Five Job Application Mistakes

Monday, Jul. 5th 2010 1:53 PM

In a tough economy you cannot afford to make any mistakes with your application packet.

Over the past three years, good-paying jobs have become exceedingly tough to come by, even for those with a college diploma. Unfortunately, many grads are making the application process more difficult for themselves.

The current recession has rendered some traditional job search practices obsolete. Those who fail to take notice of those changes are doomed to a fruitless search.

1. Create a Unique Cover Letter for Each Application

The concept of creating one cover letter then cutting and pasting salutations is a definite no-no today. Because computers make it easy to fire off countless professional-looking documents with a simple change of the header, companies are now looking beyond the appearance.

iStock_000000474560XSmallIt remains true that a professional cover letter remains critical, a simple spelling or grammatical mistake can get your whole application packet tossed into the recycling pile. Employing your spell check and grammar features can help, but you still may want to have someone with proof-reading skills double check that element for you.

However, even more importantly, the content of the letter matters today. Many companies now use automated tracking devices to initially examine application packets submitted online. Those devices first hone in on the key words and phrases from the job description of the opening.

Those scanners can be programmed to search for the name of the company in the body of the letter as well as some of the company’s specific attributes. Your letter must directly address and mention these key elements.

Furthermore, your letter must indicate why you are the right person for the opening. Otherwise your entire application packet could be tossed before your resume is reviewed.

2. Create a Unique, Easy to Review Resume

As with your cover letter, the content of your resume must also match up with the scanning devices. Again, creating one generic document will not cut it – your resume must match up with the company and its respective job opening.

While you may think highlighting academic awards from high school or college will get you noticed, they are secondary to a resume featuring relevant content. Having those respective key words and phrases in your goal statement and when relevant, in your work or academic experiences, are critical in getting your resume past any businesses employing scanners in the search process.

However, to ensure that your document passes muster with those employing the old-fashioned personal touch, it is helpful to have a concise, skimmable resume. Make it professional (free of typos and grammatical mistakes), but also make it brief, relevant and too the point.

3. Provide References

Once upon a time, it was copacetic to end your document with the generic phrase: references available on request. No more. Today’s job market demands that you provide all the necessary information the recruiter or human resource professional needs to evaluate you appropriately.

Most employers will do some homework before inviting people in for an interview and that homework may well include checking references first. If you have not provided that information and other worthy candidates have, the recruiter will no doubt start with those who have provided the info. If they are happy with what they find out, they simply will not take the time to contact you.

Lastly, for new grads, such a ‘references available on request line’ may be seen as an attempt to hide the fact that you may not have any quality ones to list.

4. Take and Make the Offered Interview Time

It is important to understand that an interview request is a clear indication that you have survived the initial review process. That means this company has interest in you.

iStock_000002144669XSmallUnless you have another job interview scheduled at the time offered, make every effort to work the offered time into your schedule. If you are fortunate, you may get offered a couple of options.

Some grads think such flexibility sends a message that they have little going on in their lives, especially on the career front. But in reality making yourself available sends the message you are truly interested in this particular opening.

And whatever you do, don’t be late!

5. Review the Company Web Site

It is imperative that you take the time to review the company web site. First, a brief scan can be critical to providing you those key words and phrases that will make your cover letter and resume stand out.

Even more important, if you get an interview opportunity you will be asked questions about the company. Those questions are designed to let hiring managers know if you have done some homework on both the company and the prospective opening.

Once again, the key is to create a good impression. Knowing about the company and understanding their needs once again sends the message you are truly interested in working for them.


Posted by Thomas | in Career Planning | No Comments »

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