With the job market being the toughest it’s been in years, applying for new opportunities might be starting to feel relentless.

It’s easy to see why that some professionals have started to ping off applications left, right and centre at quick successions.

But the danger of doing this is that you’ll be more likely to make mistakes in your future applications. Here are some unforced errors to avoid when searching for your next career move…

Not reading the instructions

You’ll already know not to leave any sections of an online job application form blank (a red asterisk next to a question on a form means you must fill it in).

However, there’s another potential danger for applicants. Increasingly, employers are now crafting job adverts that include little ploys to catch you out. Using tactics such as; asking you a question that you need to answer before submitting your details, or asking you to apply with a specific subject line in your response.

You probably have already started noticing this, and questioned why this is the case. But for a recruiter, it’s their way of filtering out applicants who don’t read the instructions thoroughly, and lack the attention to detail they’re looking for in a new employee.

So the next time you fill out an application that requests you to add something you might consider ‘irrelevant’, just accept it and do it. Yes, it might seem unlikely that one question/ request ignored won’t hinder your application, but you do not want to be knocked off the first hurdle..

Don’t just rely on spellcheck

Your potential employer will judge you on your spelling and grammar long before they get to meet you in person (or on screen). That’s why everything on your application has to be top notch.

A study last year found that most CVs contain spelling errors, so running spellcheck to catch any typos in your final CV and application is a no-brainer.

But errors can slip through the net, so don’t rely on it solely. For example, would spellcheck definitely pick up ‘there’ spelled accidentally as ‘their’? If you feel too close to your final CV and application, ask someone to read through with fresh eyes to point out any mistakes.

CV on wrong format?

You’ll need to upload your CV for most applications. There’s no point agonising over the words and phrases you use if when you upload it, it’s in the wrong format.  If it’s not accessible to the employer, they will more than likely, filter you out from the hiring process.

You’ll either be asked for a Microsoft Word document, or a PDF file. Whether you’re emailing your application or uploading it onto a job site, the advert should specify which format to use.

As we tell the professionals we work with at RHL, if there are no specific instructions it’s best to go the PDF route. This means your CV will look the same with no distortions, whichever kind of device it’s opened on at the other end. You can find more details about CV tips, here.


Keep the font simple

Formatting your work history and accomplishments in an unusual font sounds creative, right? It’s one way to stand out from other applicants but equally you might fall at the first hurdle.

Most CVs are scanned electronically with specialist software that look for keywords related to the role. Software might not pick up the crucial information in your application if it’s all in a unusual font, negatively impacting your chances of getting through to the next stage.

Our failsafe option? We recommend using a clear font like Arial or Times New Roman in a font size of 10 or 12, in black ink.

Stay focused

We know that times are tough for active professionals right now. And from the moment a potential employer first receives your job application, they’re assessing you to see if you’re the right fit for the role.

There’s less room to make mistakes, so spend time thoroughly going through each application you make, to give yourself the best chance to land a new opportunity.