How to Effectively Apply for Jobs

Applying for jobs is complicated. It takes a lot of effort and we aren’t inherently good at it because most of life doesn’t prepare us for the job application process. But this week Morgan breaks down 4 points on how to apply for jobs, improve, stay organized and increase your chances on landing your next gig.


[00:00:00] Let’s talk about applying for jobs.

Welcome to Effectively Human, where we discuss how to close the knowledge gap between technology and the people who use it each week. Your host Morgan Lopes will share real life practical tools on how to bridge the gap. Let’s jump in.

As we are entering the tech field, a big part of actually getting a shot to work somewhere to make money in the industry involves applying to work. During this episode, we are going to cover four areas that can improve the application process as well as increase the chance that we are [00:01:00] actually going to get a gig in technology.

When applying for jobs, it is important to actually sit down first and foremost and determine what success looks like from a job in tech. It’s safe to assume that your first gig is probably only going to last two to three years. That’s not a large chunk of time. And so during that season, what does success look like?

It’s common to start with high pay, great benefits and all the things, but the reality is many of us can concede in certain areas the opportunity to get our first shot. So as you think about the types of jobs that you’re applying for, or the requirements that you need. What does success look like for you in your first job?

Not every job, not the last job, but for your first opportunity in tech, what does success look like? What are your list [00:02:00] of must haves in a job? What are your lists of nice to have things where if you can get them, of course you’ll take them, but they are not a make or break for a given opportunity.

An example of where this can be impactful is salary.

What is the minimum salary you can afford for your first tech job? This isn’t the ideal salary. This is just the minimum amount of money that you can work for in this season of your life. For many of us, that number is actually a little bit lower than we would expect or anticipate or even love, but it could potentially open up a lot of new opportunities.

The same thing is true with benefits. If you are young entering technology or perhaps you have a spouse who also has a job with great benefits, then there could be some wiggle room here when it comes to things like health, insurance, and other [00:03:00] nice-to-have benefits if you can get them. That’s great.

But if you have flexibility that can open up more opportunities for you. Is isn’t necessarily the mindset that is intended to serve you for years or decades into the future as your life changes and evolves. Of course, you’re gonna need to come back and reevaluate what success looks like, but in defining success early for your first job, the goal is to prioritize experience and learning and opportunities to grow your skill and add things to your portfolio. And success to gain that might look a little bit different than it does once you already have those skills and those experience.

So what does success look like? What are the areas that you’re willing to compromise and what are the “must-haves” for your first job?

Next thing to keep in mind when applying to jobs is quantity, the number of jobs [00:04:00] that you are shooting for.

I’ve spoken with many code school students and bootcamp grads, and those transitioning into tech. And it’s startling to me, the number of people who are content with applying to six or seven jobs. An anecdote that might be helpful is: if you do not need a spreadsheet, manage the jobs that you are applying to you either aren’t applying to enough or you aren’t effectively managing those applications consistently enough, win a job.

This breaks at a certain, you apply to 300 jobs, maybe enough time hasn’t been spent on any one application to be successful. But when you consider how many applicants, every hiring manager gets at a company, you quickly start to realize if every person only applies to a handful of jobs and every employer is parsing through hundreds or thousands [00:05:00] of applications.

Numbers don’t quite add up. So, when you are considering the application process, ask yourself how many opportunities am I actually giving myself. You get a job there, a great template. It’s online for spreadsheets to manage job applications. And I would encourage you to check those out, but a few things that would be worth tracking alongside just the quantity of jobs is each place that you applied.

What interested you about that place? As you start to explore lots of jobs and opportunities, it’s going to be easier and easier to get these things confused and details to get them confused. So having those well-defined can be helpful when hiring manager replies, or you get the opportunity to go to the next step in the process, recording what interested you out each place?

And then the specific details about the role. If you immediately check the box and you have those [00:06:00] skills and abilities, and it’s probably not worth putting them in there, perhaps adding to the spreadsheet and area where you flag areas that you might not fully qualify. If you record those at the time of applying for the job, then it’s removes a step when it comes time to move to the next stage of the hiring process.

Or as you’re circling back through your list and trying to narrow it down or refine your criteria, flag areas where you might not qualify and then maybe spend a little time thinking through how would you overcome an objection to you not having those skills. It is perfectly fine to apply to a job when you don’t meet all the criteria.

But, if you are actively applying to a job where you don’t meet the criteria. It is worth having an answer in case the potential employer raises that as a question. So thinking through that and adding that to the spreadsheet of the jobs that you are applying for can save time and allow you to seem more articulate and thoughtful when it comes to [00:07:00] actually going through the interview process.

And then finally, a thing to consider when mapping out the jobs that you’re applying for is what stage in the process are you with each company? If you’re trying to remember all this or keep it top of mind, I would say, if you can do it successfully, then you’re probably not pursuing enough opportunities because as you start to apply and begin the interview process, it gets complicated.

Most of us can probably manage two or three things, two or three different stages at different potential employers in our heads. But if we are pushing for the volume of jobs and applications needed to get a gig and we should have more than we can probably carry in our minds. So recording on the spreadsheet for each job, what stage am I in this process?

The last thing around increasing the quantity of jobs we reach out to is also the diversity of doors we’ve pursue to get into any opportunity. So rather than [00:08:00] merely applying hunt for connections. Who was their hiring manager? Who was their most recent hire to the company? Can you find them on LinkedIn? Can you reach out to them? Add a friend request , and try and connect with the humans behind the company. Not merely trying to connect with just the business through the traditional channels.

Why is that worth doing? It’s worth looking for other ways in other doors, because everyone’s coming through the front door, through the traditional application, but few people go above and beyond to find members of the organization that they can also start to build relationships with.

One of the most challenging things when applying for jobs is the lack of practice that we get most things in life. If we want to get better, we applied deliberate practice over time. Unfortunately, both in the application process, as well as the interview process, we don’t get a lot of [00:09:00] practice. One of the benefits of increasing the quantity of jobs we apply to is that gives us more opportunities to try to tweak, to improve our understanding and our attempts in hopes that we actually get better. When we don’t have a lot of experience practicing, it’s really hard to improve.

This becomes, especially valuable with reflection. So many people will get rejected. They’ll get turned down from a job or an opportunity and they’ll move on to the next application. An important part of practice is feedback. It’s Reasonable to ask someone who has declined you or turns you down for feedback about  what it is about your portfolio or your experience or your interview that you could improve for the future. They may not answer, but that’s valuable ask for that feedback in the event that they do. They may say that you don’t reach the requirements that we’re looking [00:10:00] for, or we have too many applicants. Their feedback can be really valuable. And since hiring and applying for jobs is something that we don’t inherently get a lot of practice with. Then that feedback is a really valuable part of improving and getting better.

There are two feedback questions that I love. One is: What did you enjoy or like about this? And then the second is, What could I do to improve in the future and in the application process specifically, the second one’s the most valuable.

And so if you could only ask one, what is one thing I could improve for the future? Many people might not answer it’s at least worth asking. And the feedback that you get could be applied to future opportunities. Since we don’t naturally get a lot of time to practice.

Applying for jobs is complicated. It takes a lot of effort and we aren’t inherently good at it because most of life doesn’t prepare us for the job application process.

So it’s [00:11:00] important to consider what does success look like for us when we’re applying to a job? How do we increase the volume? The quantity of opportunities that we have at our disposal? And even if a job is slightly off the target or different than we would expect, how might we use each application as a way to practice, to try new things and experiment in ways that we could improve our outcome.

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