Every now and then, while scrolling through job listings, you come across a job that seems absolutely perfect. You love the title and responsibilities, and because it’s such a great fit, you feel compelled to fire off your resume and cover letter as quickly as possible. But slow down.
As career counselor Caris Thetford writes in a recent Daily Muse post titled “4 Common Mistakes Everyone Makes When Rushing to Apply for the ‘Perfect Job,'” you run the risk of seeming like you didn’t properly prepare your documents, and that’s a really bad idea. Sure, it pays to act fast, in other words, but not that fast.
“Your application materials are your first (and sometimes, only) chance to demonstrate your professionalism, enthusiasm, and attention to detail—or lack thereof,” Thetford writes. “And these traits show up in the details.”
Thetford’s first tip is to avoid “To Whom It May Concern” in your cover letter. That salutation suggests you sent something generic and didn’t take the time to figure out who the hiring manager is. While finding the proper contact info might take a little digging, it’s definitely worth it, according to Thetford.
The next no-no on Thetford’s list of common mistakes is failing to proofread your documents. Spelling and punctuation matter, and here, the smart move is to have someone else give your cover letter and resume a read. After all, you’re probably so familiar with them that you’re not going to catch the tiny mistakes that might mark you foul to a potential employer.
Mistake No. 3 is failure to create a customized resume. If you’ve read the job description and possibly even spoken to someone at the company, you should be able to tailor your CV to highlight the skills needed for the position. Again, Thetford says, it pays to have someone else read your resume and the job posting and give their thoughts on whether you’ve addressed all the requirements.
“It takes time to rearrange your resume content and tweak the wording of each section, but when your experience and skills clearly align with the job description, the hiring manager will immediately see that you are a good fit—and will be much more likely to invite you to interview,” Thetford writes.
The final gaff is Thetford’s list is neglecting to “go the extra mile to stand out.” Even if you send a great resume and cover letter that’s tailored to the job and free of grammatical mistakes, you might kick it up a notch and send an unsolicited proposal or creative work sample that really showcases what you can do. There are numerous approaches you might take here, and that’s another reason you should put the brakes on and refrain from applying seconds after you see the posting.
“Putting your best foot forward with a potential employer should never be done in haste,” Thetford writes.