Every job seeker is unique. Each has a different career and carries individual goals for the future. However, many of them make the same mistakes on their job applications, cover letters and résumés.
- “Insert Job Here”: Most job seekers are looking broadly at any available position that fits within their interests and skills set. Therefore, they send out undirected résumés and, even worse, form cover letters differentiated only by the value in the “insert job here” space. Spend a few extra minutes to learn about the organisation and personalise your cover letter and resume. This will reflect what makes your candidacy special.
- Read and follow directions: Does the application call for a writing sample and a salary history? Are you being instructed to mail by post all materials or would the organisation like applications submitted electronically? Job description writers pay to advertise specific directions for a reason. Follow the directions and tailor your job applications accordingly.
- Think about the message you send: Rehearse the voice mail message you plan to leave. Use a serious e-mail address. Does your home voice mail play strange music or have a silly outgoing message? Is your résumé printed on purple paper? All of these things factor into a head-hunter’s first, and indelible, impression.
- A poor résumé: Many résumés end up in the rubbish bin. The really good ones grab attention and get read. The really bad ones list tasks and skills, rather than accomplishments and results. Stop writing about your hobbies; start writing about the change you brought to an organisation and the constituency it serves.
- Spell check: Nine out of ten résumés I have seen claiming that the applicant is “detail oriented” have a typo on their job application somewhere. Some of these typos are tricky, like extra spaces and missing hyphens. Do not forget to look over headers and addresses for mistakes, even your name!
(To be continued)
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