Potential employers often want more than cover letters and resumes; they want to know how well you express yourself, handle spontaneous tasks and follow directions. If you want to nail your job application essay, don’t rush. Take your time and double-check your work. Remember without making a good impression on paper, you won’t get the chance to make an impression in person.
Follow Instructions Pay close attention to the instructions. Employers often use job application essays, in part, to determine whether you’ll be a good fit for their company. If you go off-topic in your essay, they’ll know without meeting you that you have trouble following directions. As you prepare your essay, make sure you answer the question they’re asking no more, no less. Also, stick with the parameters set, as far as the length, formatting and font. If no parameters are set, try to make your essay no longer than one page. Your potential employer wants to read an essay, not a term paper. Brainstorm
Take notes on your essay before you begin writing the actual draft. Perhaps you have several ideas about how to begin, or several angles from which you’d like to approach the essay topic. Use your brainstorm session to try out different ideas and find the one that suits you best. Outline Your Essay
As the architect of your essay, you’ll need a solid blueprint. Use a few sentences apiece to summarize your thesis statement, your introductory paragraph, your supporting paragraphs, and your conclusion. Use the outline like a map to determine whether your essay is headed in the right direction. Ask whether your introduction supports your thesis. Do the supporting paragraphs support the introduction? Does the conclusion summarize the main points? Looking at the bare bones of your essay will help you understand what works and what doesn’t, and what needs to be added or taken away. Be Specific
Make clear and concise statements in your essay to keep your potential employer’s interest. Refrain from using vague phrases. For example, instead of writing, “I’m a good employee and I love to work,” write, “I showed that I love to work when I served as chairperson for ABC Company’s weekend initiative — we successfully lobbied to have the offices opened during the weekends, so employees can catch up on paperwork and meetings without the distraction of clients calling.” Show and Prove
Your job application essay should provide clear examples to back up each of your claims. Instead of, “I’m a great salesperson,” say, “In my last position, I had the highest record in my entire region for three consecutive quarters.” Instead of, “I’m really good with people,” say, “Due to my outstanding service skills, I had the highest number of repeat customers in the district. People requested me by name.” Be Professional
Even if you are given creative license, recognize that this essay is your potential employer’s first glimpse of your work persona. Don’t put anything in the essay that you wouldn’t want to say to her face. Treat the essay like an interview and write accordingly.