When a York University student accidently attached a JPG of Nicholas Cage to her application for an administrative assistant at the school (instead of her resume), images of the gaffe caught the attention of the web.

Laughter aside, this accident shows you can never be too careful when applying for a job, even if you attach a picture of an Academy Award winner.  Here’s a checklist to go over before sending out your next application.

Read the Job Description Carefully

The job description will direct the content of your resume and cover letter. Read it carefully and consider highlighting key requirements. This will help you focus your resume and cover letter and increase the chances of getting an interview.

Tailor Your Resume to the Job Description

Most job applications aren’t read by managers and people in the actual department. Resumes are read by Human Resource departments and sometimes by computer programs. Tailoring your resume to the job description improves your chances.

Label Your Files and Label Them Properly

If you keep your files in one big pile on your hard drive, that increases your chances of attaching the wrong file to your email. Avoid that by using a naming convention that makes it easy to find them. One of the easiest ways is to name your resume “FirstnameLastnameResume.doc” as this will make it easy for the HR manager to find you. You can also add the title of the job but be aware that it will make the title of your resume (and cover letter) very long.

Proof Read

People make mistakes and sometimes they’re as tiny as transposing two letters in a word. Read your resume and cover letter before you save them.

Read It Again but Out Loud

Most of us can’t really edit our own work because sometimes we’re not reading what’s on the page but what’s in our mind. That’s how mistakes get missed. Read all your documentation aloud and you’ll be surprised how quickly you will pick up spelling and grammar mistakes and awkward phrasing.

Get a Friend to Read Your Documents

As I was writing this, a friend of mine asked me to proofread her cover letter and resume. She’s a writer but knows that another set of eyes is crucial for a flub-free application. Ask a friend to read your cover letter and resume and look for grammar and spelling mistakes. If you have a friend who works in Human Resources, then consider asking them to look at your resume to see if it’s tailored to the job description.

Finally, keep your celeb and fandom files away from your career files. Nicholas Cage might be a great actor and possibly a little odd but he’s not going to get anyone a job at York. Well, unless he writes you a personal reference.

Follow-up: Apparently the Nicholas Cage photo emailer is achieving some success due to her instant Internet fame.