The impression you make on hiring managers is formed in part by your interactions with them, especially in the initial stages of the hiring process. For example, did you follow the directions when applying for a PR position online? Did you make any attempt to determine next steps after submitting your resume?
A misstep early on could cause your resume to move from the “yes” pile to the recycle bin. Below are common mistakes job seekers make when sending their application materials to employers, as well as advice for avoiding them:
Ignoring instructions. Step one when applying for a job: Read the posting carefully. Employers often include specific instructions they would like candidates to follow when submitting their resumes. For example, some ask applicants to include the job requisition number in the subject line of their emails. Others might ask PR candidates to submit writing samples with their resumes. In these situations, be sure to follow the directions: The first job seekers to be eliminated from consideration are those who don’t.
Omitting keywords. You’ll improve your chances of landing an interview if you use keywords when crafting your document. Look at the job listing and use the same words and phrases featured to describe the skills and experience you possess, so long as they accurately describe your qualifications. For example, if a job listing for a PR specialist mentions that applicants should be familiar with media monitoring, include any platforms, like Cision or Radian6, that you’re familiar with on your resume and cover letter. Leaving out keywords could prevent your document from being flagged by resume-scanning software or a human resources representative for further consideration. Using them is one of the easiest ways to maximize your chances for success.
Applying for the wrong roles. In a competitive job market, some professionals will apply for positions for which they are clearly under- or overqualified. Their rationale: Their resume could be strong enough to land an interview, so it’s worth a shot. But chances are, you’ll only succeed in wasting your and the employer’s time. You also risk appearing desperate and unprofessional, thereby damaging the likelihood the company considers you for future openings that might be a better fit.
Disclosing your woes. It’s tempting to use your resume or cover letter to describe the difficulties of your job search and, hopefully, win some sympathy from the potential employer. Although a hiring manager may understand your frustration, the person really just wants to know about your qualifications for the job. You won’t improve your chances of receiving an offer by mentioning your hardships.
Failing to follow up. One of the best ways to get a hiring manager to take another look at your resume is to contact the person again. Wait a week or two before reaching out so the employer has time to sort through and evaluate the resumes that have been submitted. When you do get in touch, don’t merely ask if your resume has been received. Instead, use the time to briefly reassert your interest in the position and explain how your skills can benefit the employer. And remember, a single conversation or message is enough; repeated calls or e-mails will only prove annoying.
The Creative Group is a specialized staffing service placing interactive, design, advertising, marketing and public relations professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and TCG’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com.