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I review hundreds of job applications every week and it never ceases to amaze me that job applicants make such simple mistakes that kill any chance of success.

1. Comprehension Skills
It is incredible to me how many job seekers use the 'spray and pray' method of job applications. Seems they only read a part of a job advertisement and then figure that a bit of a fit is close enough.

So here is my simple tip - read the job advertisement in its entirety and be sure you satisfy at least most of the key 'must have' job requirements before you hit the apply button.

2. Back to School
Poorly formatted, poorly spelt, poorly laid out resumes are less likely to be read in their entirety, if at all.

Simple suggestion - get it right the first time and put some genuine effort into making your resume as professional as you would wish it to be viewed. Oh, don't forget to use your spell checker too.

3. Is that Bowl of Porridge, Too Hot, Too Cold or Just Right?
Resumes are often either too verbose or too light on detail. It really is a juggling act to get it just right. Put real effort into creating a well-crafted resume and keep it to an absolute maximum of 3 pages. If you are wondering how you will cram stacks of work experience into such a tight resume, keep in mind that hiring managers are generally only interested in your past 10 years of work experience and in particular the current work experience that ideally relates to the role you have applied. Beyond this time period generally has little bearing.

It is also worth mentioning that the average recruiter or hiring manager will spend less than 10 seconds reading your application; in fact, some statistics state it as low as 7 seconds. Keep in mind this is the time spent looking at your resume, it is common knowledge that if the content of your resume doesn't grab attention then generally zero time is spent reading your cover letter.

After you have written your resume, apply the 10-second test yourself to see how much could possibly be mentally absorbed and then tailor it accordingly. Oh, and scrap the cover letter, just be sure the layout of your resume places great emphasis from the top of the first page on your past achievements.

4. Show me the money
Have you ever thought about the most important question that an employer needs to be answered? It is really a very straightforward question... what will I get in return for my investment in this candidate?

So think about that for a moment and realize the importance of showing meaningful, genuine and inspiring financial numbers that will really peak their interest.

As an example, your resume should lead to recent achievements expressed as tangible results eg, grew territory sales by $2m above budget in past 12 months. You get the drift, make it qualifiable and quantifiable, show the value and the timeline whenever possible. Then imagine how the employer will view this; they will instantly do the math to realize that if they bring you onboard you will have paid for yourself in no time.

5. Do you really want the job?
How could you ever hope to convince someone you are the ideal candidate when you churn out the same resume unaltered for every single job that you apply. It astounds me how a candidate can read a job advertisement and readily recognize they possess all the right ingredients for a role and then fail to craft a proper job application that showcases this perfect fit.

So this begs me to ask the question, do you really want the job? If you do, then think strategically and act decisively to create an individual resume that highlights all your talent in a way that perfectly aligns with the description of the role.
If you can't do that, then chances are the job is not your ideal fit.

Always go for quality of application rather than quantity.

So there you have it, the 5 reasons many job applications truly suck and my simple suggestions as to how you could achieve a better outcome as a job seeker for the future.

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Ken Boots
Author: Ken Boots
About the Author

Ken recruits top sales talent coupled with the ideal culture fit; supported by Admiral Solutions® Personalised HR™ approach. His recruitment specialisation covers mid to senior level executive sales roles across Australia and North America.

Ken gets a real buzz matching job seekers with the ideal employer to achieve the best culture fit.


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