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How to Bring Order to the Chaos of Job Applications

August 8, 2023
How to Bring Order to the Chaos of Job Applications

Apply¬≠ing for jobs can be a daunt¬≠ing task. It could take any¬≠where from 20‚ÄČ‚Äď‚ÄČ200 appli¬≠ca¬≠tions to get an offer. It can be chaot¬≠ic to orga¬≠nize every¬≠thing, stress¬≠ful to be con¬≠stant¬≠ly updat¬≠ing your cov¬≠er let¬≠ter tem¬≠plate to make sure it‚Äôs ‚Äč‚Äúper¬≠son¬≠al¬≠ized‚ÄĚ for a com¬≠pa¬≠ny, and men¬≠tal¬≠ly tax¬≠ing to be prepar¬≠ing for hun¬≠dreds of white¬≠board problems. 

photo of Rohit
Rohit Kartha, one of our Asso¬≠ciate Devel¬≠op¬≠ers cur¬≠rent¬≠ly part of our 2023 pro¬≠gram, has recent¬≠ly expe¬≠ri¬≠enced the dif¬≠fi¬≠cult appli¬≠ca¬≠tion process. He will share some sim¬≠ple, action¬≠able ways you can bring order to the chaos of job applications. 

photo of David
David Craw¬≠ford, one of our Soft¬≠ware Devel¬≠op¬≠ers, will also include his advice on how appli¬≠ca¬≠tion process¬≠es can reveal a company‚Äôs cul¬≠ture, and cov¬≠er letters.


Final­ly, Jeff Kloost­er­man, Head of Client Ser­vices, will pro­vide some insight into what we look for in resumes.
We hope that this can give you more con­fi­dence as you apply for jobs, while also giv­ing you some insight into the care Michi­gan Soft­ware Labs places on our hir­ing process.

Orga­ni­za­tion #

ROHIT: The first thing we‚Äôd like to talk about to help bring some order to your job appli¬≠ca¬≠tion process is orga¬≠niz¬≠ing the appli¬≠ca¬≠tions them¬≠selves. With poten¬≠tial¬≠ly hun¬≠dreds of appli¬≠ca¬≠tions and posi¬≠tions to keep track of, hav¬≠ing an orga¬≠nized spread¬≠sheet might be a good idea. With a row for each posi¬≠tion applied, you can employ a sim¬≠ple col¬≠or key for dif¬≠fer¬≠ent stages of the inter¬≠view process. There can be sev¬≠er¬≠al phas¬≠es that are worth clas¬≠si¬≠fy¬≠ing includ¬≠ing Hire¬≠Vues, Online Assess¬≠ments, and tech¬≠ni¬≠cal and behav¬≠ioral inter¬≠views. There‚Äôs a lot of great tem¬≠plates out there, one exam¬≠ple is this one from Spread¬≠Sheet¬≠Point:

image of a spreadsheetAfter you‚Äôve orga¬≠nized your appli¬≠ca¬≠tions, if you pay atten¬≠tion to the type of appli¬≠ca¬≠tion process¬≠es they use, you may begin to see a trend. The ben¬≠e¬≠fit of using a spread¬≠sheet isn‚Äôt just for the orga¬≠ni¬≠za¬≠tion itself, but also to keep track of pri¬≠or¬≠i¬≠ties and jobs that real¬≠ly excite you. For exam¬≠ple, some com¬≠pa¬≠nies ask you to upload a resume, and then rewrite your entire resume again in a form. Some com¬≠pa¬≠nies have 10 dif¬≠fer¬≠ent inter¬≠views dur¬≠ing their process. Some com¬≠pa¬≠nies don‚Äôt require cov¬≠er let¬≠ters. Some com¬≠pa¬≠nies take a very long time to respond, or out¬≠right ghost appli¬≠cants. Oth¬≠er com¬≠pa¬≠nies are high¬≠ly com¬≠mu¬≠nica¬≠tive and trans¬≠par¬≠ent. What kind of inter¬≠view are you okay with going through? What type of process do you prefer?

Cat­e­gories #

animated GIF of HireVue marketingSev¬≠er¬≠al com¬≠pa¬≠nies use Hire¬≠Vue as an ini¬≠tial step in the inter¬≠view process. With a video inter¬≠view for¬≠mat, appli¬≠cants have a cou¬≠ple min¬≠utes to respond to prompt¬≠ed ques¬≠tions. It might be worth it to sep¬≠a¬≠rate out inter¬≠view types like these in your spread¬≠sheet and com¬≠plete them when pre¬≠ferred, as they pro¬≠vide a pre¬≠dictable inter¬≠view struc¬≠ture. Any com¬≠pa¬≠ny using a plat¬≠form like this won‚Äôt be such an unknown for you when inter¬≠view¬≠ing with them.

Process #

DAVID: When think¬≠ing about the pile of appli¬≠ca¬≠tions you‚Äôve been sub¬≠mit¬≠ting, and pos¬≠si¬≠bly the frus¬≠tra¬≠tions that you‚Äôve had, let‚Äôs con¬≠sid¬≠er the oth¬≠er end of the expe¬≠ri¬≠ence. Com¬≠pa¬≠nies have to deal with 20‚ÄČ‚Äď‚ÄČ200 appli¬≠ca¬≠tions as well and make sure that they‚Äôre mak¬≠ing the right hir¬≠ing deci¬≠sion. How they deal with this is incred¬≠i¬≠bly telling of their cul¬≠ture. What kind of com¬≠pa¬≠ny are you look¬≠ing for? The answer to that ques¬≠tion can depend high¬≠ly on where you‚Äôre at in your career or life. 

In the past, I‚Äôve been in sit¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tions where I didn‚Äôt have the lux¬≠u¬≠ry to pick and choose the ide¬≠al com¬≠pa¬≠ny I‚Äôd like to work for, I just need¬≠ed a job. But what about when you do have that lux¬≠u¬≠ry? When‚Äôs the last time you‚Äôve reflect¬≠ed on the inter¬≠view process, and how it might reveal the cul¬≠ture of the com¬≠pa¬≠ny? When a com¬≠pa¬≠ny isn‚Äôt very respon¬≠sive, or has an incred¬≠i¬≠bly cum¬≠ber¬≠some hir¬≠ing process, what does that say about their day-to-day work? Are you pre¬≠pared to nav¬≠i¬≠gate a busi¬≠ness that isn‚Äôt high¬≠ly com¬≠mu¬≠nica¬≠tive, doesn‚Äôt have con¬≠crete process¬≠es, or needs a lot of help? 

Some¬≠times these types of com¬≠pa¬≠nies are exact¬≠ly where we‚Äôd like to be, but not all the time. Con¬≠sid¬≠er your expe¬≠ri¬≠ence while apply¬≠ing for a com¬≠pa¬≠ny, the inter¬≠views you go through with them, and what that means for the cul¬≠ture you want to be a part of.

Cov­er Let­ters #

DAVID: If a com¬≠pa¬≠ny requires them as part of their process, cov¬≠er let¬≠ters can get a bad rep¬≠u¬≠ta¬≠tion if you have to write 200 of them in a row. They all start look¬≠ing the same, and fol¬≠low the same bor¬≠ing tem¬≠plate. How do you know if you‚Äôre stand¬≠ing out? 

My only advice, if you‚Äôre already using a tem¬≠plate, is to quote the com¬≠pa¬≠ny in the let¬≠ter. Have a por¬≠tion of your tem¬≠plate ready to have a quotable seg¬≠ment. Does the com¬≠pa¬≠ny have a blog? Take 5 min¬≠utes to find a quote in a post that com¬≠pli¬≠ments your mes¬≠sage. If they don‚Äôt have a blog, quote their mis¬≠sion state¬≠ment, or social media. Do they have none of these? Ask your¬≠self if that‚Äôs either the type of com¬≠pa¬≠ny you don‚Äôt want to work for, or if it‚Äôs an opportunity. 

A few years ago I worked as a devel¬≠op¬≠er at Red Tech¬≠nolo¬≠gies, a freight bro¬≠ker¬≠age com¬≠pa¬≠ny that had a blog writ¬≠ten for truck dri¬≠vers. This type of blog was not for soft¬≠ware devel¬≠op¬≠ment, but it was a great oppor¬≠tu¬≠ni¬≠ty. Below is a snip¬≠pet from my cov¬≠er let¬≠ter to them, as an exam¬≠ple of one way you could quote a blog:

‚ĶTo keep improv¬≠ing prod¬≠ucts at a cer¬≠tain point requires ret¬≠ro¬≠spec¬≠tives, and fol¬≠low¬≠ing through with test¬≠ing plans. In your blog post, Day in the Life of a Truck Dri¬≠ver, it was writ¬≠ten that ‚Äč‚ÄúOne of the most impor¬≠tant lessons [Leonard] learned is patience as traf¬≠fic and bad dri¬≠vers are the most com¬≠mon issues he con¬≠sis¬≠tent¬≠ly faces.‚ÄĚ This stood out to me, because it brings out the truth of the neces¬≠si¬≠ty of soft¬≠ware test¬≠ing. We‚Äôve all expe¬≠ri¬≠enced the longer traf¬≠fic stages of devel¬≠op¬≠ment, or the unpre¬≠dictable nature of bad dri¬≠vers in the form of bugs and project set¬≠backs. But with extra time and patience placed into test¬≠ing ear¬≠ly and often, with each pro¬≠to¬≠type comes a well val¬≠i¬≠dat¬≠ed prod¬≠uct that has a clear path to con¬≠tin¬≠ue improving‚Ķ

At this point in my career, I want¬≠ed to empha¬≠size soft¬≠ware test¬≠ing. So I found a way I could relate that to the company‚Äôs own con¬≠tent. If you‚Äôre using a cov¬≠er let¬≠ter tem¬≠plate, first deeply under¬≠stand the nar¬≠ra¬≠tive you‚Äôre sup¬≠port¬≠ing, and then quote each com¬≠pa¬≠ny in a mean¬≠ing¬≠ful way. You nev¬≠er know: you could end up quot¬≠ing the exact per¬≠son review¬≠ing your application.

Resumes #

Our last piece of advice is for resumes. For this post, we don‚Äôt believe that telling you what you should have on a resume is com¬≠plete¬≠ly help¬≠ful. Instead, we sim¬≠ply want¬≠ed to show you two dif¬≠fer¬≠ent resumes. We want¬≠ed to share these with you to help encour¬≠age you and give you insight into what type of resume we expect from devel¬≠op¬≠ers at var¬≠i¬≠ous stages in their career.

The first resume is for Rohit, who got the job at Michi­gan Soft­ware Labs as an Asso­ciate Soft­ware Devel­op­er, and is cur­rent­ly in college.
image of Rohit's resume

The sec¬≠ond resume is for David, who got the job at Michi¬≠gan Soft¬≠ware Labs as a Soft¬≠ware Devel¬≠op¬≠er and has sev¬≠er¬≠al years of experience.
image of David's resume

JEFF: What I look for in a resume varies from posi¬≠tion to posi¬≠tion depend¬≠ing on the expe¬≠ri¬≠ence lev¬≠el we are hir¬≠ing for at the time. I will often end up read¬≠ing a resume from bot¬≠tom to top. This is because I am more inter¬≠est¬≠ed in how a can¬≠di¬≠date got to where they are today than I am in exact¬≠ly the per¬≠son or employ¬≠ee they are right this minute. I see can¬≠di¬≠dates through the lens of ‚Äč‚ÄúIs Michi¬≠gan Soft¬≠ware Labs a good next step for their sto¬≠ry?‚ÄĚ At the root of this, I am try¬≠ing to answer the ques¬≠tion of whether this indi¬≠vid¬≠ual, with the right sup¬≠port from our team, can grow into the per¬≠son we need with¬≠in the time¬≠frame that we need them.

Per¬≠son¬≠al¬≠ly, pro¬≠vid¬≠ing con¬≠text for how you have worked on teams in the past is great con¬≠text! If you are new¬≠er in your career and pur¬≠su¬≠ing an intern¬≠ship or your first job out of col¬≠lege, giv¬≠ing me insight into how you have been adapt¬≠able to new teams, sit¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tions, or tech¬≠nolo¬≠gies in the past is super help¬≠ful to help me think about how you might apply the same skills here. This is true even if that past expe¬≠ri¬≠ence is as a life¬≠guard, a cad¬≠dy, or a vari¬≠ety of group projects. We can (and do!) teach a lot of project specifics when you get here.

What’s Next? #

While the dif¬≠fer¬≠ent advice we‚Äôve shared won‚Äôt guar¬≠an¬≠tee you a job, we believe that fol¬≠low¬≠ing them will help bring some clar¬≠i¬≠ty to the chaot¬≠ic appli¬≠ca¬≠tion process¬≠es you might be going through. If you can improve just a cou¬≠ple small areas of your job search through some of these points, it will be worth it in the long run in order to reduce some stress and increase your con¬≠fi¬≠dence and consistency.

Now, if you’re inter­est­ed in work­ing for Michi­gan Soft­ware Labs, we want to help you answer some of the ques­tions we shared in this post. Regard­ing plat­forms we use for hir­ing, how many inter­views it takes, and what type of care and con­sid­er­a­tion we place on the process, our hir­ing steps are the following:

  • A friend¬≠ly, intro¬≠duc¬≠to¬≠ry chat with our Head of Peo¬≠ple Oper¬≠a¬≠tions & Tal¬≠ent Development
  • A ‚Äč‚Äútech¬≠ni¬≠cal‚ÄĚ Zoom inter¬≠view to delve into your expe¬≠ri¬≠en¬≠tial skills and indus¬≠try knowledge
  • Addi¬≠tion¬≠al ref¬≠er¬≠ence checks
  • An onsite inter¬≠view and office tour
  • A meet¬≠ing with the Man¬≠ag¬≠ing Partners

We pri¬≠mar¬≠i¬≠ly use Bam¬≠booHR, and only ask for a resume. We also have a write¬≠up on our careers page that has more details about our process.

If you‚Äôre inter¬≠est¬≠ed in any of our open¬≠ings, we hope to speak with you soon!

David Crawford
David Crawford
Software Developer

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