How to Successfully Apply for a Job

Staffing firm Robert Half’s regional vice president Tim Mullane shares his insights for handling the job-hunting process.

FInding a significant other and finding a job are much the same: the searching, the uneasiness, the unwritten rules. You’re on your own when it comes to love, but, as for finding a job, Tim Mullane, regional vice president at Robert Half, a temporary and permanent staffing firm with more than 350 locations worldwide (including a branch in White Plains), has advice on how to handle the job hunt.

You’re a finalist for a job. Should you continue interviewing for other positions? “Absolutely,” Mullane says, since no offer is firm until you’ve received the job. If you still haven’t received that final offer, follow up weekly, Mullane advises.

You’ve received a job offer and you’re a finalist for another job. What should you do?  “I always encourage people to be fairly straightforward,” says Mullane—but not completely. Say something like, “I’m very happy you’ve made me this offer, but I do need a few days to work through things on my end.” But don't wait more than a couple days to let your prospective employers know what you’ve decided.

A company requires an electronic application. Should you still write a cover letter? “I absolutely encourage, whenever possible, to put in a short paragraph as to why you are a good fit,” Mullane says. If you’re applying via email, put the cover letter in the body of the email. “The manager will open the email and there’s the information,” says Mullane. “You don’t want people to do too much work.”

The employer has a “don’t call us, we’ll call you stance.” How should you follow up? Wait a week to follow up. “I encourage email, although it’s not inappropriate to make a phone call,” Mullane says. “But make sure it’s respectful, not aggressive, and fairly brief.”

You’re looking for full-time employment, but are offered an interim assignment. Should you take it? "I absolutely encourage people to consider an interim assignment,” Mullane says. His reasons: It helps pay your bills; if you’re out of work too long, people start to question why that is; and, most important, if you’re in a temporary position and do a good job, they’re more likely to hire you full-time.

You find the hiring manager on LinkedIn before the interview. Should you connect with him? No. If anything, wait until after the interview to connect. But looking at the profile beforehand "could give you pretty good tips and information of what they’re looking for,” says Mullane, since most hiring managers are looking for people with a similar background to their own. Looking at his or her profile will help you understand the manager’s background, which you can touch on in the interview.

You don’t meet all the qualifications listed for a position. Is it still okay to apply? “As long as you have the core of what they’re looking for, it's okay to submit your resumé,” Mullane says.

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