If your job applications are receiving rejection after rejection, you’re not alone. I’ve heard a lot of frustration and even hopelessness from people applying for jobs because they are looking for a role more aligned with their career ambitions. Luckily, everything in careers is learnable. So you can learn how to write job applications that wow employers and lead to an interview. 

Give yourself the best chance of moving to a job you’ll be happier in by creating an application strategy. That’s right, you won’t get results if you have a scattergun approach to job applications where you apply for hundreds of jobs with the same CV at a rapid pace. Instead of throwing an application at whatever jobs you can find, take a more strategic approach. This will allow you to successfully highlight your compatibility and competency for jobs you’d thrive in. 

But why should you spend your time coming up with an application strategy when you could use that time to apply for more jobs?

Why Having an Application Strategy Matters

Not all applications are created equal. I’ve been on the other side of recruitment, trying to find the best candidates for my team and organisation. I could tell which applications were sent in desperation and which had a strategy behind them. Application strategy matters because it helps you to:

Maximise time

If you are going to spend time applying for jobs, you might as well submit the best possible applications. Instead of spending endless hours scrolling through Indeed, use that time to hone in on finding the best-fit jobs for you and effectively demonstrating your capabilities to recruiters. 

Maximise results

This isn’t a scenario where the more jobs you apply for, the more likely you are to get a job. The quality of job applications maximises your chances of finding a job far beyond the quantity of applications. Set yourself apart from other applicants to be ranked among the top candidates who get invited to interview. 

Stay motivated

Applying for jobs is a pretty unpredictable process. You could get an interview for the first or tenth job you apply for. There are so many factors involved in the decision-making process on the recruiter’s end. If you have a strategy to follow, you have something in your control that you can focus on. You have a system for success in place so you don’t fall into desperate panic applying. 

In the job market, all you can control is your application and performance at interview. Put your time and effort into improving those two things and you will find yourself with a job offer. Trust the process. 

How to Create an Effective Job Application Strategy 

A job application strategy that maximises your time and results while keeping you motivated hinges on three things: where you are looking for jobs, what jobs you are applying for and how you are tailoring your applications. This is what you need to know about all three. 

Where to find jobs

Effective use of job boards

It’s worth looking on popular job boards like Indeed for opportunities but don’t limit your search to popular sites. Some job opportunities will only be advertised on industry job websites or recruitment agency sites. Do some research into your industry to find more specific job boards to include in your search. If you can think of companies in your industry you’d love to work for, check out the careers page on their website to see what opportunities they have available.

Whatever job boards you are searching on, focus on keywords rather than job titles. Job titles aren’t always consistent from company to company. Or you may be quite open about your job role. Make a list of keywords that encapsulate what you’d like to do in your next job and use those words in search bars to find the best job opportunities. 

Openness to opportunities

As well as making it easier for you to find jobs, make it easier for recruiters to find you. Start by working on your LinkedIn profile, making it clear the kind of job you’re looking for and the strengths that will help you to succeed in such a role. That way recruiters and hiring managers searching LinkedIn will come across your profile. 

Don’t forget about the value of networking. Connect with people and let them know what you are looking for in your next job. You never know who they know. You can find networking groups operating in your local area and within your profession. 

What jobs to apply for

Instead of applying for any job you could do, be more intentional and apply for jobs you’d like to do. Of course you want to make sure you meet most of the job requirements but don’t forget about your personal criteria for your next job. What matters to you? I’ve found that sustainability is increasingly important to job applicants. What are you willing to compromise on? For example, you could be willing to relocate or take a pay cut for the perfect role. 

What do you want to see in the job description? Consider what will play to your strengths and so indicate that a job is a good fit. Also, consider what your no-gos are. If these show up in job ads, it’s not worth you applying because you know it’s not going to work out. Refer to your personal criteria before even thinking about applying for a job. Make sure it ticks enough boxes for you. 

If you have no idea what you are looking for and what you want from your career, you’ll find my free workbook ‘Where Is My Career Going?’ helpful. 

How you tailor your application

Tailor the content

While a generic CV and cover letter might seem more efficient and convenient, it’s probably not going to get you ranked as one of the top 5 candidates. Adapt a base CV to individual jobs to really stand out. Firstly, bring your CV up to standard. Make it a compelling read by using active words. Make sure it will get through an application tracking system by keeping the formatting simple and including keywords such as required qualifications and experience. 

Then you can tailor your CV, cover letter and application answers to reflect specific job descriptions. Start by identifying specific keywords and phrases in the individual job ad. Use their wording to demonstrate your capabilities and qualifications. Don’t forget to back this up with specific evidence and examples in order to prove you fulfil the job description. 

To really impress recruiters, research beyond what is shared in the job description and find out what really matters to the company you are applying to work at. If possible, demonstrate how you align with their company culture, values and anything else you have found in your research.

Tailor the layout

You can tailor your application by arranging it differently too. Your experience and qualifications don’t have to be in chronological order. List your most relevant experience and qualifications first so you start ticking boxes for the recruiter from the get-go. With that in mind, don’t forget to tailor the summary at the top of your CV to reflect what they are looking for.  

You can even mirror their priorities. Criteria that are higher up on the list in the job description are more important to them. Put them higher up on your application. Any experience that doesn’t directly relate to the job can be adapted. Identify the transferable skills and apply them to what you would be doing in the role you’re applying for. 

 

I’m not going to tell you that applying for jobs is a walk in the park. Who would that help? What I will say is that successfully finding a new job is possible. Take a strategic approach so you are making the most of your time, giving yourself the best chance of success and staying focused on what you can control.

If you would like personalised support with building your application strategy and improving the impression you give potential employers, I review  job applications in my career coaching sessions. The aim is to provide clarity on where you are going in your career and how to get there. Book a career coaching session here

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