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How to Ace Your Job Application

So, how do you get past the first hurdle? Simply provide the hiring authority with all the information they request. To insure that you accomplish your objective, make sure to do the following:

Before you even start the application process, gather up all of your certificates and licenses. Dig out, and dust off, your Diplomas. Create, or update, your resume. Make a list of personal references (make sure you ask the person if they are willing to serve as a reference). Make copies of all of these things; and keep them with you, always. You never know when an unexpected opportunity will arise, to apply for a firefighting position; and some employers will require you to complete the application on their premises.

Regardless of how you learned of the employment opportunity, contact the hiring authority; and obtain a copy of the job description, job announcement, and employment application. Newspaper advertisements are often incomplete; and job-hunting websites may not always have the most current information (Especially if the website received its information from a source other than the hiring authority). Even if you gained your information from the hiring authority’s website, it is worth your time to make a phone call; and make absolutely certain that you have the most current information.

Read the job announcement; and then read it again. Read the ENTIRE document, not just the minimum qualifications section. Sometimes agencies have specific application requirements that have nothing to do with the requirements necessary to get the job. These requirements are often not included in the minimum qualifications. In our last recruitment, seventy-five (75) percent of all applicants failed to provide a current copy of their driving record – because it wasn’t listed in the minimum qualifications.

Read the job/position description as well. While it is unlikely that anything in the job description will improve your application. You can save us both some time, if (for example) you aren’t interested in relocating; and learn early that the prospective employer has a residency requirement.

Read the employment application, every word of it; even the “fine print.” Failure to provide any of the requested information is grounds for rejection. Fortunately, for applicants for my department, I have complete control of the screening process. If our Human Resources department would have pre-screened our most recent pool of applicants, those who didn’t submit their driving records would have been summarily rejected. You won’t always be so fortunate.

If you are applying for multiple jurisdictions, keep the various job descriptions, applications, etc. separate from one another. In fact, fully complete one process before working on another. This isn’t my first rodeo; I know that you very likely are applying to multiple departments. However, receiving a nearly flawless application which has, instead of our signature page, the signature page of the application for a different agency, isn’t likely to garner you any extra credit. In our last recruitment, three (3) candidates failed the first part of the test by submitting an “incomplete” application (one which was missing our signature page).

Complete the application; making sure to provide all of the required information, but only the requested information. If the application, or job announcement, says to only include certain supporting documentation – save a tree and only submit what is requested. I know that each of you is proud (and rightfully so) of all of the certificates you have amassed. Trust me; you will have an opportunity to parade all of your certificates before the process is over.

Besides annoying the person screening the applications, by forcing them to sort through thirty (30) pages of certificates, when looking for only two (2); it increases your chances of overlooking something by using the “shotgun” approach. Additionally, if the application asks for information about “arrests and convictions” since your 18th birthday, there isn’t any reason to include the shoplifting charge from when you were 16. By no means am I suggesting that anyone be less than 100% honest; but there is no reason to “poison the well”. Besides, it is additional evidence that you can’t follow directions.

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