Flexibility in Job Application

How learning to adapt can land you a great job faster.

Searching for employment can be a time-consuming, exhausting process. With the upsurge in virtual communication, the process has also become more complicated: some jobs require you to apply online rather than in person.

Many people, especially those entering the job market for the first time, become understandably bewildered when met with the prospect of marketing their skills to such a vast market with so many different criteria for application. No one can create one résumé that will make them look appealing to every employer — so what can you do to make you look appealing to most employers?

The key to a successful job campaign, according to Ron McGowan, is flexibility. In his book, How to Find Work in the 21st Century, McGowan reminds jobseekers that there is no simple way to look for work; there are variables to take into account with each company. “Your résumé should be targeted to the needs of the company that you are contacting,” writes McGowan. “[This] just means making some modifications to [your résumé] to emphasize your most marketable skills that will appeal to them.”

McGowan’s claim rings true to Lauren Bourbeau who, having grown up in a small town, discovered firsthand the adjustments that needed to be made to her application process once she moved to Vancouver, BC. “I grew up in a town with one high school, one mall, and no Starbucks or Wal-Mart,” she says. “I learned pretty quickly when I got to Vancouver that I was going to have to alter my résumé in order to make my skills seem more marketable to larger corporations.”

Lauren made an appointment with a career advisor at her university. By the time she walked out of his office, she had a drastically different résumé in her hand than the one with which she had walked in.

Instead of just listing her job experience in point form, she had expanded upon the skills she had developed in those jobs. “For my job at a fast-food company, I said I had learned the qualities of teamwork and attentiveness to detail; for my position as a server, I said I honed my problem-solving and conflict-resolution skills,” she says.

The intention, her advisor explained, is to let the employer know how you are qualified for the specific position that is being offered. In other words, you have to be creative with how you present your skills in order to make them relevant to the specific job you’re applying for.

Are there guidelines you should stick to when applying for a position? Maybe, but these guidelines vary depending on who you talk to. Some career advisors will tell you your résumé should be no longer than one page, while others will advise you to fill two pages.

Some will advise you to wear a bright colour to interviews, while others still will tell you to dress more conservatively. There is no specific set of instructions that will lead you to more success than another –- it might be appropriate in some cases to have a longer résumé, while in other cases it might be better to trim it down.

The important thing to remember is to be flexible. Be prepared for twists and turns.

As author Ron McGowan, and Lauren Bourbeau herself will attest, adaptability is an integral skill for the successful job-seeker. Who knows — maybe someday you will be able to work that skill into your résumé!

Further Reference how-to-find-work-cover-large This article refers to the best-selling book, How to Find Work in the 21st Century, by Ron McGowan.

This book is currently in use at over 200 colleges, universities, and secondary schools in North America and Europe.

Read more about the book in our Web store.

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