cover letter

What an Employer Expects When You Are Applying for a Job


Day in and day out, job seekers question why they aren't hearing back from hiring managers or getting interviews. I hear people regularly comment that it's the market or that there aren't any jobs right now. Although the market may fluctuate, there are jobs. With each job posted, there are hundreds to sometimes thousands of people applying for one or more jobs at a time. So, instead of blaming or side-stepping external factors such as the economy or the job market or the government, focus on you. Focus on being smart and competitive in a world where the job market is constantly changing. Focus your time and energy on making you and your resume stand out from the competition. To do that, you have to be strategic and also ensure that you are not making the same mistakes as thousands of other job seekers do every day.

In addition to thousands of job seekers actively looking for employment, there are thousands (more so hundreds of thousands) of articles talking about resume etiquette, interview preparation, dos and don'ts, etc.

Today, this post will join the others BUT I hope to bring attention to the most important factors related to the process of applying for a job. As well, this article focuses on the employer's side - what are they looking for when reading your resume?


Before finalizing your resume or cover letter and officially applying for a position, review and answer these questions:

  1. Is your contact information correct?
    I know that this should be a give-in. Unfortunately, I have reviewed and received more than one resume that not only had the applicant's name spelled incorrectly but other points of contact were incorrect as well. This section is one that people usually skip over when proofreading because they assume that it's correct.
    If you can't take the time to make sure that your own name is spelled correctly, a hiring manager is not interested in learning about what other mistakes or details you will miss being a part of their team.
    Additionally, if your contact details are incorrect, how do you expect a hiring manager to get a hold of you to set-up an interview?
    Take the time to review these details and ensure your contact information is correct.

  2. Is your resume/cover letter updated?
    This ties into #1 - has your address, phone number or email address changed? If yes, ensure you update your contact details.
    If you have recently left your previous position, have you updated your resume to discuss your last role and responsibilities?
    For a lot of hiring managers, they only care about your last position. They want to learn what company employed you, what your responsibilities included, and the length of time that you worked for that company.

  3. Have you tailored/customized your resume/cover letter to the job posting?
    I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to tailor your resume and cover letter for each position. Each employer has taken the time to clearly lay out what their expectations are for the position they posted. If they wanted to receive resumes where they have to try to read between the lines and guess that - "of course, this person has enough experience to do the job" - then, they wouldn't have written the detailed job posting to begin with.
    Take the time to clearly draw connections between the experience, education and skills that are important or required in the job posting to the experience, education and skills on your resume. You connect the dots - don't make the employer go hunting. Make it simple for them. Give them a reason to want to contact you, learn more about you, and even be excited to hire you.

  4. Have you followed the instructions on the job posting?
    If the job posting says to apply via email, apply via email. If it says to apply in-person between 2pm-4pm, that's when you apply in-person. This is your first test in demonstrating that you can follow instructions. If you choose to follow a route that is not listed because it is more convenient for you, don't expect to get a phone call. Don't expect the interview.

  5. If applying via email, is your email address appropriate? or are both perfectly fine personal email addresses. As an employer, if I receive an email from either of these two addresses, I may make assumptions that could impact my impression of you and impact whether I invite you for an interview. You may not agree that an employer should do this, but every employer is human, and humans make judgments and assumptions. For example, I may assume that Tim was born in 1954, or I might assume that Dora likes dungeons, dungeons and dragons or even go a little darker.
    I recommend creating a new email address to use when applying for employment. Appropriate examples include or If your name is taken, try rearranging your first and last name, adding a middle initial or adding numbers that make sense but don't relate to your birthday, social insurance number or any other distinguishing trait about you.

  6. Have you proofread your whole application - resume, cover letter, etc.?
    I have to ask! When an employer sees an error - whether spelling, grammar or contextual - it is still an error. This document is supposed to represent you on paper. If I see one or more errors throughout your resume, you have demonstrated that you are not detail-oriented. Employers see errors as unprofessional. Some even see errors as being disrespectful because you are wasting the readers time. Proofread! A really easy method is to read your document out loud. Or, ask a friend/family member to proofread it for you. If all else fails, I'm here to help!

  7. Do a test email.
    I always encourage clients to email themselves first, so that they can see what the employer would see. This helps to identify and correct any errors before you send your application.


If you apply for a job and disregard any or all of the notes above and below, you are wasting not only the employer's time, but your own. Make each application count! Show them who you are and what you can contribute to the job and company.

Here are some basic DON'T DO IT tips:

  1. Don't submit a resume/cover letter that contains spelling and/or grammar errors - I just wanted to throw this in one more time!

  2. Don't use the same resume for every job application. See rational above.

  3. Don't submit your application the way you want to; show the hiring manager that you can follow instructions.

  4. If you are applying in person, don't appear unprofessional or act disrespectful.
    This is your first impression. Dress appropriately - don't wear your street clothes when dropping off your resume. Take the time to wear appropriate business attire, depending on the job and company. No excuses!
    Smile and be polite with all staff that you engage with while on company property. Many hiring managers ask their staff to report back their first impression of potential employees.
    Be respectful to the front desk administrative assistant. This person is typically the gatekeeper for the company and holds more power than you assume.

  5. If applying via email, don't leave the body of the email empty.
    Ensure you write a brief paragraph introducing yourself and what job you are applying for in the body of your email.
    Clearly fill out the subject line. Sometimes the job posting tells you what to write in the subject line. If it doesn't, simply include the job title that you are applying for.
    Proofread for errors. The spelling and grammar check tool in email programs does not check for errors in the subject line.
    Make sure to have a professional signature when ending the email.

  6. Use appropriate file names for attachments.
    Remember, hiring managers can see the file names of each attachment you send them. The file name Doc1.docx does not appear professional, nor does it appear that you know how to use the 'Save As' function properly. This might conflict if in your resume you say that you are an expert Word user.
    Proofreading isn't just for the resume and cover letter.

I hope you enjoyed this post. I wish all of you the best of luck when applying for a new position.

I encourage you to leave comments and feedback, as well as other tactics that you use when applying for jobs.

If you would like some assistance with your own resume or cover letter, please connect with me at