The #1 Question to Ask Before Applying for a Job

Last week’s post was all about reviewing and evaluating your job offer. While it is important to ask yourself these questions before signing the offer letter, many of these questions should and need to be asked before you even apply for the position (with the exception of salary and benefits). When a student comes into my office asking for advice on whether or not to apply for a position, I ask them:

If you were offered the position, would you accept it?

If they answer with a fast, “no”

I ask about their interest in/motivation towards applying for this position. A fast no is usually followed by an explanation of needing to find anything in a bad economy, pressure from external constituents, etc. Having just returned from the 2011 Trends in Recruiting Conference, I can confidently share that hiring is up. As such, if you have zero desire to work for a certain company, why waste time (yours and theirs) going through the process and take the opportunity away from a peer who is genuinely interested in securing employment with them?

If they answer with a maybe or slow, “no”

I often suggest doing some additional company research to measure the fit between you and the organization/position. In addition to the great tips provided in previous-mentioned article/link, see if you have anyone in your network who works within the company and set-up an informational interview to learn more about their role and the work culture. Also, if the organization is doing any on-campus presentations, make sure to attend as it will give you the opportunity to learn more about the company and position while interacting with their employees.

If they answer with a yes (of any speed)

Apply away…and good luck!

As a college student who is, at the minimum, juggling school with their full-time job search, you have a lot going on. As such, it’s important to work smarter, not harder. One way of doing this is to ask yourself this question early on. I always tell my students that life is too short to be at a job you hate. Do your company research ahead of time to ensure you find a position that is a good fit, both personally and professionally.


Heather serves as a Career Advisor for Loyola University Chicago’s Career Development Center. In her role, she assists students and alumni with their overall career development through individual counseling, group workshops, and in the classroom via her Career and Life Planning Lab. Heather’s areas of expertise within the career space include networking, social media engagement, ePortfolios, resumes, and personal branding. Prior to working in Career Services, Heather worked for Sony Music in the areas of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion.She received her BA in Communication & Culture from Indiana University and her MA in Higher Education & Student Affairs from The Ohio State University – GO BUCKS! You can connect with Heather on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Related posts:

  1. Job Offer Received…Now What?
  2. No Internship? No Problem!
  3. The Holidays Loom…Can You Answer the Job/Internship Question?

Leave a Reply

You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Dan Schawbel

    Dan Schawbel, the founder of the Student Branding Blog, is a world renowned personal branding expert, the international bestselling author of Me 2.0, as well as the publisher of the Personal Branding Blog.

  • Connect With Dan

  • Chelsea Rice

    Chelsea Rice is the editor-in-chief of the Student Branding Blog. She began her work for just before graduating from Boston University, where she studied journalism and minored in international relations.

  • Connect With Chelsea

  • Recognition

    • Recommended resource - The Washington Post
    • "A terrific way for students to learn about branding" - Lindsey Pollak
    • "Worth checking out" - Psychology Today
    • HR World's top 100 management blogs