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Employers ask for information about job candidates in a variety of ways.  When reading a job ad, pay special attention to any instructions about how to apply, and make sure to include any documents the employer requests.

Below are some of the documents an employer may ask for, along with some tips for preparing each type successfully.

Some employers will only accept information electronically. Others will only accept completed job applications. Some will not accept phone calls about openings. Other employers will want additional material, like work samples or references. Don't be disqualified for an opening because you didn't follow the instructions.

Common methods of applying for jobs include:

  • Job applications. Many employers have a standardized form which they require all job applicants to complete. They use this method to make sure that they have the same information about each applicant. If you're asked to complete an application, make sure you follow directions, provide all requested information, and write neatly. Find other Web sites about Job Applications in the Career Resource Library.
  • Printed cover letters and resumes. Many job ads ask applicants to mail these documents. Find out how to make your resumes and cover letters stand out in a crowd.
  • Electronic cover letters and resumes. Some employers will only accept these documents electronically. They use software that electronically scans resumes and cover letters for key skills and experience. Understanding how to include vital keywords in your document is becoming more and more critical. You may also be asked to e-mail copies of your resume and related documents.
  • Letters of reference. These are written evaluations of your work performance and work habits. Your present or previous supervisor, manager, fellow team member, or teacher can write one at your request. However, some employers will not give written letters due to liability issues. It never hurts to ask for one, though, especially if you feel you've demonstrated good work or study habits.
  • Portfolio. A portfolio is a personalized collection of items that illustrates your skills and experience. It might include work samples, letters of recommendation, a resume, school transcripts, or awards and honors. Visit other sites to learn more about Portfolio Development in the Career Resource Library.

Above all, your goal is to communicate your education, skills, and past accomplishments to the employer in a clear, straightforward manner. It's up to you to show why you'd be a good fit for the job.

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