Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Writer's Guide to Job Applications

For those who may not know, I recently moved back to the United States after living in Europe for the past four years. *gasp* Let me tell you, it’s been quite the culture shock. (Why is everything air conditioned? Though considering the recent record-high temperatures in Europe, I’m not complaining.)

I started applying to jobs at the beginning of April before I quit my last job, then didn’t have my first in-person interview until July. I had my choice between three separate jobs and am now working as a substitute teacher.

Job hunting is hard work!

To my fellow writers who are looking into the job application process, here are a few things I learned along the way.

Writing the Resume

I’ve heard a lot of mixed advice about resumes, so I’m just going to tell you what I know from my experience. A lot of people are going to see your resume. But a lot of people are not. Sometimes the jobs you apply to online will run your resume through a digital analyzer that will drop you out of the application process before your resume even sees a human being.

So while it’s important for your resume to look nice, you can’t just have a standard one size fits all resume. That’s what a CV is for. Except when you’re applying to different jobs which require a different goal.

Often times, you have to personalize each resume to fit your application. I’m still the same person with the same experiences, but I have at least 20 different variations of the same resumes when I’m applying to jobs. You wouldn’t pitch an adult sci-fi novel to a kid looking for middle grade nonfiction. It all comes down to knowing your audience.

Writing the Cover Letter

I’m probably not the best person to be giving advice on this bit considering the cover letter is my least favorite part. But if you’ve ever queried literary agents before, think of it in a similar way. Make sure you have your general intro to your qualifications, a thank you at the end, and a personalization to the specific job.

Again, consider your audience.

The Never-ending Questions

Job applications are ridiculous. From “What’s your driver’s license number?” and “Provide reference contact information using only US phone numbers.” to “When’s the last time you donated blood?” and “Provide proof of the last trip you took to the moon.” Like, I’m sorry. Do you accept a stamp in my passport from my last trip to Narnia? No? Okay, let me go find my driver’s license.

How many applications?

Overall, I put out 50 job applications with an average application rate of three applications a work day. Just like you don’t have to send out every query letter at once, you also don’t have to apply to all the jobs at once. Some applications take one click while others take an hour and a half to two hours, depending on the job.

The Waiting Games

Keep in mind that you’re going to send in applications that go ignored. You’re going to get rejection letters. Wait, haven’t I heard this before? Sounds a lot like querying. And it is. In my experience, querying can take longer. I’ve been trying to find a literary agent for two separate books for over two years, but I’ve worked several jobs along the way. Time-wise, finding a job has been easier than finding a literary agent. At least that’s been my experience.

Job Application Sites

Ah, my old foe. Actually, job application websites can be quite helpful. Here’s a short list of ones I used to find and apply to various jobs:

Finally, I want to thank a couple of my friends for knowingly or unknowingly helping me out with my job application process. Katrina, you reminded me that yes, I can apply for positions even when my brain wants to find, in her words, an “adultier-adult.” Faith, you were such great emotional support even when your main piece of advice was just to cry. We’re all human and need a reminder that sometimes it’s okay to recognize we’re not okay. Only then can we truly move on. Sarah, for sharing in the woes of certain past and present jobs, for talking about the Avengers and X-men, and for that Skype call where I had the privilege of watching your roommate drink coffee straight from the pot. So much yes. Last but not least—brace yourself for some sentiment—Mom and Dad, you taught me to be the best me I could be.

Thank you all!

Enjoyed this post? Keep an eye out for Part 2: A Writer’s Guide to Interviews coming next month.

Let’s chat! What’s your ideal career? If applicable, how did you find your day job? Have any tips of your own for the job application process?


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