The Dos & Don’ts of Applying for a Job Today

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Looking for a job can feel like an endless cycle of applying for positions, waiting anxiously, not hearing anything back and then applying for more positions -- but it doesn't have to be that way. Whether you've been on the hunt for a new gig for a while, or you're just starting to think about searching for something different, there are some simple dos and don'ts that can help speed up the process.

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Ahead, find out what recruiters say you should do (and refrain from doing) to increase your chances of landing each job you apply for.

Dos

1. Do use your network

When asked what job hunters absolutely must do in order to successfully find a gig, the Glassdoor recruiting team had a simple answer: Utilize your connections. "People on the job hunt need to be proactive in reaching out to contacts they have in the industries or at the companies of interest to them," says James Parker, an employee recruiting manager at Glassdoor. While it's true that most job seekers have already heard this advice, that's because it actually works. "Being a referral gives you better odds than being a general applicant," Parker explains.

2. Do call out why you want to work somewhere

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During the application process, it's important to single out exactly what it is about the company you're applying to that makes it a great fit for you. "Far too many candidates focus on why they want to leave their current role and badmouth their boss or employer and don't have a compelling story as to why they want to work for the new company," Parker says. "As recruiters, we don't want to be a rebound. We want you to want us." So keep things forward-facing and focus on what makes each company you're applying to special, rather than why you're eager to escape your current situation.

3. Do keep your materials updated

Part of putting your best foot forward is making sure you're projecting the right image of yourself to potential employers. "Ensure that your social profiles and resume are up-to-date and in line with what the job you are applying for requires," recommends Linda Schubert, an employee recruiting manager at Glassdoor. That means your job history should be current on career networking sites, and your resume should include all your most recent experience.

"Make sure that your resume is in a clean and easily digestible format so recruiters and hiring managers can pull out your key accomplishments," Parker adds. "Double check for grammatical errors and even get a second pair of eyes to take a look. If you mention the role, recruiter or company name on your resume or cover letter, be mindful that you need to change it for each application." Lastly, try to keep your resume to one page, or one and a half pages at the absolute most. "Too much information can actually be a bad thing and lower your chances of making it to the next round," he says.

4. Do be specific

Don't hesitate to let recruiters and hiring managers know exactly what type of role you're looking for; it only increases your chances of hearing back. "Make sure that if you are reaching out to a recruiter that you are referencing a specific role that you are interested in," recommends Bree Silveira, a sales recruiter at Glassdoor. "Many times, when a resume is sent with a general note that you are interested in opportunities, it's difficult for the recruiter to quickly decipher where you would be the best fit in the company. If you are specific, we can quickly assess your skills and background against the job if we own it or pass it along to a different team member who is responsible." If there aren't any job listings in your wheelhouse but you still want to make a hiring contact, at least specify which area of the business you're interested in.

5. Do your research

Not only should you be tuned in to the details of the companies you're applying to, but it's also crucial to do some background searching on the people you'll interact with during the application process -- especially if you're doing a phone interview or get called in for a face-to-face interview. "It is a great idea to research those that you will be speaking with in advance so you can get to know them a bit better and build rapport," Silveira says.

Don'ts

1. Don't have a boring resume

While your resume should definitely be short, it also should be engaging. "Make sure you list not just what you have done on your resume, but also how you moved the needle and really made an impact at that organization," says Schubert. "That is what truly sets you apart from the rest."

2. Don't be a shotgun candidate

Casting a wide net at a company you have your heart set on is tempting, but you'll actually have more success if you hone in on one position that you're really, truly interested in. "Don't apply to several roles at a company in the hopes that something sticks," Parker says. Along the same lines, he suggests ensuring you've thoroughly read and evaluated the job description of each position you apply for. "Use your time and energy to be strategic and thoughtful with each application." Filling out more applications doesn't always increase your odds of landing a job unless you're applying to the right jobs.

3. Don't limit yourself

It's, of course, OK to apply for a position that you don't meet every single listed qualification for, just make sure you explain yourself. "If you have a non-traditional background for a role, a cover letter should be used to explain why you are pivoting your career and how you have been able to develop the skills needed for the role you are applying for," Parker says.

4. Don't follow up too often

"Following up shows your level of interest and that you are proactive," Schubert says. Just make sure to allow a reasonable amount of time between follow-ups. "Give the company time to get back to you and make decisions. Remember, they typically have several candidates to review and consider. If you don't hear back in three to five days, then follow up."

5. Don't be sneaky

This is a big one. "If you have received an email explaining that the role isn't the right fit, please don't go to another person in the organization trying to get a different answer," Schubert advises. "The recruiter is your point of contact and going around or above them is a big no-no." Doing something like this simply isn't worth it since it could hurt your chances of being considered for future opportunities at a given company.

This article originally appeared on Glassdoor.com.

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