Don't fall down at the final hurdle and miss that grad job opportunity.
Once you've put together your CV and are ready to send it off for the job of your dreams, there are some final things you should be doing. Even a killer CV, with loads of relevant experience to the job at hand, can't withstand too many sloppy spelling errors - or a damaging online presence.
So, here's the 7-point checklist you should be going through before you apply for a job.
1. Google yourself.
It's 2017. You should expect that, when employers are deciding who to interview, they will look each candidate up on social media and assess your online presence. You don't want them to come across anything that puts you in a bad light - so, the first step is to research yourself online. Search "your name + Facebook", "your name + the industry you work in", and so on.
Go onto your Facebook and use the 'view as' option, which allows you to see what someone who isn't your friend can access on your profile. Don't like what you see? Untag those unflattering, drunk photos and tweak your privacy settings. If you use Twitter and Instagram in a non-professional capacity and you're worried that the content you share may impact your success in looking for jobs, you should consider making them private now.
The goal here is, simply, when a company researches you - make sure you know exactly what they'll find, and that you're happy with them finding it. If not, it's time to do some damage control.
2. Update your LinkedIn profile. If you haven't got one already, consider setting it up before you submit your application.
A LinkedIn profile is your opportunity to expand upon your brief CV - which should ideally only be one page, or just over, in length. Delete the joke-y hobbies you've included and ask some colleagues to endorse you for skills, or to write you a recommendation.
Make sure your most recent experience is written about astutely and comprehensively - avoiding meaningless buzzwords and talking about yourself in the third person. LinkedIn is also a great opportunity to list and link to any projects you worked on, courses you've taken and professional achievements you want to highlight. Think of it as an extended version of your CV and prepare to discuss anything you detail on your profile at interview, just as you would your CV and cover letter.
3. Have a catch up with your referees.
You don't need them just yet, but it's good to let your referees know that they might be contacted regarding the job you've applied for. If you plan to get a reference from someone you haven't spoken with for a while especially, give them a call. Let them know what you've been working on recently and what your strengths are so they can best represent you.
You don't want to be scrambling at the last minute to get people lined up and prepped to be contacted - so, before you send off your next application, make sure you know who you'd put forward as a reference and that they're happy for you to do so. You can also find out dates and times of day that work best for them, to minimise the likelihood of a recruiter calling them up and getting their voicemail - stalling the hiring process to your detriment.
4. Check your outgoing voicemail message.
By sending out your CV, you are putting yourself out there to be contacted via the details you provide. You want that potential employer to call about the opportunity - make sure you're prepared for that when it happens.
If you miss a call, you want your voicemail to be clear and professional, and one that ensures the recruiter knows they've got the right person. State your full name and ask that the caller leave a name, number and brief message; assure them you'll be in touch promptly.
Similarly, if you've listed a professional email address that differs from your current work, or day-to-day, contact email - make sure you're checking it regularly. During the job hunt, you can assign it as one of your main emails on your smartphone, or set it up to forward messages to an inbox you use more regularly so you never miss an opportunity.
5. Proofread, proofread, proofread.
This really should go without saying - but never send a first draft of your CV, that you haven't thoroughly checked and refined, to a prospective employer. Spelling and grammar slip-ups are all too common and are an automatic red flag to recruiters; errors suggest you haven't tried or have poor attention to detail. Which is super awkward if you've listed "great attention to detail" as one of your skills.
If you've got to the point where you just can't look at it any more - get a friend or relative to review it for you, particularly if they don't know the details of your career and skillset in-depth. It can be really helpful to have someone who doesn't know much about you to have a read of your CV, so they can tell you what impression they get of you from just this document.
Before you complete the proofing process, check for the following:
- Have you cut out the meaningless buzzwords and replaced them with evidence of your skills and experience?
- Are your name and contact details clearly stated at the top?
- Is it a maximum of two pages long?
- Is your employment history listed chronologically, from most recent to least recent?
- Is your degree grade and all essential information readily available to the reader?
Importantly, if it isn't tailored specifically to the job at hand, you aren't ready to send it.
6. Make a note of the job you're applying for.
When you get a call from a recruiter or prospective employer to chat about your application - a massive turn off, for them, is hearing someone on the other end who clearly doesn't remember applying.
If you're on the job hunt at the moment and have applications out with lots of different companies, start keeping a log of everything you put yourself forward for. Make a note of when you applied, the job title and some details about the company. Ensure you also know which version of your CV (and cover letter) you sent the company. That way, when it comes to a preliminary phone call or phone interview, you won't be caught off-guard and will sound excited and ready to discuss the position.
7. PDF the file. And name it wisely.
It's best to PDF your CV before you submit it, to ensure all the efforts you've gone to in formatting it aren't lost when the recruiter opens it. This way, you can view your PDF on your screen, and print a copy, and know exactly how it's going to look when it's opened. You should check what the company prefers beforehand, though, as some will specifically request a Word document.
Finally, remember: the companies you're applying to work at may be inundated with applications. Sending them a document entitled "MY CV" is not helping anyone. Make their job easier and your CV more likely to get noticed by giving your document a simple title using the formula: "Last name, First name - Job Title you're applying for".