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Artwork by: Alisa Frolova
To unlock new career opportunities and get invited to new job interviews, it’s important to send out many professional-looking job applications. Here’s the scoop on how to submit many job applications without sacrificing their individual quality.
Searching for a new job can be just as intense as working at a job, especially when you’re putting the right amount of effort into your job search. If you’re between careers or just searching for an alternative to your current daily grind, your chances of landing a nice new position dramatically increase the more applications you send out. At the same time, each application must be well-written, informative, and a good fit for the role you’re pursuing.
To strike the right balance between the number of jobs you apply to and the effort you put into your applications, it’s important you learn about the following topics:
How many job applications to send each day or week
Preparing resume templates in advance
Preparing cover letter templates in advance
Writing and saving answers to common application questions
Identifying job openings that fit your niche
Modifying application materials to fit the job
How many job applications should you complete and submit each day, week, or month? The rote answer to this question is as many as you can. The actual, practical answer to this question depends on a lot of factors.
If you’re currently employed at a full time or part time position, try to submit 10 to 15 job applications every week (two to three per day). Since you’re still busy with work, you probably won’t have the free time to send out more applications than that - not without the clarity and eloquence of each application suffering.
If you’re unemployed or on a temporary sabbatical from work, you’ll have the free time to submit 15-20 job applications each week (three to five or more per day). Ideally, you should treat this quota of job applications as a career in of itself, scheduling periods each weekday where you “clock in” and fill out job applications for a couple of hours.
Some entry-level job applications are relatively simple in form - upload a resume, upload a cover letter, answer a few questions, and click the submit button. Other job application forms will be more complex because the jobs themselves are more complex.
If you’re seeking employment in a management position, academia, the medical industry, or other similarly high-spec careers, don’t try to submit more than three job applications per day. Instead, spend that extra time revising your job applications, making sure they properly communicate your skills, experiences, and breadth of knowledge.
These rigorously scheduled job-hunts can have very real low points and even mentally stressful high points. Fortunately, there are a few tricks you can use to speed up the job application process without damaging the quality/clarity of each submission.
Many online job applications will ask you to upload a professional resume document (generally either in DOC or PDF form). Often, job-seekers will create one general purpose resume document and use it for all their future job applications. That said, if you want to reliably grab the attention of HR departments, every one of your applications should have a resume customized to fit the job you’re seeking.
Before you start filling out job applications in earnest, create/assemble a few different resume templates that you can modify as needed. Each submitted resume should have essential sections and layouts that let you clearly present information about a specific career or industry. For instance:
A resume for management positions should have an opening summary that talks about your leadership skills.
A resume for Information Technology positions should have a section describing your software or computer language proficiencies, plus a list of past IT projects you participated in.
A curriculum vitae for jobs in academia should list your educational credentials near the start and have sections that describe your past publications and presentations.
Once you’ve assembled these pre-written resume templates, make sure you regularly update them as you acquire new work experiences and credentials. Also try modifying these resumes on the fly with keywords from the online descriptions of jobs you apply to. This makes it more likely your resume will be tagged and accepted by the applicant tracking systems of a company’s database.
According to a recent report by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 38.7% of freshly unemployed individuals in the US get a new job within 5 weeks, while 32.9% of them remain unemployed for 15 weeks or more. With these current statistics, the average US worker who quits or loses their job will be unemployed for 5 months before getting a new job.
As with resumes, it’s a good idea to create a set of cover letter templates, each one containing boilerplate descriptions of skills and experiences related to the career you seek. Cover letters for content writing positions should discuss your creativity and revision skills, cover letters for retail positions should highlight your customer service philosophies, and so on.
Each cover letter you send should directly address a hiring manager or the company as a collective whole. Before uploading, make sure your cover letter has a perfect opening and your greeting doesn’t have these actual words: DEAR [INSERT NAME HERE].
Tweak the cover letter template you choose so that it mentions the company’s name and the job’s title. Finally, add a sentence or two that explains exactly how your skills and experience will help the company prosper.
Many online job application forms (on company websites or platforms on LinkedIn) ask job-seekers to answer a short list of questions with single paragraph responses. Sometimes these questions are formal, asking about your previous work experience, temperament, or personal philosophies. Other questions might be more casual and inquire about your personal life or hobbies.
Some common questions seen in online job application forms:
- How did you learn about this opening?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What do you feel is your biggest strength?
- What would you say is your biggest weakness?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- Are you comfortable working in a deadline-driven environment?
- Do you prefer working in a team or working alone?
- Describe a major accomplishment from one of your past careers.
- Describe a big mistake you made in one of your past careers.
- What is your ideal starting salary range?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
You can save a lot of time during job applications by creating pre-written answers to the questions listed above (three to five sentences, 25 words at minimum). Just copy the answers you write for a specific job application’s questions and save them in an electronic document on your computer. When you run across another fillable job application website page with similar questions, you can reuse key sentences from your previous answers.
When searching for a new career, be open to new opportunities and consider positions that aren’t quite the dream job you want to land. At the same time, don’t send applications to every random opening you find online. Only apply to a job if you truly, genuinely want it and think you have a chance of getting hired. Otherwise, you’re just wasting your time and the time of hiring managers.
Do apply to a job opening if
Don't apply to a job opening if
You have the educational background listed in the job requirements.
Your educational and work experience doesn’t match the job’s requirements.
You have the minimum years of career field experience listed in the job requirements.
The job’s terminology is confusing and unfamiliar.
You understand the terms listed in the job description.
You’d struggle commuting to the job’s location.
The starting salary would cover your living expenses.
The job’s responsibilities sound unpleasant or even degrading.
Send two to three job applications a day (10 to 15 per week) if you’re currently employed, and send three to five or more a day (15 to 20+ per week) if you’re currently unemployed.
Send no more than three job applications a day if you’re applying to highly technical or demanding positions.
Prepare resume and cover letter templates designed to fit specific types of careers. Tweak them as needed for each individual job application.
Save, remix, and reuse the content you create for fillable fields in job application forms.
Only apply to a job if your qualifications match, you truly want the job, and you think you have a good chance of getting hired.