5 Tips for a JMO to Complete a Corporate Application and Avoid a Quick Rule Out

All companies recruiting for development positions, will require the candidate to complete an application.  Ask most people what the purpose of an application is and they will say, “To better get to know me,” or “To show them my accomplishments.”  The reality is that an application is used for a quick rule out.  Most recruiters and hiring managers will scan an application quickly, looking for an easy reason to rule out and narrow the pool of applicants. 

I see way too many Junior Military Officers take a casual approach to the application.  They make simple mistakes such as misspelling words, leaving sections blank, using lower case or upper case throughout the application, and failing to use proper punctuation.  At Cameron-Brooks, we review close to 2,000 applications a year from those wanting to be a part of our program, and we also advise candidates in our program on how to complete an application with our clients.  We know how to complete them to avoid the quick rule out.

Here are five application tips to help you put your best self forward and avoid the quick rule out:

  1. Put forth the effort. I strongly encourage a JMO filling out any application to remember the effort placed in applying to their college or service academy.  This was a four-year goal. Place as much effort into corporate applications. Your application is a reflection of your attitude and of you as a person.
  2. Put yourself into the role. When filling out an application, you are connecting your background with the company or position for which you are applying. You need to imagine yourself in the role when answering the questions. For example, the Cameron-Brooks application asks for hobbies. When filling out this portion, you would be wise to put those hobbies first that connect best to being a future business leader. Hobbies that I have seen recently that connect are reading, repairing cars (hands on and mechanical aptitude), investing, running marathons (competitive nature), volunteer leader for United Way Big Brothers (leadership and well-rounded). I think it’s good to list all of your hobbies, but list the most relevant first.
  3. Provide as much information as possible.  Fill out the spaces in full. Every question on an application has a purpose even if you do not understand the reason for the question. Therefore, answer the question and fill out as much as possible. For example, our application asks for high school and college activities, and we provide a large block for that answer. Quite frequently, I see just a few activities listed. Yet, when I ask the person if that’s all they did during that time, they then provide me with more information. The JMO candidate didn’t fill it out all the way, because they didn’t think I would have use for it. In reality, Cameron-Brooks client companies use the “whole person” concept to evaluate their future leaders so these answers are very valuable to us and our clients.
  4. Ensure the application is accurate and complete.  Inaccurate and incomplete applications will prevent you from reaching your desired goals. Yesterday, I ruled out a potentially high-caliber applicant for an inaccurate application. How can I be confident this person will not deliver an inaccurate report to a company? We need leaders of the highest integrity in business. Treat your application to a recruiter or headhunter with the same degree of seriousness as any report in the military. It will help you reach your goals.
  5. Proofread the application. I often see applications with misspelled and missing words. This indicates one of two things, neither of which you want to indicate on an application. One is lack of detail orientation. This goes back to the previous point. The second is lack of intellect. You don’t want to communicate this in any way. Companies want leaders who are smart.

Remember, applications are your critical first impression. Put forth the effort, put yourself in the role, provide as much information as possible, ensure the application is accurate and complete, and proofread the application. To learn more, refer to chapter two, “The Crucial First Impression,” of PCS to Corporate America, 4th Edition.

Joel Junker