When you’ve spotted a great job and you’re preparing your job application, it can be tempting to rush it. You want to get it in quickly and it can all feel a bit tedious. But since your application is your first (and sometimes only) chance to show why you’re suitable for the role, it’s important to pay attention.
If you’re applying for roles and not hearing back from recruiters, you might be making some of these common job application mistakes. So what do you need to avoid?
Mistake 1: Typos – Spellcheck and proofread all your application material meticulously. Spelling and grammatical errors are still a primary reason applicants are rejected, and it’s a mistake that’s easy to avoid. For any online responses, we suggest writing your response in Microsoft Word or Google Docs first, then copying it over once you’re happy. Feel free to use the spellchecker but make sure you also read everything multiple times to correct any incorrect autocorrects! Plus, your spellchecker won’t pick up on everything. Ideally, you should also have someone else read through your materials.
Mistake 2: Ignoring selection criteria requirements – Not addressing the criteria is a key mistake, but reordering them or not adhering to page, word or character limits are also big no-no’s. Don’t be tempted to rewrite or re-order specified criteria. Respond to it exactly as it appears in the job description, address the points they’re looking for and take careful note of page and word limits. You can provide other relevant ‘value add’ information in your resume and/or cover letter.
Mistake 3: Too much information – We regularly receive resumes from clients that are 10 or more pages long. No recruiter will read that much detail so determine what’s most important and cut the rest. Aim for a maximum of 3–5 pages. Use short, sharp paragraphs (5–6 lines) and plenty of white space. Break it up into clearly defined sections using subheadings and bullet points, and if you’ve held multiple (similar) jobs in the one company, consider grouping them rather than giving each one a new heading.
Mistake 4: Incorrect document file format – Make sure you follow any instructions about the document file format to use; for example, some job ads ask you to submit a PDF or MS Word document only. Many recruiters can’t open documents saved in Pages for Mac or other open-source or less-common formats. We recommend sending your document in MS Word format if the ad doesn’t specify.
Mistake 5: Not personalising your cover letter – Taking time to address your letter correctly can make a difference. If there is a name listed in the job ad, do a quick LinkedIn search to find out their correct job title and look at the company’s website to find their address. If no name is provided, add in the company’s address and attention the letter to the Recruitment Manager.
Mistake 6: Not customising your application – It’s important to tweak the content of both your cover letter and resume to suit the job requirements. Clients often ask us to write a ‘general’ resume or cover letter they can use for a range of different roles. By taking a ‘one size fits all’ approach, you miss an important opportunity to show why you’re ideal for the role and you may end up appealing to no one. If other applicants have highlighted more specific and relevant experience and skills, there’s a good chance they’ll be selected for an interview over you.
Mistake 7: Excluding contact details – If a recruiter likes what they see, they may want to call you immediately for a quick telephone screen or to organise an interview. Make it easy for them by including your email and mobile number in a prominent place on all application materials. And ensure your voicemail greeting is professional and friendly. (Read more about why your voicemail greeting may be hindering your chances of getting an interview.)
Many job applications contain mistakes – make yours stand out by eliminating any errors. Check, double check and triple check your application and ensure your content is clear, concise and relevant to the role you’re applying for.
Are you failing to get results from your job applications and feeling frustrated? Our professional writers can help you prepare a winning resume or job application. See our Resume Writing Services to learn more.