You've spent the day sending out resumes and completing applications. Just as you're about to push aside your laptop to relax, you see it.
Right there, smack dab in the middle of the third-to-last position listed on your resume—a misspelled word. Likely, you won't hear from any of those recruiters or hiring managers. If you had just taken a few minutes to go over your application, you might be talking about the big interview you have next week instead of continuing to send resumes seemingly into the abyss.
When you're in the process of applying for a job, attention to detail is critical. Here's a handy checklist that covers important things you should do before you hit submit.
1. Read the Entire Job Posting
We know you're eager to find work, but make sure you thoroughly read the entire job posting before responding. Were there specific directions on how to name your resume and other materials when applying? Did the job posting give you a specific timeline for when someone will reach out, or when it’s OK to follow up? Always be on the lookout for special instructions.
And hiring managers like to narrow the applicant pool by posing detailed-oriented questions, so provide reflective and diligent responses.
2. Make Sure Your Materials Are Spotless
This is a no-brainer, and yet, it's so easy to let a careless mistake knock you out of the running. Whether you’re an internal or external candidate, your familiarity with the organization is not a reason to be casual on an application. Avoid any lingo, abbreviations, and slang.
Be sure that everything is grammatically correct and that there are no spelling errors. And once you’ve checked over everything a few times, send it to a friend. You can even run it through Grammarly (that's right, there's an app for that). Bottom line, there’s no excuse for there/their/they’re mistakes in your application.
3. Craft Your Application Materials For the Specific Role
There’s no such thing as a stock cover letter, and you’re going to need to tailor that message for each application you submit. While there are a few fragments you can use for each letter, it’s best to start fresh so you can focus on your audience and sell your talents.
And the same goes for your resume. Try to list accomplishments that feel relevant to the position and will catch a hiring manager’s eye.
4. Don’t Forget the “Why”
Often when we’re in the middle of detailing our career history, we forget the most important thing—the why. Why do you want to work for this company and why are you the best candidate for the job? If you can’t answer those questions, it’s time to consider whether you should be applying in the first place.
5. Take a Step Back and Review
You have one chance to apply for a job and make the best impression. So before you hit submit, give your application another once over and make sure you've followed all instructions in the job posting. You never want to reach out to a recruiter after you’ve applied to point out an error you made because you didn’t read thoroughly.
6. Clean Up Your Social Media
Unfortunately, the work doesn’t end with your application. If you’ve been testing out your standup routine via Twitter, you’re going to want to delete those NSFW jokes. You should remove anything that could be perceived as inappropriate by a recruiter from your social media channels. And listen, we get that you love craft beer, but you might want to make that Instagram feed private.
It’s also time to shake off the cobwebs gathering on your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you’ve detailed your responsibilities and accomplishments at previous positions, and that all of your information is accurate and up to date.
We get it. You want to start booking interviews right away, but take the time to go over the job posting and make sure your assets are in order. Attention to detail is essential, and could make or break your chances of landing an interview.