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7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Applying for a Job

Don’t apply to another job until you’ve asked yourself these questions. [TWEET]

Let’s face it - the job search can be a frustrating process. And job applications? Don’t get me started! Before you spend another minute filling out yet another tedious online application, ask yourself the following questions to make sure it’s worth your time.

Does the role fit into my long-term career plans?

Whenever possible, be strategic with the roles you choose to pursue. Each job should be a stepping stone towards your ideal career. When evaluating a position, consider if it will help you build the right skills for your dream job. Even if you’re searching for part-time work to help pay the bills, look for opportunities that would allow you to work in your target industry or expose you to a field you want to pursue in the future.

If you’re already established in your career and seeking full-time work, consider if the job plays to your strengths or will help you fill any skill gaps that are holding you back from getting ahead. While no job is perfect, do you find the majority of the job description to be enticing? Don’t apply to a job you know will leave you feeling bored, unmotivated, or just plain frustrated.

Do I meet the requirements? Am I over or under qualified for the role?

Remember, almost only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades. Before you apply to a job, carefully review the job description. Then read it over one more time. Some job postings will include a ridiculously long wish list of qualifications they’d like the ideal candidate to possess. Your job is to identify which of those qualifications are on the hiring manager’s list of must-have requirements. In other words, what are the deal breakers? If an MBA and six years of management experience are required and you don’t have these, then the job application is a waste of your time and theirs.

Pay special attention to the number of years that are required for the role. If they’re looking for someone with 3-5 years of experience and you just graduated with little to no relevant internship experience, this job is a not a good fit. The same goes if you have 10 or more years of relevant experience. The required years of experience indicate the level of responsibility the position holds and the pay range the company is willing to offer. If you’re overqualified for the job, you can expect the pay to be less than what you’re accustomed to making. In addition, the organization may assume you’ll get bored in the position and jump ship as soon as a better opportunity comes around.

What do I know about the company culture?

You can possess all the qualifications for a role, but if you don’t mesh well with the organization’s culture, then you ultimately won’t be successful. Consider the work environments of the companies where you’ve thrived in the past to get a sense of what types of companies you should target during your current job search. Take steps to investigate the company culture of a prospective employer to make sure the job application is worth your time.

Is the commute reasonable?

If you took this position, how would you get to work? Would you need to relocate for the role (and if so, are you and your family willing and able to make such a move)? Would you be able to take public transportation or would you have to drive? How much would your commute cost you per year? How long would it take you to get to the office? Does the company have a reputation of offering flexible work schedules or telecommuting options?

While you may love the job opportunity, you have to be realistic. First, local candidates usually get preference over those who apply from out-of-state because employers are worried about relocation costs and getting burned by a impulsive candidate who turns into a costly flight risk. Second, the length and the cost of your commute must be taken into account. Both of these factors have an impact on your quality of life. Make sure the commute is feasible before you apply.

Do I know anyone who works at the company?

Studies have shown you’re 10 times more likely to land the job when your application is accompanied but an employee referral. Before you submit your application, go through your network to see if you know anyone who currently works or previously worked at the organization. Oftentime the online application will specifically ask you if you know someone at the company. I guarantee those candidates get some preferential treatment. Also, if you reach out to your connection, they may be able to pass a copy of your resume along to the hiring manager, helping you bypass some of the initial applicant screening processes.

As an added bonus, this person may be able to provide you with insights into the company culture and the organization's hiring practices to help you evaluate the position and customize your resume and cover letter accordingly.

Have I customized my resume and cover letter?

Even a professionally-written resume may require a few tweaks for a particular position. Take a look at the job description one more time. How do they define the role and its responsibilities? What specific language do they use to state the core requirements? If you possess those qualifications, make sure it will be obvious to the reader.

You can also copy and paste the job description and your resume into JobScan.co to identify the most frequently used resume keywords and see how your application measures up. Click on the following link for more tips on how to avoid the resume black hole.

Does my online presence support my career story?

According to a study by Jobvite, 93 percent of employers will search for your social profiles before inviting you in for an in-person interview. Make sure your online presence is consistent with your resume so that the person they meet in person and read about on paper matches what they find online. Click on the following links for tips on how to monitor your online brand and to download my free personal branding checklist.

Need help writing your resume? Our TopResume writers can help!

Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!

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Write your resume like a pro.

TopResume's resume worksheet is just like the one our pros use. Download it now for free and start getting more interviews!