Four pre-Christmas mistakes that could scuttle your application

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You should be sending resumes to recruiters before Christmas, but you shouldn’t be making these mistakes:

Waiting until January

It sounds counter intuitive, with hiring grinding to a seasonal standstill, but it makes sense to contact recruiters before Christmas rather than in the first quarter. Right now they have fewer active mandates, giving them more time to speak with candidates. And you may be able to get some 2013 hiring gossip before candidates who wait. “At this time of the year, a lot of headhunters are talking to their clients about headcount and staff budgets for the upcoming year,” says Christina Ng, associate director financial services, Robert Walters.

Showing off with a long resume

It’s a common problem in banking, especially for those who are (or think they are) experienced: listing every task on every deal you ever did. “Remember that any resume more than three pages is too lengthy for employers,” advises Ng. “If you want to stand out above the crowd, you must outline your achievements, don’t just list your job description. Highlight how you can contribute more and add value to the company as opposed to someone else of the same job title.”

Overlooking errors

Recruiters may only spend a few minutes (seconds, perhaps) reviewing your resume, but that’s still enough time for them to spot mistakes. “Don’t forget to spell check your resume before sending it to a recruiter,” says Jane McNeill, director, Hays Banking. “It’s the first impression your recruiter will have of you, so take the time to get it right. If possible, get someone to proofread it for you to check for any spelling, layout or typing errors.”

McNeill bemoans that this advice it is too regularly ignored. “It will affect your chances of receiving a call-back to an interview. If you don’t pay attention to the detail, it is too easy for your recruiter or their clients to assume that this reflects your overall work performance and ability.”

Not following up

Even though you have already sent off your resume, a recruiter still wants to know that you are interested in moving, so be proactive and call. “There is no need to leave 12 messages if you can’t get in touch with them, though,” says McNeill. “They are very busy, so a brief voicemail with your name, the position you applied for and a simple statement that you would love to talk further is all that’s required. You will also be surprised how far being polite will go.”

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