Learning how to follow directions starts well before kindergarten, and yet many job seekers think it's acceptable to ignore application instructions that don't seem important or are bothersome. Remember that application instructions exist to help the company's hiring process flow smoothly, and not following them properly could be keeping you from getting an interview. Here are three reasons to follow every instruction, and a few tips on how to make sure you do.
Make Sure Your Application Materials Get Seen
Some application instructions are there to help streamline the application sorting process. In some cases, your materials might be filtered out electronically before an actual person sees them simply because they do not fit the guidelines given. In other cases, having your material presented in the wrong format makes it more difficult to share with committees and others involved in the hiring process. For example, if the instructions ask for an attached cover letter and you put yours in the body of the email, it may not be printed out for distribution using the company's normal methods. Even if your nonconforming application materials make it through to a person, that person might quickly move them to the no pile if they see they are in the wrong format or don't include requested information.
Let Them Know You Can Follow Instructions
Prospective employees who properly follow application instructions are likely to become employees who follow instructions. Although you might think your nonconforming materials show your creativity or individuality, the hiring manager is likely to see you as someone who thinks the rules are not for him. Instead, choose alternate methods to stand out during the job search process. Share achievements and activities that show your creative side, and give your cover letter an attention-grabbing first sentence. Make sure your resume is easy to scan in six seconds or less by including plenty of white space and using graphic organizers for your information. Add a link to a video presentation or website that shows your qualifications for the position.
Show You Value Others' Time
If the application instructions prohibit follow-up phone calls, do not call. You are not an exception to this rule. Calling interrupts the workflow for someone else and shows a lack of respect for the time of others. Often, this instruction is in place because the company expects hundreds of applicants. If they all called, the hiring manager would never be able to find the time to review the application materials and hire for the position.
If you keep sending out applications and resumes but aren't getting called in for interviews, double check the application instructions for the jobs to which you are applying. Make a list of the requirements, and check off each one as it is met. Show potential employers that you value their time and can follow instructions to move you closer to getting an interview and a great job.
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