Posted June 26, 2015 by

How to Submit the Perfect Job or Internship Application

3 Her Campus co-founders

From left to right: Windsor Hanger Western, Annie Wang, and Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, 3 Her Campus co-founders

Applying for jobs and internships can be an incredibly stressful experience. So much is riding on the applications that we either begin to overanalyze every step of the process, or we freak out and submit as many applications as we can, as quickly as possible, without reviewing our materials properly.

Instead of going crazy over the application process, just follow the simple steps outlined below to ensure that you’re presenting your best self in all of the materials that you submit. Trust us, this process can actually be stress-free!

Step 1: Tailor your resume

When you’re applying for a job or an internship, chances are that the hiring manager has never met or seen you before. Your resume is the first way that hiring managers can get to know you, your skills, and what you’re able to bring to the table as a potential intern or employee.

Typically, every job or internship that you apply for will seek a different type of applicant. You don’t want to mention your experience writing for your high school newspaper if you’re applying for an engineering internship, just like you wouldn’t want to emphasize your work in the bio lab if you’re applying to intern at a fashion magazine.

Look at your past experiences, then decide how the positions you’ve held before can specifically relate to the position you’re applying to with this company. It might be a good idea to create one master resume of everything that you’ve ever done, from part-time jobs to volunteering positions to internships. Then you can simply copy and paste individual, relevant items from that master resume onto a new tailored resume for each specific position that you apply to.

When you tailor your resume to emphasize the qualities in yourself that the company is seeking in an employee or intern, you’re going to make yourself stand out much more to a hiring manager.

Additional tips for perfecting your resume:

Never say “I” “me” or “my” in your resume—all descriptions should be written in the third person.
Keep it to one page.
Use action verbs—when describing your responsibilities in a past position, write “Wrote three articles per week,” not “Writing three articles per week.”
Include your email address (and make sure it’s a professional one!)
Don’t include references—and don’t write “references available upon request,” either! Employers know that they can request references from you. Including them on your resume will just look like you’re trying to fill up space.

Step 2: Create a custom cover letter

I know what you’re thinking: I just tailored my resume for this job, now I have to create a custom cover letter, too?! That’s so much work! Bear with us—you’ll see why this step is super essential in snagging your dream job or internship.

First of all, you need to figure out to whom you’ll be addressing this cover letter. Do a little research if you have to, but before you even begin crafting your cover letter, you should know the name and address of the employee you’re sending your cover letter to once it’s finished. You can search the employee (and their title at the company!) on LinkedIn, or you could even call the company and speak to a receptionist who could give you more information. You never want to say “To Whom It May Concern” when addressing a cover letter.

And of course, once you find the employee’s name and address, be sure to spell both correctly! Emphasize your close attention to detail, or you’ll risk having your precious cover letter tossed into the trash before the employee even gets to the first line of it.

You should write the name, title, company and address at the top of your cover letter on the left side, like this:

Mr. John Doe
Hiring Manager at Company, Inc.
123 Street Name City, ST 12345

Then comes your greeting, which should be “Dear Mr./Mrs. Doe.” Follow that with a colon, not a comma! Colons are professional, while commas are more informal.

Begin your cover letter with an introduction to the job you’re interested in, followed by an introduction to yourself. Mention your name, your school, your major and your year. So, for example:

Dear Mr. John Doe:

Please consider this letter, my resume and the attached application for
employment as a summer 2015 editorial intern at Company, Inc. My
name is Jane Smith and I am a sophomore at State University majoring
in communications.

Next, you should say something positive about the specific company that you’re applying for. It should be something specifically tailored to this company in particular. You could say:

I have always admired Company Inc’s unique marketing directives,
such as [insert specific marketing directive here], and it has always
been in line with my career goals to work for Company Inc for that reason.

After that, you should (very quickly!) tell them why you’re awesome. Choose your very best qualities, and try to relate them to the qualities the company mentioned in the original job description. Be specific, though—you don’t want to bore them with buzzwords like “detail-oriented,” “dedicated” or “eager to learn.” Tie each positive quality you mention to something specific that you’ve done in the past, and try to stick to three of them.

Remember, you don’t have to regurgitate your entire resume here, since they’ll read that next! You just have to give them enough positive details about yourself to make them want to read your resume. Try a template like this:

When I interned at [insert company here], I used my [insert skill here]
to complete [insert responsibility here].

After this, you want to close your cover letter with a clear next step. Let the hiring manager know when you’ll be available for an interview (either on the phone or in person) and let them know how they can contact you. Additionally, be sure to let them know that if you don’t hear from them, you’ll contact them at a specific time. For example:

I would love to speak over the phone or in person to learn more about
this position and to schedule an interview. I am always available via
email at janesmith@gmail.com or by phone at 555-555-5555. If I do
not hear from you by April 15, I will reach out to you about this
editorial internship.

Finally, thank the hiring manager for taking the time to read your cover letter. Then you’ll want to say goodbye as professionally as possible—use a closing like “best,” “sincerely,” or “best regards.” Your closing should look something like this:

Thank you so much for considering my candidacy for this position,
and I hope to hear from you soon.

Very best regards,
Jane Smith

Voilà! There you have it. You can save this cover letter as a template, then simply replace the company name, employee name and specific skills each time that you submit a cover letter to another company.

Step 3: The actual application

This step can vary from company to company. Some companies may have an online application, some may ask you to submit clips or a portfolio of your work, and some may simply ask you to submit an email with your (now totally awesome!) cover letter and resume.

If you’re submitting a real application, be sure to read through each step carefully before you submit it. You don’t want a silly mistake (for instance, typing your first name in the “Last Name” field and your last name in the “First Name” field) to ruin your chances of getting the job or internship you’ve worked so hard to apply to. For more information about submitting job applications, check out The Her Campus Guide to College Life: How to Manage Relationships, Stay Safe and Healthy, Handle Stress, and Have the Best Years of Your Life!

Step 4: Proofread!

This step is absolutely crucial! Before you submit your resume, cover letter or application, you MUST proofread all of them to ensure that no typos or other silly mistakes will lead your application to be totally disregarded by a hiring manager for lack of attention to detail.

Read through each document a few times in your head. Then read the document aloud to yourself—this will help you catch mistakes that you might not catch otherwise. Ask your roommate, a friend, a professor, a family member or anybody else you can find to take a look at it and point out any mistakes or any phrases that might not make sense or “flow.”

Once you’ve done this, you’re finally ready to submit your application! Triple check that you’ve attached all of the necessary documents, then take a deep breath and click “submit.”

Step 5: Follow Up

Like you said in your cover letter, if the company doesn’t reach out to you by a certain date, the ball is in your court! Send a polite email including which position you applied for and the date that you applied for it. Mention once again how interested you are in the position and ask if there’s any other information that you can provide the hiring manager at this time.

If you still don’t receive a response within two weeks of your follow-up email, you can try emailing again in a similar format or you can call and politely state your name and the position you applied for, and ask if there are any updates concerning your application, or whether there is any further information that you can provide. This shows the employer that you truly care about the position in question and demonstrates your dedication to the company.

Be careful, though! You don’t want to follow up any more than every two weeks, or you could become an annoyance to the hiring manager and ruin your chances of getting the position you worked so hard for.

There you have it! With these five fool-proof steps, you’ll be on your way to snagging your dream job or internship in no time.

by Her Campus

Her Campus is the #1 global community for college women. Written entirely by the world’s top college journalists, HerCampus.com features national Style, Beauty, Health, Love, Career, LGBTQ+, High School, and Real World content supplemented by local content from 270+ campus chapters around the world. In addition, Her Campus published their first book The Her Campus Guide to College Life this Spring. More info found at www.hercampus.com/book.

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Posted in Advice for Candidates, Applying, Career Advice, Cover Letters, Internships, Job Search, Resumes | Tagged Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,