Most of your time ‘on the job market’ is going to be spent performing redundant tasks that usually go nowhere, like Sisyphus pushing that rock up the hill over and over again, you will feel trapped in a purgatory from which escape seems impossible. The difference, of course, being that from time to time you have to let the rock roll back down the hill, put on some nice clothes, and go sit and talk to an interviewer who sees you more as the rock than as the valiant worker struggling to get uphill. Then you have to go pickup that goddamn rock again and start climbing some more.
This is the first application article, this one will help you figure out the nuts and bolts of filling out forms electronically (and for free!* *provided you already spent money on a computer and internet connection). There is a handy list, after the exposition, near the end of the article. If you are looking for what sort of information to put on your application, check out Part Three: Advanced Methods in Talking Pretty on Job Applications.
In my experience the single worst part of this process is the application. Well, every part is actually the worst part, but filling out applications sucks even by job search standards. That stupid, non-uniform but mostly similar, lines too short, boxes to small, form we have to fill out 900 times per job search. The information provided on a form is identical to that on a well-written resume, save for a few details no one pays attention to anyway. The problem is that at some point someone in HR at the company you are applying for took a course in HR and the instructor of that course, probably a person who hasn’t applied for a job since the Eisenhower Administration, said you have to have people fill out applications. “For uniformity, damnit! For fairness! For a papertrail! What do you mean everyone has a magic box that can store all that information for them? How can someone talk to another person on a computer? My god! What do you mean computers are in every home, computers are the size of buildings? How can you have a computer in your pocket? And why, dear god why, are you crushing so much candy with it?!” Says the old man caricature HR instructor.
Maybe applications still serve some purpose, I suppose. I mean, just because they have to be emailed now. And then printed. And then largely ignored until someone’s boss says they need to pick some candidates and they flip through them madly and pull a handful out more or less by random. “These are the best candidates, for sure. You can believe that!” This hiring manager says, confidently, though they know, deep down, they’ve no fucking idea of what they are doing and just praying that this isn’t really a job search to replace them. Yet the point is that things can serve a very stupid purpose, and still be serving a purpose.
Ostensibly this series of articles is meant to help people find a job, so at this point I’ll give you all the secrets, tips, and tricks that hiring managers look for on an application. First, they want to see you’ve filled it out completely. End of list.
Because that is really all that matters, honestly, just filling the damned things out. No one is going to look that closely at it until or unless you get an interview with them, and even then the first time they see your application, really see it is going to be when you are sitting across from them in an office or conference room and they realize they have no idea who the hell they are talking to because you are the 15th candidate they’ve interviewed for this position and everyone is just sort of blurring into one amorphous blob of a job seeker. They will try to make it sound like they have carefully studied your application, your resume, your cover letter you slaved over for hours, but in reality they would rather spend their time crushing candy than reading redundant forms over and over again.
Yet I agree that doesn’t really help you if you came here looking for real advice on how to fill out applications that get noticed. Or even if you came here after bashing your head against the wall for a while because your will to live has been zapped by the millionth form you have to fill out and you are sort of in a daze of job hunting stupor. So below are some actual tips, the first few of which are just instructions on how to set up an account on google, so if you’ve already done that then commence skimming:
- Get a gmail Account. If you have one already then look at you fancy pants, but for those that don’t have one sign up for one. Go to Google.com and there should be some buttons in the upper right hand corner that will say something like “Add Account” or “Create an Account,” click on something like that and pick a username and fill out some basic info and you are all set.
- Open your Google Drive. The icon looks like a green and yellow triangle, sort of like the recycling triangle on soda cans, but greener and yellowier (that is how you can tell them apart, you see). It will bring up a pretty basic interface that you can use to create documents, upload stuff, store things in the cloud, etc. Chances are you probably have enough of an understanding of computers (unless you are one of my old man caricatures in which case how to you come to life?!) to figure this out. If not use some FAQs, helpfully provided if you click on anything labeled “help” in Google.
- Install DocHub. It may already be installed as an extension (if this sounds too complicated or like complete gibberish you will likely want to consult your grandchildren on how computers work), to find out upload a PDF by dragging the file from your computer into the big middle part of your google drive page. A little box will appear in the lower right hand corner and should show progress in the form of little blue circles while it is uploading. Right-click the PDF once it has been uploaded and in the dialog box click “Open With” and select DocHub.
- Use DocHub to fill out your Application. You can add text boxes, check marks, a few other things, to any PDF. It will even try to help you get them to match the lines already on the page. It isn’t really a shortcut, perse, as you still have to fill it out line-by-line (unless you upgrade to the pro-version, which I do not recommend only because I never have done it and so have no idea if it is worth it or not), but you can copy & paste info straight from your resume and references. Or type them in manually if you have one of those old fashioned ‘sheets of paper’ with your job related info on it.
- Download the Complete Application to your Hard Drive (or Google Drive). You can print it out if you need to, or, much, much more likely, attach it to an email you are sending the place you want to work.
- Copy and Paste from Previous Applications. Now we get to the short cut part. Once you’ve filled out one mind-numbing application you can use it as a template for all the rest. Simply open it and the new application up in two different tabs (again, if that doesn’t make sense ask your grandchildren if their kids know how this stuff works) and copy and paste, line by line. Easier, faster, not easy or fast, though. But it will save you having to type out the same information again and again and maybe protect that tiny bit of sanity you are still clinging to after going through a job search.
Never fill anything out by hand anymore. It is tempting at times to just write it out one by one, but keep in mind no matter how well suited you are for a job, no matter how much you want that job, no matter how sure you are you are going to get that job, you are likely going to have to fill out 17 million of these things so the only real option is to turn your job search into a factory line. Plus, eventually you are going to have to email a completed form to someone. Printing it out, filling it in by hand, and then scanning it back in will look terrible. It just will. Scanning technology has barely advanced in the last three decades despite the fact we now all carry around phones that can be used as digital scanners. Just do it all digitally. And then maybe take a nap because this whole process sucks.
This is Part Two of the Occupational Misadventure Series.