One small error in your CV, as minor yet as glaring as a spelling mistake, can mean you miss out on a job that you’d otherwise be perfect for.
Scary as that sounds, in a competitive job market it’s the unfortunate truth. So a good way to organise your mind, and the overall application process, is to create a checklist before you even begin writing your name on the top of your CV.
Not sure where to start? Fear not, we have created a checklist guide for the job application process to help. So, make a calming cup of tea, grab a pen and get started.
Get your head round the job description
As you sip your chamomile tea, take another good, hard look at the job description and dissect it to find the bits you really need to include in your CV and your cover letter. As you go, write down:
Key words. These will be crucial to get your CV past the robots that live in the computers of recruiters, which are in charge of the modern CV screening process.
Key skills. These must be named in your CV, and some should be in your cover letter.
Any other specific things the recruiter is looking for, such as the ability to work flexible hours, have a full drivers’ license or have experience in using specific software. Taking note of these now means you won’t miss them in your cover letter.
The closing date for applications. Missing that would be a total waste of your time.
Prepare to write your cover letter
This is a very important part of the job application process, and something many people find the most challenging. Writing a unique, succinct one-page summary of why you’re most suited to the job, and great in general, is tricky. To give yourself the best chance of getting it right, add the following to your checklist:
The name of the company and person you’re addressing the letter to and spelt correctly.
Refer to your list of key skills, experience and personal attributes you need to outline in the letter.
Include your reasons for applying for this job.
Add “spell check” to your list. Perhaps add it twice.
For your CV
Whether you’re starting your CV from scratch or amending an existing version, ensure you have the following on your list to tick off:
Key skills, particularly those that are listed in the job advertisement.
Previous experience – if your experience is vast, then only list those that can be applied to this particular role.
Check the nitty-gritty stuff. That includes your name (yes we know, but if you spell it wrong then it’s not a great look), contact details, and spelling.
Check that all those vital key words (remember the robots?) are included.
Check that everything you have written is relevant and tailored to the role you’re applying for.
Did we already say that? Proof your application. Get your flatmate, your partner, your mother as well. And do it again. Run it through an online spell checker if you don’t have one automatically on. One spelling mistake could be the end of your application – it’s that important.
Review the job requirements
Once you’ve got a perfectly written CV and cover letter draft, refer again to your previous list about what the job ad is asking for and check everything they’re asking for is there. Missing out small but vital details like being able to drive or work weekends could lead to your CV being binned at the other end.
Check your attachments
Finally, before you click “send”, check everything you need is attached and that each file is appropriately named. A busy recruiter will appreciate anything that saves time, so naming your cover letter exactly that, with your name on it, is super helpful.
Keep a list of who’s who
Be prepared for a call or email from one of the jobs you’ve applied for. If you’ve fired off multiple applications, then having a list of who is related to which job will stand you in good stead when the phone rings.
Hopefully, after all your work, triple-checking and list-making, the final tick can be on the “First day of work” task.