AApplying for a new job can come with a solid side of stress, especially in the midst of the pandemic, which has changed the way many people work and, as a result, go through interviews. For example, do you need to dress for a Zoom interview? And what about thank you notes? Should we write them by hand? And if so, where do you send them if the hiring manager is working remotely rather than in the office? The number of questions about the interview process itself can cause a candidate to be concerned about the very job they are applying for.
That said, of course, it’s crucial to impress the people you interact with during the application process. “This is the first interaction you have with a potential employer, and your attention to detail when it comes to the interview process reflects how you will work in the job you are applying for,” explains the career expert. Nicole Williams, Founder and CEO of works by Nicole Williams.
âYour attention to detail in the interview process reflects how you will work in the job you are applying for. ââNicole Williams, Career Expert
And since the standards for best practices for applying for a job are constantly changing, consulting your friends and family who have been in the same job forever may not be the most helpful. So what can you do? A useful strategy is to familiarize yourself with the latest best practices for applying for a job. Experts say many of these best practices have changed slightly over the years, although some, like bringing a hard copy of your resume to the interview (if it’s an in-person interview), still apply.
âYou’re trying to establish a level of trust and credibility that they really want you,â says career coach JT O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work it daily, an online career development center. “There are all these little places in the process where you can show how reliable and consistent you are to give them the reassurance that you are the right fit.”
Read on for an expert-approved analysis of five of the new best practices for applying for a job.
1. Old rule: handwrite a thank you note
New rule: send an email
Sending a thank you note in the mail was the way to go, but O’Donnell says it’s not really necessary right now. In fact, she says it might put you in a disadvantage, since it may take several days for your handwritten note to arrive in the mail, and during that time the hiring manager might think you aren’t going to send any at all. Plus, since the pandemic has normalized flexible workplaces, the hiring manager may not even be in the office to receive a handwritten note upon arrival.
O’Donnell’s suggestion? If you have an interview in the morning, send the thank you email before the afternoon. If your interview took place in the afternoon, make sure it gets sent out early the next day.
âYou wouldn’t be expected to write an epic novel or a recap of why you’re awesome,â says O’Donnell. Instead, she recommends thanking the interviewer for their time, telling them that you enjoyed meeting them, and adding that you look forward to the next steps in the process.
2. Old rule: list your experience in a cover letter
New rule: grab their attention with a cover letter
Cover letters can be tricky. What to put them? Does anyone even read them? In the past, people would suggest that you list the reasons why you should be hired, but O’Donnell says the logic has changed. Instead, she now suggests writing a “disruptive” cover letter. âYou don’t recap your resume, you tell them ‘this is why I care about your business and I admire what you do,’â she says. âA cover letter is an opportunity to give flavor to your application. “
O’Donnell suggests explaining why you feel connected to the company and why you feel drawn to the job. Once you’ve established why you’re interested in the business, Williams says you can explain why you’re the perfect fit. “Does it take a little while?” Yes, but how badly do you want this job? O’Donnell said.
3. Old rule: keep your CV on one page
New rule: make sure your CV is easy to navigate
You can stop squinting at your resume, trying to determine if your size 8 font is readable, as experts say it’s fine if the document is longer than a page. The goal of the one-page resume rule “is to force you to succinctly describe your experiences in an easy-to-read format,” says Williams. But, she adds, “it’s okay if it continues over two pages.” (Three might push him, though, she said.)
O’Donnell says it’s “far more important” that it’s readable, noting that recruiters tend to skim through CVs quickly. âI’d much rather see a two-page resume because you used one-inch margins,â instead of trying to put everything in there, she says. Keep it simple, adds O’Donnell: âJust facts – no fancy text, no long paragraphs. “
4. Old rule: dress for an interview
New rule: adapt your outfit to the culture of the company
If the company you’re applying for is known for their flip flops and sweatshirts culture, you don’t want to show up in a suit, but you also don’t want to dress exactly like the employees. âThey won the right to enter with thongs and sweatpants,â says O’Donnell.
Still, Williams says, âyou want to look out of place. It is an indicator that you are adapting to the culture of the company. O’Donnell’s tip: Check how employees dress by checking the company’s website or social media accounts. Then, she says, “dress a little better than you expect, that’s a sign of respect.”
5. Old rule: cover tattoos
New rule: find the company first
âThe problem with tattoos is that some people agree with them and some don’t, and it’s hard to gauge who’s who,â Williams said. Tattoos are generally the norm in creative or tech-oriented offices, she says, but “in more traditional industries they are frowned upon.”
O’Donnell recommends doing your homework first to see how employees dress and getting inspiration from there. âIf this is clearly business attire, I would put on sleeves,â she said. O’Donnell doesn’t recommend changing who you are, but, she says, “if it seems like the business is more button-down, just tone it down.” And, of course, if you feel like you don’t want to work somewhere that would require you to hide your ink, that’s fine, too. âI’ve worked with a few clients who feel like their tattoos are part of them and they don’t want to work for a company where they have to hide them, in which case you can expose them,â says Williams. .
After all, perhaps the most important of all best practices when it comes to applying for a job is to remember that this is a two-way street.
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