It can be frustrating for employers to have to wade through hundreds of untidy, misspelled applications every time they advertise a new post. However, what can be equally frustrating is coming across an application which has a lot of potential but doesn’t quite hit the mark. Employers are able to tell when an application is sincere yet lacking something and it can be irritating for them to have to discard it when it could have achieved so much more.

At the moment, despite a slow economic recovery, there is still fierce competition for every job so getting an application right first time is incredibly important. Here are some pointers for graduates, young professionals or anyone struggling to secure an interview.

Follow every instruction

If your application should be posted, do not assume you can just email it as an attachment if you’re too close to the deadline. If there are specific guidelines, read them carefully. Whether you’ve applied for a hundred jobs or just one, never assume that you know what they’re thinking and can skip a few steps. One missed instruction could mean your application is tossed before it’s even looked at.

Proofread, proofread, proofread

Some employers may be realistic about spelling and grammar mistakes as we all make them from time to time. Others will literally comb your application with a highlighter and mark out every single mistake. It’s better to be on the safe side and read through your application several times before sending.

Don’t use buzzwords

Don’t use overly professional language or management-speak if you’re not sure what you’re really saying. Dressing up your achievements by using words which you never use in everyday life will make you seem disingenuous. An employer can tell when you’re not being sincere.

Don’t admit to lack of experience

Hopefully, you’ll be applying for your chosen position because you have all of the relevant skills. However, because employers are currently expecting more and more from candidates, it could be that there are one or two tasks you haven’t come across before (even though you’re completely confident you can achieve them).

In this case, don’t say you don’t have experience concerning the tasks. You don’t have to lie, just focus more on the skills you do have. If you start a sentence with “Unfortunately…”, you can bet it’ll be seized upon, highlighted and your application will go in the REJECTED pile.

Be confident in your abilities

It doesn’t matter if your only experience is as a cashier at McDonald’s, you will still have relevant skills to draw on. What specific tasks are you responsible for? Have you been commended for anything recently? Do you manage a team? How have you handled a stressful situation? The key to writing a good application is to believe in your skills first and foremost. Don’t feel you have to dress up the truth – chances are you are already harbouring some impressive abilities.

Do you struggle with job applications? Or are you someone who always gets an interview? Let me know in the comments.