1. The font
For the love of all that is holy and employable, do not use Times New Roman. In an interview with Bloomberg, Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design dubbed it "the sweatpants" of fonts, saying that because it's the default option on most people's computers, "It's like telegraphing that you didn't put any thought into the typeface that you selected."
The font you should use instead? Simple, clean Helvetica (and definitely not Comic Sans, obvs). "Helvetica is so no-fuss," says Hoff. "It doesn't really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional, lighthearted, honest. Helvetica is safe."
2. Your spelling and grammar
You know this. We know you know this. But we bet there's at least one sneaky typo in there that your own eyes will never, ever spot (and in the case of slip ups like then/than, spellcheck won't either). When you've written something, your brain knows what you mean to say, meaning that it's much more forgiving if you've failed to actually properly say it on paper.
Bully your mom, friends, boyfriend, strangers or anyone in the near vicinity to give it another look, or if all else fails, read it aloud yourself. Yes, you might feel a little weird, but reading it out loud will definitely help.
3. The waffle factor
No, not the delicious-with-maple-syrup kind—we mean using five words when one would do. Cramming your CV with adjectives like "passionate," dedicated," "hardworking," and "reliable" may seem like a positive choice, but actually all you're doing is filling up space that you could be using to really sell yourself, and making it look like you don't have anything much else to say.
When you're writing, don't tell the reader what you are—prove it to them by telling them what you've achieved in the past, and why it would make you good at the job you're applying for. This way, they'll be able to tell that you have all of these great qualities anyway! Remember, less is sometimes more. Which bring us to…
4. The length
If your CV is longer than two pages of A4, you've probably included some info that you don't really need. The older you get, the less people need to know about your earlier achievements like first jobs and high school achievements—give it a trim by tailoring it to the specific position that you're applying for, detailing the experience and qualifications that are most relevant to the job in question.
If you're not under two pages now, consider reformatting some areas (for example, your address can take up one line, separated by commas, rather than five) to make it seem more succinct.
5. The file format
You might have the best, most amazingly creative CV in the world, but that means nothing if your prospective future employer can't open the darn thing. Go for standard file formats like .doc or PDFs - very few people want to click through a Powerpoint or similar just to find out if you're a good match for the job description.
Also, make a hundred, thousand percent sure it is actually the file you meant to attach – you don't want to end up like this gal, even if she did get a reply from Jamie O himself…
6. The sign off
Think "best" is best? Not always! Careers expert Paul MacKenzie-Cummins explains that this short sign off sometimes isn't so sweet, and often, actually just sounds lazy—something you definitely don't want to come across as to your potential new boss. "In general, the tone we see used in emails today is more relaxed than it once was. Part of the reason for this is the increased popularisation of so-called 'text-speak.'"
"This has had the effect of diluting and, arguably, dumbing down the language we use,' he says. 'It [best] hangs in the air leaving the recipient waiting with bated breath as to what is to come.' If it's a formal application, it's safer to go for the classic 'Sincerely Yours' or if the place you're applying for is more casual, a friendly 'Thanks so much' works too."
7. Your social media presence
Even if you haven't included your Twitter handle and the like on the actual resume, once your name hits their inbox, the first thing many employers will do is Google you and find your profiles anyway. Give all of your social media accounts the once over before you hit send to make sure you come across at least semi professional.
We're not saying you need to be behind a desk and in a suit in every snap, but whilst pictures of you having fun on holiday or at a party are fine, pictures of you on the floor after downing eleven shots are, well, not. If your Facebook tagged photos are too far gone to salvage before the deadline, at least set everything to private.
8. The subject line
Often, jobs will ask you to specify a particular reference number or title in the subject line to help them differentiate the messages from generic email, so when you're getting ready to construct yours, check to make sure you've not left anything off.
Companies get hundreds, if not thousands of applications for one position these days, and if you can't even follow the simple instructions in the ad, yours will probably be the first one in their delete folder!
9. Your contact details, duh
Check your email and phone number approximately thirty thousand times. Just think—get one letter or digit wrong, and you're not going to hear from them even if they do want to offer you an interview!