With so many people searching for work it can be costly to make mistakes in the application process. Here is a short list of some of those mistakes you should avoid if you want to increase your chances of being contacted by the recruiter.
- Grammar and spelling. Why take the time to meticulously comb through your resume and cover letter for correct spelling and punctuation and then throw your information onto the application carelessly? Give your application and all
correspondence—i.e. emails and voice mail messages—proper attention so that you continue to make a good impression throughout the interview process.
- Appearance of resume. If your resume lacks uniformity–such as various fonts for each job title, clarity or pertinent information–many recruiters will keep looking for other candidates. Perhaps you even chose a font you thought was appropriate but it really sends the wrong message (think Comic Sans). While it might be fun for a flyer, it’s definitely not the way to go to prove you’re ready to embark on a serious career.
- N/A – Answering ‘not applicable’ to the question: Why did you leave your last job? It IS definitely applicable. Another answer that is equally poor is ‘found another job’. That is obvious. Otherwise you’d still be employed with the company in question. A recruiter wants to know if you were seeking more money, more responsibility, advancement opportunities or you just didn’t like your co-worker’s choice of ties.
- Job Gaps—Job gaps are not necessarily a bad thing. There are several reasons why candidates might not be currently employed: stay-at-home parent, lay-off, relocation or full-time student, for instance. If you quit a job and did not line another one up beforehand you should have a strong reason why. Recruiters might wonder if you really want to work or if you make good decisions.
- Job Hopping—In some industries this is acceptable due to the nature of the business, but in most companies jumping from job to job even on a year-to-year basis raises a red flag. You are obviously unsure about what you’d like to do for a living and companies will be reluctant to risk the expense of training someone who is, quite frankly, flighty. If you fall into this category it is a good idea to stay put for a while to prove you can commit to a company. If you move around too much you probably haven’t even seen all your current organization has to offer anyway. If you decide to move on, do some research and choose wisely so you can stick with the next job for a reasonable amount of time. (Reasonable meaning years, plural).
- Incompatible Objective—Recruiters regularly come across objectives that don’t apply to the position we are seeking to fill. Candidates who want to work in marketing research and apply for human resources for example. Equally troubling is the objective that names a specific company, yet it’s not the company for which you applied. Besides a lack of attention to detail, naming a specific company is not a good objective. You should give the employer an idea of what skills you bring to the table, what you are seeking in an organization and, perhaps, the industry in which you would like to utilize those skills. Objective: To implement my customer service and sales experience in an organization where I can make a positive impact on the bottom line and have opportunities for advancement into management.
- Incorrect Phone number – No need to go into detail, however, it is just as damaging to have a voice mail that is either full or not set up. If you only get one phone call you’ve just missed the boat. On another note, recruiters only want to hear an old-fashioned ring vs. a ring back tone when we call.
- Incorrect Email Address — Due to a high volume of applications some companies only make their initial contact via email, so double-check the information you provide on the application and only use an email account that you check regularly. Your.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Not meeting the job requirements. Most recruiters have been in their role for a long time so they know when someone is just throwing it at the wall to see if it sticks–that is, applying for everything under the sun and hoping for a bite. Don’t waste your time or the company’s by going for jobs in which you have zero interest.
Burning a bridge. Far more often than you might imagine recruiters get applications from candidates who have applied in the past but were less than professional when they pulled out of the process. They canceled an interview the day of or, worse, didn’t show up at all. If you have made this mistake, yet you want to re-apply, and a significant amount of time has not passed (in some cases a couple of years), cross that opportunity off your list. Going forward, act in a more professional manner.
Check back next time for a list of things that can cost you a face-to-face interview during a phone screen or phone interview.
As always, good luck with your job search!