Online job applications make it easy for candidates to find and apply for dozens of jobs in a matter of minutes. As a result, recruiters are bombarded with resumes and job applications from a pool of candidates who are all after the same job. If you want to stand out of the crowd and make a good first impression with the hiring manager who will review your application, here are 10 mistakes you should avoid at all costs when applying for a job online.
1. Don’t Write Long Cover Letters
While you should always include a cover letter or an introductory email when you’re submitting a job application, don’t make the mistake of writing more than three paragraphs.
Recruiters want to see your skills at a glance. You should use this window of opportunity to mention how you heard about the opening you’re applying for. You should include specific facts that can’t be inferred from your resume and that will set you apart from other candidates (i.e. previous experience). Check out this free sample cover letter guide.
2. Don’t Add the Contact Info at the Bottom
Help recruiters have an easy time perusing your online application. This includes adding your contact info at the top of your resume. By doing this, the hiring manager will be able to check if your current location matches with the opening’s requirements.
If you have a resume that’s several pages long, consider adding your contact info on each page. This way, if the recruiter prints your resume and the pages get mixed up, they will still know who the resume belongs to.
3. Don’t Start Your Resume with Your Education
This tip is valid for all job openings. Even if you are fresh out of college and filling in a Starbucks application, start with your experience, not with your education. Candidates who don’t have much experience in the field can still add in volunteering work and internships.
When you’re writing about your education, remember to first list your most recent degree and then continue your list in descending order.
4. Don’t Include Time Gaps Without Giving an Explanation
When recruiters come upon an extended period of time with no activity on a candidate’s resume, it immediately raises a red flag. A professional, skilled and reliable candidate is expected to work all year round.
If you had to take time off in your past, offer recruiters an explanation and talk about that period of your time, underlining the things you’ve learned and the skills you’ve acquired. For example, as a child care provider you might have developed persuasive and storytelling skills.
5. Don’t Forget to Include Numbers
Your job application is your one-time shot to impress the hiring manager and get the job you’ve been searching for. Take your time to create a well-rounded resume and don’t only include worthless descriptions.
Back up your stories or examples by facts and numbers. The bigger the numbers, the more impressed the recruiters. Also, focus on your individual impact on the companies you’ve worked for in the past. What changes did you propose and how did you implement them?
6. Don’t Add Skills that Don’t Apply to the Job Description
When you’re filling in an online job application, it’s tempting to add as many skills as possible. Keyword strategy is a huge part of an online application so you want to follow a solid keyword strategy. Refrain from this bad habit and instead streamline your application. Only include skills that apply to the job description you’re submitting your candidacy for.
You should emphasize hard skills, awards, certifications, licenses, honors, and affiliations. If you’ve been feeling that gap with volunteer work, here is a list of skills you will definitely want to select from.
7. Don’t Forget to Check Your Spelling and Grammar
Recruiters are trained to spot spelling and grammar mistakes with the speed of light. Before you submit your online job application, it’s crucial you double or even triple check your grammar. You’ll spot any possible mistakes easier if you print your job application and resume on paper.
If your application contains errors, the hiring manager will draw negative conclusions and most likely will dismiss you as a suitable candidate for the job opening.
8. Don’t Lie or Stretch the Truth
If you don’t have the necessary experience required by the job description, don’t stretch the truth or, even worse, lie in your job application. The recruiters might want to cross-check references and past experience and it would be very embarrassing if they found out you were making things up.
Be honest, upfront and straightforward about your work experience (or lack of it). Sometimes, job descriptions are exaggerated and the demands can be unreal. Stick to the truth to avoid future complications and embarrassment.
9. Don’t Leave any Blank Fields
Filling in applications all day long can be tedious and strenuous. However, deliberately leaving blank fields can be interpreted as arrogant and show a lack of interest. Don’t give hiring managers any reasons to dismiss your job application before even reading it.
If you feel uninspired and don’t know how to answer a question, it’s better to postpone sending the application for the next day rather than send it in with blank fields. You should also double check you haven’t miss any fields by accident. This is equally as bad as doing it on purpose and will send a negative message to recruiters: that you lack attention to details.
10. Don’t Include Negative Reasons for Leaving Past Jobs
Online job applications often comprise a section requesting Reasons for Leaving Past Jobs. Even if you’ve had unpleasant or unprofessional experiences at your last jobs, refrain from including them in your job application. Any negative references you make about past employers can be interpreted as poor attitude or performance.
Instead of focusing on the negative side of things, explain the move by talking about higher expectations or different objectives and working environments.