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Mastering the Job Application Process: 5 Pitfalls to Avoid in a Competitive Market

“I’ve applied to hundreds of jobs and haven’t heard back!”

Does this sound familiar? It’s no secret we’re in a tough market, and recruiters and hiring managers are only focusing on top-tier candidates.

Having worked in both corporate and agency recruiting, I’ve noticed a few common mistakes that candidates make during the job application process. Here are the 5 pitfalls to avoid:

1. You’re not applying for the right job

While searching for jobs using filters on LinkedIn and Indeed is a great start, it’s essential to read the entire job description thoroughly. Companies may use different titles for similar responsibilities. For example, a “Controller” title at one company could be the same as a “Senior Accountant” or even a “Staff Accountant” at another. It’s also embarrassing to realize you applied for an onsite role in one city when you thought it was a hybrid job in another location. Always read the responsibilities first to gain a clear picture of the position you’re applying to.

2. You have spelling and grammar errors

In the age of AI, there’s little excuse for typos. Use editing software to catch simple spelling and grammar mistakes. Additionally, double-check that company names and dates are correct and match what you have posted on your public LinkedIn profile. Poor grammar and incorrect dates reflect negatively on your attention to detail and ability to proofread.

3. You’re listing responsibilities, not accomplishments

Your resume should highlight your achievements rather than merely listing responsibilities. Quantify your accomplishments whenever possible and utilize action verbs like “led” or “grew” to emphasize the significance and impact of your roles.

4. You’re applying with one resume

Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for. Start by identifying the key qualities valued by the company and in the job description, and adjust your bullet points accordingly. For instance, if you’re applying to a manufacturing role, emphasize your industry-specific experience and integrate relevant keywords from the job description. Remember, “quick apply” likely won’t yield positive results at this stage.

5. You forgot to name your resume file

Ensure that your resume file or any uploaded document associated with your application is correctly named. Include your first name, last name, file type, and the date. For instance, “John Doe Resume April 2024.” This practice benefits both you and the company you’re applying to, as your resume is likely to circulate through multiple hands within the organization. Moreover, it demonstrates your attention to detail and aids recruiters and hiring managers in maintaining organization throughout the application process.

A strong application is the first step to securing an interview, which is crucial for getting your foot in the door and eventually landing the job of your dreams.

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