An on-line job application is your first impression with potential employers. Being conscious and deliberate about this crucial first step can help target your job search process.  As you strive to learn and make each application a bit better than the last, you may find that applying for jobs can be an exciting chance to move your life and work to another level.

As talent advocates in the creative business, we have observed some consistent patterns as to which job applications are more likely to open doors. Here are a few best practices, as well as common mistakes to avoid – knowing these can save you a lot of time in your job search.

DO: Apply For Jobs You Want, and Tailor Each Application

If you must choose between quantity and quality of applications, go with quality every time. It’s easy to apply for jobs online – every hiring manager who posts an ad is likely to get deluged with applications. To get noticed in this flood, it is essential that you pay attention to the text and subtext of the ad.

Craft your profile so it aligns with the hiring manager’s expectations and present yourself in a way that communicates that you want not just any job, you want this job. If you are mindful about your application, it will stand out from the vast majority of those who simply apply for as many jobs as possible, as quickly as possible.

DON’T: Spray and Pray

New job-hunting interfaces with one-click “Easy Apply” features make it possible to apply for dozens of jobs per hour, but that doesn’t necessarily make this a constructive practice. Make sure you exclusively apply for jobs that you understand and that you know are a good match for your goals, skills, and expectations. Always show enough consideration for the time of hiring managers and recruiters. Target the companies that you are really interested in. Your thoughtfulness will pay dividends over the course of your job search.

DO: Present Yourself Well

When creating your resume, cover letter, and other application materials, maintain a positive mindset and present yourself, your skills, and your accomplishments in the most appropriate light. You’ve worked hard to get where you are, and you’re looking for the best opportunity to contribute and to take your career to the next level.

DON’T: Fib or Exaggerate

If you tell the truth, it’s easy to remember! Duplicity isn’t worth the mental energy, and it is easy enough to find the truth in our super-connected electronic age. If you mislead about your capabilities, you may find yourself in an interview for which you are not qualified, which is scary and embarrassing. Be realistic and honest, and you will make more progress in your career over time.

DO: Make Your Application User-Friendly

Keep it short – resumes of one or two pages, and cover letters of no more than five succinct paragraphs, are more likely to be read in full. For resumes, use lists with bullets, clear headings, and easy-to-read typography. Be mindful of applicant tracking software, and use common industry terms and keywords that are likely to capture the attention of robots as well as humans.

DON’T: Go Overboard With Style

Unless you’re a graphic designer showing off a particular aesthetic sensibility, stick with a simple, minimalist resume that is easy on the eyes. Don’t include pictures, colors, flourishes, competing typefaces, or other distractions. Your resume should be functional first. Focus on communicating your value for maximum efficiency and impact.

Contact Artisan Creative today to learn more about how you can make your application stand out. And read our advice on how to perfect your portfolio and how to have a great interview to help land your dream job.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 459th issue of our weekly a.blog.