There aren’t many ways to guarantee that your CV will get read, picked and set aside for an interview. However, there are a few ways to guarantee that it won’t go straight to the slush pile. We’re told it’s a candidate’s market at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there’s room for sloppy job hunting skills.

Keep in mind, especially for larger companies, CV’s are usually sorted by software before a human ever reads them. That means keywords that match the job description, action verbs and SEO-rich words on the company web site have to be included. This will require tweaking a CV every single time it’s submitted. However, it doesn’t stop there:

Keep it personal

There’s no way to know if a program will read your CV first or a human, so err on the side of personalisation. Whenever possible, find the name of a real person and avoid “Dear Manager.” Some software programs might even scan for key personnel names to gauge just how much effort each applicant put into the process.

Address the key points of the company

If you’re applying for a position, you should do a lot of research on the company online. Just like studying for a test, it’s important to write for the job. Visit the company’s website and get familiar with:

  • Their products or services
  • What awards they’ve won or events they’ve attended
  • The people and culture of the company

Highlight your experiences and talents that you feel would fit in well with the company, and downplay or remove unrelated items.

Proof, proof, proof!

Even Pulitzer Prize-winning writers make grammar mistakes. Proofread “like a boss” every CV and cover letter. Whenever possible get someone else to do grammar checks too. People naturally fill in the blanks and correct mistakes in their head — although not on paper — because the brain is just trying to be helpful. Sometimes this causes needless mistakes.

An easy way for a HR recruiter to sort applications is by putting those with glaring typos in the “Bin” pile. So yes, proofreading takes some extra time and work, but it’s worth it. If a person can’t bother to make their application perfect, what does that say about their work ethic? Think from a recruiter’s perspective.

Play it cool

It’s perfectly acceptable to call or email to check in with a company, but no more than once per month. It’s even more acceptable if you’ve already scored an interview.

Recruiters might be bogged down with a lot of applications, so understand that they’re busy. A nice hand-written note post-interview or a follow-up call one week later is essential, daily emails are not. Playing a little hard to get works both ways when it comes to job hunting.

Apply for the right positions

You might think you have what it takes to be a marketing manager or financial accountant, but does your resume reflect this? Many skills are transferrable, but some aren’t. If you’re looking to get into a new sector, figure out how your current skills and background play into what’s required. If you need a little boost, sign up for a related class, volunteer for a complementary position or consider going back to school if you want a total career overhaul.

Job hunting is partially a numbers game, but not totally. There are almost always more qualified people out there, so the trick is to play up your skills as they relate to the job you are applying. There’s nothing wrong with getting creative, hiring a professional or even seeing a consultant to figure out your angle. However, simply sending out as many resumes as possible just won’t cut it.

Maintain perspective

Job hunting is a full-time job on its own and it takes patience and skill. However, avoiding little mistakes can help make the difference between an interview or not. Take your time and create an application you’re proud of, because that will shine through. You might find what you think is your dream job, but there are plenty of fish in the job hunting sea and the one that’s right for you will eventually emerge.

The most important thing is to keep trying and send out a set amount of CV’s every day. Choose as many as you can handle, whether it’s two or twenty — as long as quality and research doesn’t suffer. Keep track of your applications on a spreadsheet so that you know the appropriate time for a follow up email or call. By practicing your organisational skills now, you’re already prepping for the perfect job.

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