate the job. While some interviews occur in small groups, others are one-on-one.
  7. Hiring process. You will have to undergo a series of steps as you progress through the hiring process. The process normally begins when you submit your application and ends when you accept the job offer. It would be best if you familiarise yourself with each step in the hiring process. Likewise, as an applicant, you should try to research what follows after the interview.
  8. Job offer. You are close to the end of the hiring process when you receive a job offer. Once you receive the offer, you should not hastily accept the job. Take time to evaluate the offer carefully, which should help you make an informed decision on whether to negotiate, decline or accept the offer.
  9. Paperwork for a new hire. Now that you have taken the offer, complete the new-hire paperwork as soon as possible to enable you to get on the payroll. These documents may include eligibility for company-specific paperwork, tax withholding forms and work forms. An understated but helpful tip: enquire about the information your employer needs so you can have your materials ready on the go.

Types of job applications

How you apply for a job solely depends on the employer. In various instances, an employer may ask applicants to submit their resumes and cover letters online. If that is the requirement, then an applicant does not have to fill a digital application form.

Despite digital job applications becoming increasingly common, some employers still use other forms of a job application. Below are the types of job applications currently in use:

  • Paper job applications. When using this method, you will need to fill out some paper job application forms. In this case, you can either receive a paper job application from your prospective employer or print it out from an online source. Once you are through with filling it out , you can then scan and email the application form to the employer or recruiter. Sometimes you may even have to mail your application via a courier or the post office.
  • Email job applications. Applying for a job via email is a formal process, so ensure you communicate professionally. Your application should exhibit every bit of professionalism as would a paper application. For this type of application, an employer is likely to post a set form on their website. This way, you can fill out the set form and forward it as an attachment alongside your cover letter and resume.
  • In-person applications. This method is common among those applying for hospitality and retail positions. Managers in such industries expect potential employees to apply at a kiosk in the business or apply in person. Although this process is generally less complicated, a candidate still needs to be prepared to apply and maybe take an interview minutes after submitting their application.
  • Online job applications. Currently, there are numerous job sites where you can complete a job application and post your resume online. You may also consider applying online on job search engines, such as Indeed.com. Other times, you may have to apply directly on the company website.

Note that when making a digital application, you will — in many cases — be required to input your data directly in the company's system. In such a scenario, you will most likely be provided with the option to attach copies of your cover letter and resume.

Tips for writing a job application letter

Here are a few vital tips to remember when writing a job application letter:

Decide whether to send an email or hard copy

There are minimal differences between these two. But whichever process you adopt, be sure to include the needed information at the appropriate spot. When formatting an email application letter, you need to add a subject line, which will outline your purpose for writing.

Another difference is that when writing a hard copy, your contact information would be right at the top of the page. In contrast, an email application requires that you include your contact information just below your signature.

Follow business letter format

Use the business letter format when writing your cover letter. A typed copy, for instance, should have a lead paragraph that contains your address, the date and the address of the recipient — in that order. The address and date sections are not necessary if you are sending an email application.

Carefully Proofread your application letter

Employers receive a lot of applications, so they tend to overlook applications with glaring errors. To ensure your application gets the recruiter's attention, always take the time to carefully proofread your cover letter before submitting it. If there is time, consider asking a career counsellor or your friend to check the letter for spelling and grammar errors. It is also important you spell the company and recipient's name correctly.

Be professional in your writing

Application letters usually have fairly rigid formats. When reading your letter, a hiring manager will expect to see specific pieces of information included in set areas. Although you are free to make the structure personable, you should try to stick to a certain level of formality. For instance, you should strive to be very professional in your salutation. It is not right to refer to the recipient by their first name unless it is a specified requirement.

Tailor the application letter to the job

A cover letter is an opportunity to emphasise the reasons you believe you are the ideal candidate for the vacancy. So, to stress your suitability, you should personalise each letter to fit the position and the company. The first step in your cover letter customisation is to match your qualifications to the job posting, which you can streamline by highlighting the requirements, experience and skills listed in the description.

Employers usually require job applicants to fill out a job application form and submit it alongside a cover letter and resume before they can arrange for an in-person interview. By understanding the significance of these forms and even knowing how to go about the entire process of hiring, you can make a great job application submission and position yourself better in the hiring process. Hone your skills and be ready for your next interview.

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