When speaking with my friends over the past number of weeks one of the topics that came up as a goal for the year, along with leading a healthy lifestyle, was to search for a new job in 2012.
Through these conversations it became apparent that my friends were really interested in hearing what they shouldn’t be doing when applying for a new position. Therefore, I thought it opportune to give a little insight in this area.
Although there are a number of things that can be done to ensure you successfully apply for a position, I thought I would highlight the top five mistakes that I commonly see when assessing applications:
1. Not listing up-to-date information – It seems easy enough, when you’re applying for a position to ensure you have the latest and greatest information included in your resume. Unfortunately it is an all too common occurrence for applicants to not include the most recent experience on their resume. It is worth taking those extra few minutes to include your most recent position. If you’re debating whether to include the information for confidentiality reasons, you can always list the company as ‘confidential’ and include a short description of the company instead.
2. Lack of proof reading – It always amazes me how I can still receive resumes and cover letters that have simple spelling or grammatical errors. Especially now that spell check is commonly utilized in word processing, it should be the first check that is done on a document. But don’t rely on spell check alone, it doesn’t catch everything. Remember to proof read; whether you do this yourself or even have a friend read over what you have written, sometimes they pick up things that you may have missed. Another great tip that I’ve used to ensure information I’ve written makes sense is to read the information aloud to myself, sometimes reading it out loud picks up errors that you may have otherwise missed.
3. Going for quantity over quality – It is sometimes hard to fit all of your experience into the one or two pages that are reserved for resumes. If you have been working for a number of years and need to decide on what to include and not include in your resume, try to focus on the most recent five or so years of experience and key projects that you’re proud of, especially those that give you a sense of achievement. Use bullet points in your resume as much as possible. Recruiters sometimes look through scores of resumes in a day, bullets points are more appealing to read than a paragraph.
4. Not tailoring your resume – I’m not saying here to embellish on your resume, however at times you need to bring your relevant experience to the fore front. Sometimes one resume does not fit all positions you’re applying to, especially if you’re embarking on a career change. Try to highlight projects and experience that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.
5. Going overboard with fonts, bolds and italics – I’m the first to admit that there are some great fonts and effects that you can use these days in word processing. Although it is a great idea to jazz up your resume a little, it is best not to go overboard. Try to use a consistent font and size throughout the whole resume. Choose a font that is easy to read and try to stay away from colors. Use bold, italics and underlining functions sparingly. It is a fine line trying to stand out from the pack, but having too much visual activity in a document can be a deterrent to the recruiter that has been reading resumes all day.
Applying for a new position can be a nerve wracking experience and I understand how simple mistakes can happen. Take the extra few minutes to read through your resume, cover letter and any other information that you’re forwarding through in an application. First impressions really do count and your resume is the first impression you’re providing to an organization – make it a good one.
Best wishes for the rest of the year ahead!