So, you’ve finished your application and you’re keen to hit the ‘Send’ button on your computer or lick the stamp. Don’t do it! Here are 14 essential things to do before you send your application:
1. Take a coffee break before you start
Let your application ‘sit’ for a few hours (or better yet a few days). Allow sometime after you finish writing to help you see your application with ‘fresh eyes’ when you proofread it – you’ll be amazed at the silly errors you’ve made.
2. Print a hard copy of your application for proofreading
It’s easier to identify errors on a printed page than on a computer screen, so always print out a completed hard copy to proofread.
3. Avoid fluorescent lighting when proofreading
The flicker rate of fluoro lights is slower than standard lighting, making it more difficult to pick up errors. Use strong natural light where possible. (If possible, move out of the room where you wrote your application — you’re probably sick of being there anyway — so that you’ll get a fresh perspective.)
4. Edit for content and structure
When editing content, ask yourself who, what, when, where, why, and how? Then, answer the next five questions honestly:
• Have you checked the structure of your application?
• Do the facts flow in a logical sequence?
• Have you used relevant examples that demonstrate your skills and abilities?
• Does your application answer all questions the employer may have about you?
• How would you respond to this application if you were the employer?
5. Run the spell checker and the grammar checker.
This is merely a first check. There are many mistakes that won’t be picked up by the spellchecker or grammar checker.
6. Look for words that sound the same but have different meanings.
Watch out for words that sound the same, but have totally different meanings such as ‘there’, ‘their’ and ‘they’re’.
7. Double-check titles, names, addresses, phone numbers and VRN for accuracy.
Employers and recruiters get a bit upset if their names are misspelled. Wouldn’t you? Make sure you check that you have used the correct vacancy reference number and that you have the correct phone numbers (triple check mobile numbers), email addresses and postal addresses.
9. Make your language active and dynamic.
In your résumé, you can omit the ‘I’ and start with a ‘power verb’ such as developed, directed, sourced, configured, and so on to give your application a ‘verbal turbo-boost’.
10. Double-check little words: ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘of’, ‘it’, and ‘is’ for typos.
It’s very easy to repeat these little words without meaning to, so read backwards to see if you have doubled up.
11. Check for your weak points.
Most people make a few mistakes on a regular basis. It might be the word ‘manager’ written as ‘manger’ or it might be ‘applicaition’ instead of ‘application’. Another very common error is ‘form’ instead of ‘from’. The spelling checker won’t necessarily see these words as incorrect so make a checklist of your common errors so that you won’t miss them when you are proofreading your application.
12. Proofread for one type of error at a time.
It’s easy to get distracted while proofreading, especially after writing an application that is more exhausting than running a marathon. Read through your application for each of your common errors separately. For example, start with checking spelling and grammar, then check through for incorrect use of homonyms, apostrophes, verb tenses, and so on.
13. Go over your application one last time.
Choose the techniques that work best for you.
• Read your application silently – ‘Look’ for mistakes.
• Read your application out loud – ‘Listen’ for mistakes.
• Point with your finger to read one word at a time.
• Use a screen (a blank sheet of paper to cover the material not yet proofed).
• Read it backwards to focus on the spelling or repetition of words, such as ‘and and’.
14. Ask a friend with good written skills to proofread your application.
This is one of the best methods of proofreading. When you check your own work, you tend to see what you intended to write, rather than what you actually wrote. A fresh pair of eyes will see what is actually there.
Good luck with your application.
Like to learn more? Check out ‘Get That Government Job: Secrets of winning positions with selection criteria’ or go to www.smartstartmarketing.com.au for free resources.