7 Tips to Navigate the Employment Application
Just about every employment opportunity requires filling out an application. It is one of the first steps companies use in filtering out their candidate pool to narrow down their options. They don’t have time to interview everybody. It can be tricky to navigate the application, and if not done properly, can get you ruled out of an opportunity without ever being able to fully represent yourself to a company.
I personally review thousands of applications a year. Here are my tips to help you navigate the application to set yourself up for a successful interview whether or not you are interviewing with a recruiting firm to support a transition from military to business or applying directly to a company.
1. Applications are designed to rule you out. Companies will review an application first and foremost to identify anything that will disqualify you. Keep this in mind as you review the other points.
2. There is typically a specific section for asking questions that will rule you out. Typically it is about your goals regarding the type of position you want, salary requirements, and future objectives. It sometimes is about past experiences.
3. Take time to create the right first impression. I strongly encourage a JMO filling out any application to remember the effort placed in applying to their college or service academy where they were accepted. Place as much effort into corporate applications. Your application is a reflection of your attitude and you as a person.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. Ensure the application is accurate and complete – no misleading or false information. 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.
7. 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 in any way communicate this. 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.