Have you heard this one before? It’s not about you – it’s all about the employer. Get that right and you will get an interview. Get it wrong, especially on your application documents, and they won’t try to find you. We’ll explain the top 5 job application mistakes, and why you’re making them. Does this sound a bit harsh? Am I confusing you?
Let me explain:
I have spoken with many hiring professionals over the last few years and here are some hard truths I’ve learned about job application mistakes.
Job Application Mistake #1
Expecting to get your resume in front of a hiring manager, without getting through the HR process.
Make sure a simple person can understand what you’re talking about in your resume. Hiring managers don’t care at first if you are managing complicated purchasing departments, coding complex algorithms, or conducting cutting-edge research with non-destructive tests — none of your impressive feats will end up on the hiring manager’s desk if you can’t at least explain it in a way that a nontechnical person can understand well enough to put you in the right pile.
Imagine this: Your application is opened in the mail room or by the receptionist who handles 100 calls whilst opening 200 online applications for the manager position. Ouch … happens all the time!
Cut down the jargon, give proper context, and focus on results. Use the job posting to your advantage here — find the keywords and present your work the same way they present their requirements.
It’s not about you – it’s all about the employer. Try to approach your resume as an industry outsider. Jargon is ok and starts to get instinctive when you’re around it for long enough, but step outside of your industry bubble for a bit and you will likely lose the reader. The easier you make things for anyone who has to read your documents the more smoothly your application process will go. Fail that and you will never get through HR processes.
Job Application Mistake #2
If your contact info isn’t working for me, nothing else matters.
This is the biggest pet hate amongst recruiters, especially if you are that potential person who seems to have everything the hiring manager is looking for, but you are just impossible to contact. Please guys – check, double check, and test all your contact information and contact links. Typos are bad – ok, but a mistake in your contact information could be disastrous.
Job Application Mistake #3
It’s all too hard to work out your relevant experience, skills or education.
I can’t repeat this often enough. Your first hurdle is in most cases an automated process and then a hiring professional. I know you all want to make your resume stand out a bit from the typical resume, but getting creative with your design software isn’t the way to do it. Unless you’re applying for a job such as a designer or artist, your focus should be on making your resume simple, clean and easy to digest.
In other words, no funky formats. You’re far better off spending your time trying to maximize the top half of your resume. This could mean writing a resume summary or introduction with the most relevant reasons why you are the right candidate.
I know what you are thinking. OBJECTIVE STATEMENT?! Yep, that could be one way to solve it, but why would you do that if you’re applying for an actual position? You are not impressing me, actually you are turning me away. Most hiring managers prefer a simple explanation or introduction to decide if they read further or invite you for an interview, not a generic statement about your medium or long term career goals.
Job Application Mistake #4
I refuse to look at it if it hurts my eyes.
The debate over how much time a hiring professional will spend looking over a resume is as ‘long as a piece of string’. That debate is pointless if the resume is hard on the eyes and just takes too long to read. You really have no choice. Your resume has to be easy and that means easy to read and preferably ‘skimable’ in a way that highlights the key points.
Read: Stop making your font so small that it’s barely legible. It doesn’t matter how much more you’re able to fit on your one-pager if no one is reading it. And don’t let your bullet points drag on to that fourth line. Keep it to three max, or better, two, which is all you’ll get from most recruiters and, more likely than not, one is all that will get read. (If you want to learn how to make your resume readable, join us at one of our Job Coaching Seminars and we’ll show you how to make your resume easy to skim.)
Job Application Mistake #5
If it’s not immediately clear from the first 1/3 of your resume why you’re applying, no one will connect the dots for you.
No matter what you are: career changer, unemployed job hunter or intern, if the initial reaction to your resume is confusion, you’re not going to get very far. No one likes to do the work for you. Get it?
Fail to connect the dots for the reader and you will be a lone hunter with no feedback at all. I know that you have an idea of how your skills can be transferred or why you’re more skilled than your years of experience might show. But unless you spell it out on your resume right from the start, the hiring guys probably won’t be able to (or take the time to) put the pieces together — and you’ll never have the chance to explain in person.
So, you can choose to do it all your way and remain in the quiet of your Application Black Hole, or you can do something about it and improve your chances for a job interview.
What’s more to say? Just – hunt wisely!