To accomplish this major feat, you need to know a few things. Because learning this shouldn’t take longer than the actual application, we’ve kept it short, sweet, and to the point.
1. Decide if it’s really worth it.
Sit down, and for five minutes think about what this application could lead to—what are the possibilities? If it’s worth a lot later, then it’s definitely worth a few hours of intense work right now. If you don’t care very much, then don’t do it. You’ll only be annoyed with yourself later if you think you “should" write it.
2. Drop everything.
This really means everything. There is no cooking dinner while you’re doing this, no talking to your best friend via Skype. It’s PB&J, a phone on silent mode, and sign out of Facebook, Skype, and whatever else floats your boat. This is not boat-floating pleasure time, it’s hard-core crunch time for you to show what you’re made of.
3. Write a list of everything that needs to be done AND a second list of what needs to go in the envelope.
Use brightly colored paper, as chances are everything else will be on white paper. To keep things organized, you can keep this checklist paper-clipped to the “completed” materials until it goes in the mail. Make sure you this paper gets tossed when you’re done so it isn’t in the envelope when you mail it off!
4. Find out where the closest post office is and how late they are open.
If you won’t make it during regular business hours, find a post office that is open late. Find this out now if you have applications coming up.
5. Keep it simple.
Your best bet, whether it be the cover letter, updating your resume, or other additional materials is to keep it simple. No bells, no whistles. Rely on the good, solid work you’ve already accomplished.
And speaking of updating your resume, this is not the time to do a major overhaul. Make it work the way it is, and when you’re done with this application, go back and do the major overhaul right away. That way, you’ll have it easier the next time you do an application at the last minute. You know this last-minute thing will surely happen again, so just do it. You will thank yourself for it later.
6. Get any 3rd-party materials, like recommendation letters, ASAP.
Also, make good on the favors you owe others when they need last-minute help. People remember this and they remember it well. Being reliable in the favor department makes you memorable to good people.
Exception: when disorganized Darla from down the hall needs something from you for an application for the 5th Friday in a row and you have a hot date: say no. Good fences, good neighbors. ‘Nuff said.
7. Call in favors.
Leave urgent messages if you have to.
8. Trust that you will get it finished on time.
Having faith that you will get it done makes it so much easier--and it will be stellar!
When you’ve heard back, whether your application is accepted or not, be sure to say thank you to the people that helped you. It does matter that you say thank you; people have spent their valuable time helping you and they deserve to be recognized for it. (What's the best thank you you've ever given someone who wrote a letter of recommendation for you? Share it with us here!)