Your job application: How to avoid the circular file

3313311558 daba82e48b Your job application: How to avoid the circular file
cc Your job application: How to avoid the circular file photo credit: jared

Put yourself in any recruiter’s shoes right now.  You have ten job openings you’re trying to fill, and it seems like the entire nation wants these jobs.  You post a couple online, and suddenly you are getting a thousand applications every day.  Where do you start when selecting which candidates to interview?

The fact is that recruiters have to start cutting somewhere, and some of these methods may seem arbitrary, but so it goes.  A simple mistake could end up with you out of the running.

  1. Don’t wait to apply. An online posting might be open for two weeks or even a month, but chances are a recruiter will have plenty of viable candidates in the first day or two.  Monitor the online postings every day, and if you see something that interests you, apply ASAP.  I’ve heard of HR departments considering only the first 100 candidates, or reading the first 25 received each day, or any of a number of other random cutoffs.  Do what you can to avoid missing the cut.
  2. Don’t skip the cover letter. It’s true that in some cases it won’t get read, but you’d be hard pressed to think of a situation where including a cover letter will hurt you.  Lack of a cover letter might just be the arbitrary elimination factor for the position in question.  Don’t give them that excuse to toss you.
  3. Don’t send a “universal” resume. Each job has specific needs, and your job is to demonstrate that you meet them.  Customize every resume to the position in question and make sure you cover each requirement point by point.  If you’d like to learn an effective way to do this, check out this Manager Tools podcast that covers how to craft and maintain a resume.
  4. Don’t forget to proofread. It may seem petty, but a misspelling or grammar error can be fatal to your job search efforts.  Spell check and grammar check every submission, and get a third party to read everything if you can — technology only goes so far.

These are your bare minimum tactics.  In a future post, we’ll cover how to not only guarantee that you remain on the candidate list, but that will help you move to the top.

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