So, you’re applying to jobs and not hearing back. It feels like your personality or experience is the problem, but have you considered that your applications are the issue? Maybe the information on your resume isn’t concise enough, or tells very little about you – or, maybe no hiring managers have even gotten to reading the content because of the boring layout. Here are some common mistakes you may be making on your applications and the fixes that’ll help you get the job!
Master Your Layout
An employer can tell a lot about you from a look at your resume’s design. Your layout speaks to things like your eye for design, creativity level and attention to detail. More than anything else, though, your layout shows the amount of effort you’d be putting into the job – employers seeking dedicated, meticulous employees will not be impressed with plain or sloppy layouts that look quickly whipped together.
If your layout is bland, messy or hard to follow, employers may not even look at the content – after all, most hiring managers who are bogged down with applications give resumes a quick glance rather than comb through them. The layout can make or break whether the hiring manager even gets to learning about your experience.
Ensure you’ve got a clean but creative layout that says a lot about your personality and potentially your skill set – for instance, are you applying for jobs that require graphic design? Use this chance to show off before they even look at your portfolio! Also, don’t forget to make your cover letter and any subsequent documents that you send as part of the application all have matching layouts – it’ll show how detail-oriented you are.
Don’t Waste Space
Resumes are meant to be a concise picture of your abilities, focused on the highlights of your career journey so far. Taking up too much time talking about little details is a waste of not only the hiring manager’s time, but your time.
Let’s start with the professional summary – this is something that doesn’t need to be on a resume to begin with because your job history and skills should say it all, but it’s fine if you have extra space to fill. If you must include it, make sure it operates as a summary of all your best qualities. “It’s a mistake to not give your professional summary any impact,” says Style Nine to Five Founder, Christie Lohr. “If you must include one, treat it like it’s the only thing a hiring manager will read.”
When it comes to your actual skills and experience, scale those down to just the key points, highlights, and anything that applies to the jobs you’re seeking. Use only the amount of bullet points necessary to get these points across – a hiring manager who is skimming bullet points will gloss over a lot of the information if there is too much presented to them.
Also, don’t mention soft skills, as they should be implied through the rest of your application – you don’t need to hammer home that you have a “strong creative vision” if you’ve already mentioned having artistic hard skills like fashion design or art direction. “Instead of using precious space in your skills for words like ‘hard working’ or ‘team player’, use words like ‘event planning, retail merchandising, KPIs, Adobe, Excel, Shopify, leading teams of 10, et cetera,” says Christie.
Clean Up Your Cover Letter
A lot of people have been taught to have one cover letter that they submit to multiple jobs, but that doesn’t cut it anymore. You can have a certain template that you consistently use, but change up the wording to cater to different companies.
Personalize it from the very introduction – ditch “To whom it may concern” or “Dear sir/madam”, which are very impersonal. Find the hiring manager’s name, or simply put “To the Hiring Manager/Committee at Company Name”.
Don’t just tell the hiring manager that you’re excited to “work at their company”. An employer wants to be assured that they’re hiring someone who is familiar with their company and what they do, so if you genuinely do love the company, make it shine through. “Many talk about how great the company is, but why do you want to work for this company? What makes the company great? What do you love about the company you’re applying to?” says Christie.
Finally, you may have a lot of great skills and accomplishments that you’re proud of, but if they have no relevance to the job, then they have no business being a part of your cover letter. You may think those details will impress, but they’ll more than likely read as though you didn’t properly look through the job description.
Every detail of your job application is an opportunity to showcase how capable you are of the job, even if it may not seem like it. These seemingly small fixes show a dedication and attention to detail that you won’t even need to list on your resume.
Need an extra pair of eyes to go over your resume and cover letter for you? Try Style Nine to Five’s Resume and Cover Letter Refresh!
Emily Morrison is a freelance writer and media professional with passions for film and storytelling.
Feature Image: Adobe Stock