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Even after you submit a resume, potential employers often ask you to fill out an application. It’s a way of standardizing each candidate's information. To make things easier on yourself, consider creating a “master” application form -- you know, a document that contains all of the details of your professional career.
The first thing you need is a detailed employment history. Include the name, address and phone number of each employer, as well as the dates of employment and titles held during your tenure. And don’t forget to write a brief description of each position that sums up your main duties, responsibilities and accomplishments.
Add some information about your education. Include the name and state of each institution, as well as the degrees earned and areas of study. If this is your first job out of college, consider including the names of courses that may be applicable to positions you are seeking. If you've completed any advanced certifications, internships or fellowships, detail them as well.
Employers sometimes ask applicants to list a set of skills on an application, so spend some time thinking about what you bring to the table. Communication, planning and organization are all buzz words, but they do nothing to explain your abilities. Dig deeper and go into further detail. For example, maybe you’re best at expressing ideas, facilitating group discussions or persuading others. Maybe you’re a pro at forecasting numbers, identifying and solving problems or developing evaluation strategies. You may consider meeting deadlines, managing multiple projects or implementing improvements as part of your core competencies.
It isn’t uncommon for an application to have a section for your salary expectations, so do your homework. “Negotiable” won’t always cut it. If a job posting already lists the wage, you pretty much know what to expect. Otherwise, take the time to search for the average wage of similar positions in your area. Now, you can confidently ask for a salary that’s somewhat competitive.
Never forget to ask at least three people to serve as references before commencing your job search. Take down their names, job titles, phone numbers and email addresses of those who agree. You should also be able to define your relationship with each reference. Is she a former colleague or a current client? Are they previous bosses or direct reports?
Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.