COVER LETTER, CURRICULUM VITAE AND MORE:
FOUR STEPS TO ERROR-FREE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS
If you send an application full of mistakes, it might prevent you from being invited for an interview – no matter how qualified you may be for the job. Do not neglect to correct your cover letter and resume carefully. Below you will find the most common mistakes and tips on how to avoid them.
Applying for a new job can be a time-consuming and sometimes extensive task. An application requires dedication, concentration and focus – even regarding the seemingly unimportant details, such as repeatedly checking each element of your application documents for spelling and grammar errors as well as formatting and consistency.
Error-free applications – even without having an eye for detail
Of course, it is a matter of debate to which extent an application must be error-free. You can be sure that the personnel sector is conducting this debate fiercely. However, that doesn't change the fact that error-free applications are still very important. The good news is that there are a few simple steps which can help you submit error-free applications – even if you have a lack of attention to detail.
1. Spelling and grammar mistakes:
Of course, everyone occasionally makes mistakes. Considering the technology and software available to us today, however, numerous kinds of spelling and grammar mistakes in application documents are almost inexcusable. So, before submitting your CV and cover letter, you must always:
- Use the spell-checking software on your computer and make sure you set the correct language
- Print out your CV and/or cover letter, this will make it easier for you to notice any mistakes
- Read your CV aloud – this is another method to identify errors
- Read your CV backwards – this may sound strange, but it’s a proven way to uncover mistakes
- Ask a friend or relative to proofread the documents for you
- Make use of free online software to help you find any grammar mistakes
- Use a different font or font colour – errors are easier to detect in an unusual form. Just remember to change it back before you send it off.
2. The application has no consistent form:
Ensure consistency of all elements of your application. Here’s how:
- Use abbreviations and capitalisations consistently. In an application, proper nouns, such as job titles, company names and training courses, are frequently used, which, of course, might lead to inconsistency. Candidates sometimes capitalise their job title in the wrong context, or use an abbreviation to refer to their company in one instance, but not another – so pay attention!
- Consistently use the same simple font and font size throughout your application – the same goes for bold and italicised copy.
- Don’t switch from writing in the first person, to the third person, and vice versa. Write in the first person throughout.
- Similarly, ensure you maintain a professional tone throughout.
3. Poor formatting:
Formatting is often one of the first things a recruiter or HR consultant will notice. Here’s how to leave the best first impression possible:
- Keep your reader in mind; your application should be written as clearly as possible. Avoid large paragraphs and divide important information by using bullet points
- Avoid using logos and pictures on your CV. They are unnecessary and may lead to a poorly formatted CV. If recruiters/HR consultants use other systems than you, logos and pictures might cause problems for them
- Keep it simple – resist the temptation to use backgrounds, borders or clipart
- In your word processing program, zoom out of the document to get a clearer view of formatting
- Print out the documents to detect formatting errors – this helps you to immediately spot any inconsistencies
- If your CV is more than one page, ensure your page transitions are smooth. If you start with a certain position on one page, it should also end there, so avoid continuing it on the second page
- When you have completed the formatting, you should convert the document into a PDF file. Like this, you can be sure that the formatting remains as you want it to be
4. Lack of reading flow:
This is particularly important if an email and/or cover letter are part of your job application. Take time to double check the following:
- Do your paragraphs flow?
- Does your text make sense to the reader?
- Read it out loud to notice any sentences difficult to understand. This also helps to identify words that are used too many times in a particular paragraph or sentence
- Read it to a friend or relative to double check that they understand what the key messages are
Invest in your application documents
In general, you should take plenty of time to ensure that you have completed each of the above steps before submitting your next application. This shows that you are ambitious and diligent, which ultimately increases your chances of being invited to an interview.