How To Apply for a Job

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Photo: Eric Cahan / Getty Images

Do you need to start a job search but aren't sure how to begin applying? What's the best way to apply for a job? How you apply for jobs depends on the type of position you are seeking and how the company accepts applications. 

You'll be able to apply online for jobs with most large employers. Depending on the job and the employer, using an app on your smartphone or tablet may be another option for submitting an application. Some companies, especially smaller ones, ask applicants to email their resume and cover letter. And for some jobs, especially part-time, hospitality, and retail positions, you may be able to apply in person. 


Before you start job hunting, you’ll need an email account you can use for job searching, a phone number employers can use to reach you, and a computer, phone, or tablet.

Here's information on the best options for applying for jobs, the information you will need to complete job applications, how to apply, and the top sites to use for an effective job search.

Key Takeaways

  • You can apply for jobs online, by email, via an app on a smartphone or tablet, and in person.
  • When you apply for jobs, you’ll need to know your employment history, including the companies you've worked for and the dates you were employed.
  • Preparing a comprehensive list of all the information you need to apply will streamline the application process.

Information You Need To Apply for a Job

When you apply for a job—whether you do so via an online job application, an emailed resume and cover letter, or a paper application—you will need to provide certain types of information

Most employers require the following:

Personal Information: Name, home address, phone number, and email address.

Employment History: Employer, address, phone number, email address, supervisor, job title and job responsibilities, and employment dates for each job you’ve held.

Educational History: School(s) attended, degrees, graduation dates, and certifications.

References: Some employers request the names and phone numbers of references as part of the application process; others wait until they are interviewing candidates.

Optional: You may also be asked about the hours and dates you can work and when you can start.


What’s most important is following the instructions in the job posting when you apply so your application won't be dismissed without being considered. 

Get Ready To Apply

Preparing your application materials in advance will streamline the process. If you create a master list that includes your contact information, education, and employment history, you’ll be able to use it to easily and quickly apply for jobs. 

For some jobs, you’ll need a resume and cover letter. You can create a comprehensive version of your resume that includes your work history, education, certifications, professional achievements, skills, and projects. Then, when you apply for jobs, edit it so it’s a match for the specific position you’re applying for.

Be prepared to write a cover letter that also matches the job, highlighting your most relevant qualifications for the position.


Use CareerOneStop’s Practice Job Application to get ready to apply. You’ll be prompted to add the same kind of information employers will ask you for. When you’re done, you can save or print your responses to help you when you're ready to complete real job applications.

Find Job Listings

Once you’re ready to apply, the next step is to find available jobs that are a match for your skills and interests. You don’t need to use every job search site. Instead, focus on the best job sites and streamline your search. 

The top job sites have advanced search options so you can get the listings that are a close match to what you’re looking for. The application process is simple, and you may be able to store your resume online to make it easy to apply to multiple jobs.

CareerOneStop has tools that will help you find jobs fast:

  • Job Finder (searches jobs from NLx, CareerBuilder, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter)
  • Find a Remote Job (finds jobs that won't require you to work on-site)

Apply for Jobs Online

When you're looking for a new job, many of your applications will be completed online either via a job site or directly on an employer’s website. In order to complete online job applications, you'll need an email address, Internet access, an up-to-date resume, and a cover letter (for some jobs).

Online application systems typically ask for your contact information, educational background, and employment history. You will need to know when you worked at your previous jobs. You may also be asked what days and hours you are available to work.

Some sites have an option to upload and store a resume so that you can use it to apply for multiple jobs.

Apply for Jobs on Company Websites

Company websites are among the best sources of job listings, especially if you know what companies you are interested in working for. You can go directly to the source and search for and apply for jobs directly on many company websites. At most company sites, you can apply online for positions at all levels—from part-time hourly jobs to top management positions.

Career information is usually listed in the "Careers" or the "About Us" section of the site. Follow the instructions for searching for and applying to jobs online.


Applying to a company that hires directly can be one of the best ways to get hired. 

Use Your Phone or Tablet

You don’t necessarily need a computer to search for a job. Many job sites and company websites are optimized so you can apply for jobs using a smartphone or tablet, and some job sites have apps you can download to search for and apply for positions.

For example, CareerBuilder, Dice, Glassdoor, Indeed, Monster, and ZipRecruiter all have apps for both iOS and Android devices.

Send a Job Application by Email

When you are using email to apply for jobs, all your communications should be as professional as they would be if you were sending written correspondence. Your email messages need to be properly formatted and should include a relevant subject line and your signature.

Here's advice on how to submit job applications via email.

Apply for Jobs in Person

Here’s what to bring when you apply for jobs in person:

  • Schools and dates attended
  • Names and addresses of previous employers
  • Dates of employment for each employer
  • A list of three references with contact information
  • Copies of your resume
  • Your availability (when you can start and the days and hours you are available to work)


Bring a notepad to keep track of where you have applied, a pen to complete paper applications, and a portfolio or folder to hold your paperwork.

Track Your Applications

Keeping track of your applications and managing your job search is almost as important as finding job opportunities and submitting your application.

Especially if you’re applying for a lot of jobs, you’ll want to be able to track the job, the company, and where and when you applied. Here are 10 easy ways to organize your job search.

Follow Up With Employers

You have applied for a job with a company you'd like to interview with and you haven't heard back.

What do you do next? You can either wait patiently, presuming the employer will contact you if they are interested, or you can choose to follow up with the employer. Following up will show the company that you’re engaged and interested in the role, but bear in mind that you may not get a response from them.

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  1. CareerOneStop. “Job Applications.”

  2. CareerOneStop. "Online Applications."

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