On the other hand, if you are faced with a free form situation with little or no guidance from the school as to what to present, then the tough choices are yours to make. The guiding principle in any free form employment application is to make the best possible impression. You can do that by making sure your employment application is clear, perfect and tailored to suit the specific position for which you are applying.
Creating a clear, compelling resume sounds simple enough. Unfortunately most people do not craft a resume which presents them in the best possible light. The trick to writing a good resume is to write it knowing that somebody who has never met you and knows nothing about you is going to read it and make a judgement about whether to interview you or not. Second chances are unlikely. You need to get it right the first time.
Nowhere is clarity more important than in that small paragraph which most resumes caption as "Objective". This is where you state why you want the job for which you are applying. This will be the most difficult paragraph you have ever written. Why? Because you must state clearly why you want the job and how you are the perfect candidate for the position. You will have to draft that paragraph then hone it until it tells the reader at first glance that they must interview you.
Perfection is another critical element in making your job application easy to read. Typos and other glitches make the wrong statement about you. Think of typos and other imperfections in your job application in the same way you regard somebody whose makeup is smudged or whose clothes don't fit nicely. If you know the person, you will forgive and move on, right? But the person reading your job application doesn't know you. Therefore, those imperfections are a strike against you. You might make the 'interview' pile if your credentials are truly impeccable and impressive. But why take the chance?
Who is your competition? You do not know how many applications the school has received for that position. In a tough job market where there are more applicants than there are jobs, It is simply foolish to take a chance by submitting a job application which isn't perfect.
Tailor to Suit
If you are applying to several schools, it makes sense to use the same basic materials, doesn't it? Not exactly. Never write a generic 'one size fits all' paragraph stating your objective. You must read the job posting very carefully and scour the school's website from start to finish making absolutely certain that what you state in your objective is what they want. If the match is not apparent instantly, your application could end up in the 'reject' pile.
Luckily for you, word processing software allows you to customize your application, resume and supporting materials to each specific job. Don't be lazy and take shortcuts in this step. The time invested in customizing your application materials will make your application stand out. By making your job application easy to read, you stand a much better chance of having your application read and put in the 'interview' pile.
As with just about every other aspect of your job search, make sure that your mentor or other trusted advisor reviews the application and supporting materials before you click Submit or mail it.
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