Don’t make these unforced errors before clicking ‘submit’

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You don't want that sick feeling you get when you realise you've just submitted your CV containing unforced errors. With the job market the toughest it’s been in years, applying for jobs might be starting to feel relentless at the moment. But the danger of pinging off applications left, right and centre is that you’ll be more likely to make mistakes in your applications. Here are some unforced errors to avoid along the way…

Unforced error: Not following the instructions 

You’ll already know not to leave any sections of an online job application form blank (a red asterisk next to a question on a form means you must fill it in).

Now there’s another potential pitfall waiting for candidates. Increasingly, employers are crafting job adverts that include little traps to catch you out. That might mean they ask a question you need to give the answer to in your application. Or they ask you to use a specific subject line in your reply.

You might wonder why any job advert asks you for things that on first glance look irrelevant. But these little requests are a recruiter’s first way of filtering out candidates who don’t read instructions thoroughly, and lack the attention to detail they’re looking for in an employee.

So if the ad says to include a graphic of an elephant and a purple balloon, just do it. Or if you need to type every other letter of the alphabet - backwards - at the end of your application, make sure you remember to. Yes, we know it sounds unlikely but don’t get caught out at the first hurdle...

Unforced error: Relying too heavily on spellcheck

Your potential boss will judge you on your spelling and grammar long before they get to meet you in person (or on screen). That’s why everything they see from you has to be top notch.

A study last year found that most CVs contain spelling errors, so running spellcheck to catch any typos in your final CV and application is a no-brainer.

But errors can slip through the net, so don’t rely on it solely. For example, would spellcheck definitely pick up ‘manager’ spelled accidentally as ‘manger’? If you feel too close to your final CV and application, ask someone to read through with fresh eyes to point out any mistakes.

Unforced error: Choosing the wrong CV format

You’ll need to upload your CV for most applications. There’s no point agonising over the words and phrases you use if when you upload it, it’s in the wrong format - and if it’s not viewable it could go straight to the trash bin.

You’ll either be asked for a Microsoft Word document, or a PDF file. Whether you’re emailing your application or uploading it onto a job site, the advert should specify which format to use.

As we tell the job candidates we help at HR GO, if there are no specific instructions it’s best to go the PDF route. This means your CV will look the same with no distortions, whichever kind of device it’s opened on at the other end. Have a look at more of our general CV tips for job hunters, here.

Unforced error: Opting for an unusual font

Formatting your work history and accomplishments in an unusual font sounds creative, right? It’s one way to stand out from the crowd but equally you might fall at the first hurdle.

Most CVs are scanned electronically with specialist software that look for keywords related to the role. Software might not pick up the crucial information in your application if it’s cloaked in a wacky font, slashing your chances of getting through to the next stage.

Our failsafe option? We recommend using a clear font like Arial or Times New Roman in a font size of 10 or 12, in black ink.

Stay focused

We know that times are tough for job seekers right now. And from the moment a potential employer first receives your job application, they’re assessing you to see if you’re the right fit for the job.

There’s less room to make mistakes, so to boost your chances of an interview and landing the role you deserve, don’t tank your application before it’s gone anywhere.

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