Well, job hunting isn’t easy and Warren Buffett, you are a bazillionaire. How much is a bazillion dollars? Ten times more than a zillion.
Although, I have to give Mr. Buffett some credit. He did start working at the ripe old age of 11. As a child Buffett would go door to door selling chewing gum his grandfather sold to him. That’s a life lesson right there. When your grandpa won’t even give you free gum to help you turn an even larger profit you know you’re in for a lifetime of work. Earning a living is hard, and it starts one dollar at a time. Finding a way to earn a living is hard, and it starts one application at a time.
That’s not to say there aren’t ways to streamline the job application process. The other day I was working through the tedious process of filling out an online application and was reminded of how much longer it would be taking if I hadn’t found my own shortcuts. I still have to put in the leg work to fill out the application, but it helps to have my information handy in a word processing document since applications tend ask the same basic information.
Vanna, if you please . . . just don’t let our algebra teacher see my cheat sheet.
1. Work history. I have all of my previous jobs listed from current to oldest with the following information:
- Company Name
- Phone Number
- Employment dates listed with month and year; these will be listed on your resume but it’s just as easy to have your information in one spot
- Salary information, especially if you received any pay increases during your time at a company. It’s a good way to signal an employer was happy with your work.
2. Job duties. For each job I have held I have one sentence that hits the highlights of what I did in that position. For example, “On a daily basis I handled the office’s customer service needs, as well as processed claims and various paperwork.” You can also go with a bulleted list on this one. The main thing is to hit the key components since most applications don’t give you a lot space.
3. Reasons for leaving. This one is unavoidable but also important.
- Keep it classy. I have seen everything from, “They weren’t going to hire me full time fast enough.” to “I didn’t get along with my boss.” on applications. These types of statements won’t win you admiration for working in such horrid conditions.
- Keep it honest. If you were fired there’s not point in saying otherwise. Sooner or later everyone’s bill comes to. Even if a future employer doesn’t call your boss to hear him or her sing your praises, they will at least call to confirm employment dates and rehire statuses. A simple, “I was let go.” or “I was downsized.” will fill the need on your application. You can explain in further detail when it comes time for the interview.
- Keep it positive. This ties into Point A. Even if you hated your job and would’ve trampled your own mother to get out of there, leaving your job needs to be framed as a positive career move. Since there isn’t a lot of space to write flowing prose a simple statement such as, “I was looking for opportunities in the human resources field beyond the realm of retail.” will work.
4. School information. Do I remember where I went to high school? Yes. Do I know what street it’s located on? No. I know Google is a great and fast tool but when you’ve been filling out tons of applications looking up even basic information becomes tiresome.
5. Optional skills. Some applications will ask for any relevant coursework, certifications, or trainings you have had that will be an asset to the company. It’s not a bad idea to have this information handy. For example, “I have taken collegiate courses in human resources, marketing, and advertising.”
6. Reference information. Have the names, phone numbers, work addresses, and job titles of your references handy AND preapproved. Do not list someone as a reference before asking for their okay, even if you’re 100% sure they will say yes. Doing so shows a lack of respect to the people who will have your back. I have been called for a reference check on someone who didn’t warn me I was a reference. I still gave positive feedback, but I was also perturbed.
If you come across an application for a great job that’s due tomorrow and you don’t have references lined up, call the people to see if it’s okay to list them. If they won’t answer their phone, start looking for other professional contacts you can get ahold of.
Once you have a person’s approval, it is okay to list them repeatedly. However, as a courtesy, it would be a good idea to check in with them every few months to still see if it’s okay to list them, if their contact information is still correct, or to give them a heads up you’re looking again.
I hope your list will help make the application process a little easier. Isn’t it nice to be at a point in life where you can’t flunk out if you have a cheat sheet to help you with your work?
Positive Thought of the Day:
“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” – Lao Tzu