They say that you never get a second chance to make a first impression and there is so much truth to that in the hiring process. While there are a lot of different ways that a job seeker can differentiate themselves from the pack when applying for roles, one surprising differentiator is an attention to detail.
In the past 20 years, I have seen some great resumes, some terrible resumes and a lot that fall somewhere in between. I once had a client compare receiving a resume to going on a first date and it was a comparison that I have never forgotten... one would never go on a first date without a little extra effort, so it stands to reason that we should do the same to impress a potential client or employer. Here are a few quick tips to craft a great first impression through the application process:
Avoid Senseless Mistakes-- review your resume for typos, grammatical errors and inconsistent tense. When hiring managers receive a high number of applicants, often the first round of candidates to be eliminated are those that don't make a great first impression because of grammar or spelling errors.
Follow the Application Instructions-- instructions in a posting are the first step in the evaluation process and small "traps" are often included to catch people who might "skim". If you are asked for a cover letter, produce one. It will be used to evaluate both your written communication skills AND your ability to follow instructions.
Customize Your Resume-- focus on the role that you are interested in and match the relevant details in your resume to the job posting, but don't duplicate the job posting. The author of the job posting wants to see your experience and professionalism -- they do not want to see their work plagiarized.
Fact Check-- make sure everything on your resume is accurate. If you share any links (portfolio, websites, LinkedIn, etc), make sure they work as expected. Also, keep in mind that background, employment and education verifications are very common -- in addition to traditional references.
Google Yourself-- you should expect that you will be searched at some point in the hiring process and often it is earlier than you think. Do you need to clean up your social profile or adjust privacy settings?
Once your resume lands you the interview, here are some tips on how to knock the interview out of the park.