How To Apply For a Job In 6 Steps (With Tips)
Updated 10 March 2023
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Your job application package is usually the first way you can present yourself to a potential employer. This package may contain a resume, cover letter and job application. Learning how to apply for jobs effectively can help you make a positive first impression and it may increase your chances of getting an interview for a new role. In this article, we define what a job application is, discuss how to apply for a job and offer some tips to help you succeed when applying for a new role.
Related: How To Get the Job You Want
What is a job application?
A job application is a form that records your factual education, contact information and professional experience for a prospective employer. Recruiters and hiring managers may review this information to determine if you are right for a role. It can also help them contact you easily if they decide to offer you an interview.
Companies can use different types of job application forms. You may find when you go to the careers page of the company's website to apply for a job, they may ask you to create an account and fill in a digital application form. Some companies ask you to fill out a paper application form when you go to their office for the interview. When completing your application, you may need to submit your resume, references and cover letter too. A job application is a legally defendable document, which means it's important to include accurate information.
Related: What Is A Job Application Form? And How To Fill One Out
How to apply for a job
When applying for a new job, consider following these steps:
1. Search for jobs in your field
When you look for jobs, consider searching for a variety of roles in your field. The internet is the most popular way to search for jobs, and websites like Indeed can make it easier to connect with employers who are looking for your skills and experience. Consider making a list of different job titles you are interested in to help you find openings.
It's common to apply for several roles at once, to help increase your chances of getting an interview. As you search, consider which roles you want to apply for by reviewing your personal interests, qualifications and expectations. You may create a list of open roles that match your personal preferences.
Related: Finding a Job
2. Research companies with openings
While conducting your search, take time to research each company you are considering applying to. This can help you determine whether it's the right work environment for you and your goals. You can start your research by visiting the company's website. You may also look for any trending news, current events or reviews about the company during your search. Many companies also have professional social media pages. Consider reviewing these to learn more about a business's culture and brand.
3. Prepare your resume
To prepare your resume for the job application process, make sure it is up to date and customised according to the job you are applying for. First, to make your resume up-to-date, add your most recent education, skills, certifications and experience. Write all details in chronological order by keeping your most current education and experience at the top of the relevant section.
After adding your most recent details, you can customise your resume by editing it based on the initial job posting. Review the job description to see what skills and qualifications the employer is looking for. You can highlight your relevant skills using these keywords to help increase the chances of getting your job application noticed. When you complete your resume, proofread it for any grammatical or other errors. Also, consider having someone else review it as well to ensure it's accurate.
Related: 10 Resume Writing Tips To Help You Land a Job
4. Decide if you need a cover letter
A cover letter may be optional for some positions. Occasionally, a job posting will state that you should send a cover letter with your application. If this is the case, make sure to include one. Other times, you might decide to include an optional cover letter to describe your skills and experiences in more detail. For example, if you are a recent graduate or you are changing careers, a cover letter can help you describe your relevant skills in more detail than your resume shows.
If you are including a cover letter, make sure that it introduces you well and expands on the details in your resume or adds a new point. You might explain why you are a good fit for the company, describe an interesting story that highlights your most relevant skills or describe your background in more detail.
Related: Writing a Cover Letter: Tips and Examples
5. Submit your resume and online application
Once you prepare your resume and cover letter, you may need to fill an online application form as well. Typically, you may find this form on the employer's website or in the initial job posting. You may complete the online form and attach your documents, such as a cover letter and resume. It is best to avoid copy and pasting details from your resume into the online application form as this can create formatting issues. You should answer every question carefully and tailor your answer to meet the company's requirements.
6. Follow-up if needed
Depending on the role and company, a hiring manager might receive many applications for one position. This means they typically need some time to carefully review your documents. Try to wait at least two weeks before you reach out to the hiring manager for the status of your application.
If it's been over two weeks, you can check for the status by sending a follow-up email if you have the hiring manager's email address. You may also check the company's website to find some information on how to get the status of your job application.
Related: How To Write a Job Application Letter: Sample Included
Tips for job applicants
Here are some tips you can follow when preparing to apply for a new role:
Connect with current employees
When researching new roles, consider connecting with employees who work at the company you are applying to. This can help you learn more about the overall culture and community. You can search for the employees of the company working in the same role via various digital platforms. You may also search in your network to find someone working in the same company.
Review your social media
Hiring managers may check your social media profiles before offering you an interview. This helps them learn more about you and whether you are a good fit for the company. Consider reviewing your privacy settings and your online content to ensure anything visible to the public is appropriately professional.
Consider locating hiring managers online
You may locate your hiring managers of the company where you have applied for the job, through business, social media sites and professional networks. This can help you personalise your communications. For example, if you learn the hiring manager's name, you can use this in your cover letter or email to help personalise your document, which may make it stand out more to your prospective employer.
Review and improve your applications
Consdier reviewing your application materials throughout the applying process. This can help you refine and improve your documents over time. You may also focus your search over time as you learn more about the field and what hiring managers are looking for. Review your documents carefully to ensure you highlight your most relevant skills and experience.
Finding the right role for you can take time. Try to stay patient and keep applying for different jobs during this process. You may review your short-term and long-term goals to help you stay motivated. For example, you might set objectives to apply to a certain number of roles each week. This can help you stay focused and determined throughout the process.
Make a system to track your applications
When applying to multiple jobs, there can be a lot of different information to remember. For example, you might want to remember when you applied to each role so you can determine when to send a follow-up email.
Consdier creating a spreadsheet to help you store relevant data. You may update it when applying by inputting the company's names, contact details, the status of your application, dates and action required from your side. You may also track the details you hear back from the employer, such as an opportunity to interview.
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