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If you, like thousands of other professionals, are considering looking for new career opportunities in IT this year, then it's worth shoring up your job application skills. At first glance, this may seem silly—isn't applying for a job easy enough? But the fact of the matter is that countless job applicants make very basic mistakes that effectively disqualify them from consideration for the position. You may be an extremely qualified candidate, but if your application is sloppy or error-plagued, the hiring manager is not going to put too much stock in your abilities. Just as importantly, a suboptimal application is far more likely to be overlooked. To stand out, your job application must be as polished and well-designed as possible.
Here are three tips you should follow to improve your job application, and therefore your chances of landing your dream job.
1. Follow the directions to the letter
This is obviously a very simple tip, but it is also one which many job applicants fail to abide by. While there are many standard aspects to these processes, every job application is a little different, and you need to pay attention to abide by the unique directions.
Industry expert Susan P. Joyce recently emphasized this point for The Huffington Post. She noted that some job listings ask applicants to include, or exclude, particular information. Failure to follow these instructions will seriously damage your chances of impressing the hiring manager.
To highlight this point, Joyce reported that one technology company asks applicants to offer their favorite joke as part of their submission. Not only does this help the hiring manager to gauge applicants' personalities, but it also is a quick, easy way to determine whether the individuals read the job listing carefully or not. Failure to include a joke suggests that the applicants may not pay enough attention to details, which certainly will not help their chances of landing these IT jobs.
2. Pay attention to your introductory email
Furthermore, it's critical that you pay close attention to your introductory email, assuming that the job listing requires one. As Joyce asserted, unless the posting suggests otherwise, this email should also serve as your cover letter, and it is a mistake to offer an essentially blank email with a cover letter attached.
Joyce emphasized the need to use these messages to demonstrate your ability to communicate effectively. If you use poor grammar or make spelling mistakes, you will reveal a sloppiness that most employers will avoid. Beyond that, Joyce argued that you need to ensure these messages are brief and clear. If you ramble or use awkward language, you will undermine your candidacy for the position.
3. Customize your cover letter
In addition to paying attention to the writing quality of your cover letter and/or introductory email, it is also imperative that you make sure that these communications are customized to to match the particular job listing, as BusinessNewsDaily contributor Nicole Fallon emphasized. Far too frequently, IT professionals take the time to modify their resumes to suit a specific position, but leave their cover letters generic and bland. This, according to Fallon, is a mistake.
"Instead of a template-style cover letter, use industry-specific language that references points from the job description and company website, if applicable," she recommended.
Additionally, the writer spoke to Christa Shapiro, regional vice president of a staffing firm, who stated that cover letters should highlight why you want this specific job, rather than simply a job.