• Cindy O'Dea

4 Insanely Easy Ways to improve your job applications

Are you struggling to get job interviews when you apply for jobs?

As an HR Manager, I’ve recruited hundreds of people for many different types of jobs and I have probably looked at thousands of resumes. I really want to see everyone get a fair go but when I see simple mistakes that cost people their chance for a job, it makes me feel bad for them. These mistakes tell me and the selection panel you want a job but our company isn’t important enough for you to get it right. It's not a great first impression but I have some ways for your application to shine and stand out from the others.

I’ve seen it all – using the wrong job title in the cover letter, using the wrong company name in the opening line and glaring spelling mistakes - like the time I was recruiting for a barista and someone told me they were a qualified barrister (they weren’t!). That was certainly confusing for us all.

Person cleaning a coffee machine
Barista (but not barrister!) duties

I've also been a candidate, a lot, and I follow these rules myself. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME

1. Follow the instructions carefully

Make sure you read the job ad or application pack thoroughly to know what we are looking for. You can often be asked to address selection criteria or answer specific questions and this forms part of what the company is looking for from the candidates. This shows the selection panel if you can follow instructions, have an eye for details and illustrates your writing skills. By not reading and following what is required, you are unlikely to get offered an interview or proceed to the next round of the selection process.

2. Wait before sending in your application

Even if you think you have your application ready to go as soon as you see an ad posted – WAIT!

Don’t send your application in ten minutes after the job ad appears online – it sends a message that you have a generic application you send to all prospective employers. Wait for 24 hours at least. You want to make sure you go back to Step 1 and look over your application to ensure you have answered everything that was asked.

3. Personalise the application

Take the time to find out who to address the application to, generally either the contact person or someone in Human Resources. It makes a difference when someone addresses me by name on their application; I can see they have taken some time and done a bit of research about the organisation.

Make sure you have included the right details for the job – including the job title and the organisation name. When you send an application that has the wrong details you are likely to be excluded from further steps in the process through your lack of attention to detail.


4. Proofread, proofread, proofread

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE proofread your application. I can’t stress how important this is. Spelling and grammar mistakes aren’t always a deal breaker, especially when English isn’t your first language, or if writing doesn’t feature heavily in the job you are applying for, but some mistakes are just sloppy.

I’ve read resumes where people have a mistake in their own address (yes, really!), some had incomplete sentences and you’ve already heard the one about the barista.

When a job involves written skills, your application is the first part of what the company is judging you on to see if you should proceed to the next part of the selection process.

This is your only chance to make a good first impression and be considered further.

Don’t rely on the free online spell check programs as they can’t always pick up subtleties of language. Getting someone else to proofread is always a great idea because they will look at it with fresh eyes or you can try a trick I always use – start from the bottom sentence and read up. This tricks your brain to think a bit harder about what it's reading.

Woman proofreading a document
Proofreading is vital

Need more ideas or help writing your resume? Check out other free resources here or let me help write your resume. For pricing and more information click here

I’d love to know if you have made these changes to achieve a successful outcome – did you start getting interviews, did you get a job offer? Please drop a COMMENT below and share your stories with me

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