When you’re applying for new roles, you can often be so involved in the process that it’s difficult to see what you might be doing wrong. If you are applying for roles and not hearing back from recruiters, you are not alone. See if you’re making any of our top 5 mistakes and take some steps to fix them before submitting your next job application.
MISTAKE # 1: not spell checking/proof reading all your application material – apparently this is still one of the primary reasons why applicants get rejected. There is no excuse for spelling or grammatical errors in your application. And don’t forget the cover letter and any online forms – often you’ll have to provide a 100 or 200 word response in an online form – we strongly recommend creating this in MS Word first then copying and pasting it over once you’re happy. With all your application material, use the spell checker by all means but read it yourself as well to correct any incorrect autocorrects! Ideally, once you’re happy, you should also have someone else read it for you.
MISTAKE # 2: not addressing key criteria – again this is a common mistake. All government positions require a formal response to set selection criteria, however many private companies are also including selection criteria as part of their requirements. Even if there is no specification to address criteria – you should make a point to address the key points in the job ad. A great place to start is the bullet points in almost every ad – under ‘Responsibilities’ or ‘What You’ll Be Doing’ – that will give you a hint of what to highlight, then look at the points under ‘What you Need’ or ‘Skills and Capabilities’ – and make sure you’ve clearly shown how you meet these.
MISTAKE # 3: going into too much detail – Resumes need space and clarity – sometimes it’s hard to describe what you did in a couple of lines but you need to try. I regularly receive 8 – 12 page resumes from clients, which is far too long. No recruiter will read that much detail so you need to get serious about deciding what’s important. We aim for 3-4 pages maximum and you should too. Have clearly defined sections and if you held multiple jobs in the one company – group them rather than giving each one a new section.
MISTAKE # 4: applying for jobs outside your area of expertise – if you want to apply for several different types of roles and think you’ve got the capability to do the job then by all means go for it. But – you need to modify your content. I have had several clients recently wanting to change careers but they’re not sure exactly where they’d like to head. Others just need a job and apply for roles that they’re probably not ideally suited for. I have had clients ask me to write a resume to suit very diverse roles – and this simply isn’t possible. The problem with this approach is that one resume is never going to appeal to the recruiters of two very different roles – so by taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you won’t appeal to either. Decide on your target and go for it – or create multiple resumes that specifically target each area.
MISTAKE # 5: not including your contact details: if a recruiter likes what they see, they’ll often want to call you immediately and either do a quick telephone screen, or organise an interview time. Make it easy for them – include your email and mobile phone number so you can be contacted and make sure you have a friendly and professional voicemail message.
Check, double check and triple check your application – be clear and concise and make sure it’s absolutely error free, with the content tailored towards the role you are applying for.