Applying for jobs can seem stressful, but it's actually quite exciting--especially during recruiting season. After you’ve perfected your resume, done your research, and networked your heart out, you’re ready to submit job applications. Here are some recommendations to guide you through the application process.
1. Start the application process early
You’ve decided which firms to apply to and you know the application deadlines. Don’t wait until the last day to hit submit! Websites can breakdown, emergencies can happen, and Netflix may release a new season of your favorite show that day. Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong, so start your application early and turn it in early to eliminate any last-minute stress.
2. Tailor your resume to fit the job description
When reading job descriptions, check for key words and phrases like “strong analytical skills” or “anxious to learn.” Once you’ve determined some important characteristics that the company is looking for in an employee, edit your resume to reflect the characteristics that you portray and can show with examples. It's not about crafting your resume to mirror their job description verbatim; rather, you want to show how you demonstrate the qualities they're looking for.
3. Create a custom cover letter for each job application
It’s so easy to use the same cover letter for each job application by just switching the company names, BUT DON’T DO IT! Why? Each company is looking for a different set of requirements and qualifications, so don’t send the same cover letter to every company you apply to. (If you’re really in a time crunch and have a midterm or an essay due the same day as a job application, then a reused cover letter is better than no cover letter at all. However, only send the same cover letter if you’re in a pinch, otherwise, schedule out some time to create custom cover letters.)
Like the advice I gave in the previous tip, tailor your cover letter to fit the job description. Does the job call for a “detail-oriented” person? Write a little blurb about a time you were detail-oriented, like maybe you caught a $0.01 difference in a bank reconciliation that no one else caught. I know what you’re thinking: "Really? A $0.01 difference? Who would care about that?" But, if you find 99 more cents, then you have a dollar!
4. Thoroughly follow any directions that the firm included in their job description
In the recruiting process, firms can get hundreds or maybe thousands of applications for the same job, so some firms give detailed instructions to streamline their evaluation process. Make sure to THOROUGHLY follow any instructions that the firm gives you, because recruiters may automatically filter out applicants that failed to follow the instructions. For example, did the firm ask you to follow a certain file naming convention? Some firms ask that you name your files a certain way, like “Last Name, First Name – Name of document MM-DD-YY.” Double and triple check that your files are named correctly!
Another example is that you may have to submit two applications, one through your school’s career website and one through the firm’s internal career platform. If the instructions for the job application tell you to submit an additional application, make sure that you submit the second application! While I was going through recruiting during my senior year, one of the Big 4 firms disqualified applicants who did not complete both applications. The moral of the story is: follow all of the directions!
5. Lastly, ask your past/current managers or professors to be your references once you submit your applications. Any other professionals that know your work ethic would be great references, too.
Asking ahead of time will give your references enough time to prepare great things to say about you. Giving your references some talking points or an outline may help them even more! Nowadays, it may be rare for a company to call your references, but it doesn’t hurt to be over prepared and to ask someone to be your reference.
Once you’ve submitted all of your job applications, celebrate your hard work! If you’re going to be in Audit or Tax, then crack open that textbook to do an extra problem set. If you’re going to be in Advisory, then you would probably do what normal people do. If you’re totally lost, please Google “ways to celebrate” and go from there. Good luck out there!
-Lysern Marcelino, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review