How to Apply for a Job in 6 Easy Steps

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated November 24, 2022 | Published July 26, 2021

Updated November 24, 2022

Published July 26, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you've never applied for a job before, the process can seem overwhelming. But, if you break the process down into steps, applying for a job is much easier than you think. Knowing how to apply and present yourself positively improves your chances of getting a job. In this article, we discuss what a job application is, explain how to apply for a position, and provide tips on how to submit an effective application.

What is a job application?

A job application is a formal summary of your education, experience, and skills for prospective employers. It helps employers determine if you would be a good fit for the position so they can schedule an interview.

Depending on the company, you can fill out a job application in person or online. For some jobs, you need to submit a resume as well. Although a job application and your resume contain similar information, the main difference is that a job application is a legally defendable document. This means the information you include in your job application must be accurate.

Read more: How To Fill Out an Application Form (With Tips for Success)

Applying for a job step-by-step

Here are six easy and practical steps you can follow when applying for a job:

1. Search for jobs in your field

Before you apply for any jobs, you need to know what roles you're interested in and qualified for. To help you determine this, research roles you have the credentials and experience for first. For example, if you have a degree in business administration, search "Jobs for business administration degree" and look through prospective roles. When you've narrowed down your interests, look for open positions on job boards like Indeed. Look for active postings to ensure the job is still available. Save a few of the postings to help you prepare your resume and application.

2. Research hiring companies

Once you have an idea of the available jobs in your area that you're interested in, research those hiring companies. This helps you narrow down your list and apply for jobs at companies you'd be happy to work with. A good place to start your research is on the company's website. Look for their "about" page to learn more about the company's culture, goals, and progress.

Perform a search query on the company's name to look for any events, news, or reviews about the company. Many former employees go online and review their experience with the company to give future employees a better idea of what to expect. See if you can connect with any of these former employees to get an even better idea. Explore your network or social media to talk to these employees and learn more about the company and its culture.

To aid you in your research, consider the following questions when doing your research on potential roles and companies:

  • What does the company do?

  • Who is their client or customer base?

  • Does the company have a good reputation?

  • Do I agree with their goals and morals?

  • What roles do they have available?

  • What duties will you have in this role?

  • Which skills do you need?

3. Prepare your resume for submission

Once you narrow down your list, you can prepare your resume to submit to these jobs. Start by ensuring your resume is up-to-date with your most recent work experience, education, and skills. If your resume is chronological, you should list your most recent education and experience first in each section to highlight them.

Then, optimize your resume for each job. To do this, review the job posting and description to find keywords that come up a lot. Include these keywords throughout your resume to help you stand out over other candidates. This also makes it more likely for hiring managers to see your resume, as many companies use software to filter the applications they receive. If your resume doesn't include certain keywords, the software may reject it.

4. Consider creating a cover letter

After completing your resume, you should consider writing a cover letter. In many cases, you don't require a cover letter, but it is always an advantage. Look through the job posting to see if the employer requested one. If not, it's not necessary but including a cover letter gives you an opportunity to go into more detail about your skills and experience.

When writing a cover letter, try not to be repetitive by including information employers can find in your resume or cover letter. Instead, expand on this information and show prospective employers why you'd be a good fit at their company.

5. Submit your resume and online application

To complete the job application process, you need to follow each employer's specific instructions. Some employers may request just a resume, while some prefer you to fill out a job application form as well. Look through the job posting and potential application form carefully to ensure you follow the instructions exactly. If you don't, employers may not consider your application.

Avoid copying and pasting your resume into any online application form because it can lead to formatting issues. Instead, answer each question thoughtfully to highlight your skills and show employers you're interested in the role. At this step, ensure you include any external documents the employer is requesting as well, such as a cover letter, resume, reference list, or portfolio. You may even have to complete an assessment test at this stage to ensure you have the technical knowledge for the role.

6. Application follow-up

Hiring managers receive a lot of resumes and applications every time they create a job posting. So, while it can be tempting to follow up soon after applying, it's best to wait around two weeks before reaching out to check the status of your application. This gives hiring managers enough time to sort through the applications and makes you look more professional. It also shows them you're passionate about the role and working for them.

The best way to follow up on a job application is to email the hiring manager. This allows them to answer you when they have time and gives them a written reference of your name and information to find your application. If you don't have their email, call the company instead and ask to speak to the hiring manager.


  • How To Write a Job Application Letter Step by Step

  • How To Write a Job Application Email (With Templates and Tips)

Tips for applying for a job

Before applying for a job, consider these tips to better prepare yourself and your application:

  • Review your social media: Some employers may check your social media before offering you an interview or position. They want to ensure you can represent the company well. Review your privacy settings and check that any posts or pictures the public can see are appropriate and professional.

  • Only apply for jobs you're interested in: You may choose to apply for a lot of jobs at once to increase your chances of being hired. Applying for too many positions can cause you to forget information, not put enough detail into your applications, or miss specific instructions. It's better to create quality applications, increasing your chances of hiring managers seeing and considering them.

  • Locate hiring managers online: Look through businesses' social media sites and professional networks to find hiring managers who work at companies you're interested in. This allows you to connect with them and work towards a professional relationship. It also helps you stand out over other candidates and increases your chances of being hired.

  • Find three references beforehand: Many employers ask for professional references either during the application or interview process. Prepare these references ahead of time by reaching out to people you've worked with that know you and your skills well and ask them for a reference. Then, prepare a document with your three references and their contact information to give to employers if they request it.

  • Connect with employees: While looking for hiring managers, look for current employees of the company as well. They may be willing to refer you for a position or at least tell you more about the company and the role you're interested in. Also, if the company hires you, you'll already know some of your future coworkers.

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