Yesterday was a fun day. I spent countless hours rattling through over four-hundred applications to the same job role, and I was spotting the same job application mistakes repeatedly.
I was just getting into the rhythm of things when one particular cover letter caught my eye from a lady called Tracey.
Tracey was sixty-two years old and hadn’t worked for most of her life, which she told me in the first line of her cover letter. She’d dabbled in the odd thing and whilst she didn’t have the skills outlined in the job description, she was sure she’d have at least some transferable skills.
This is a prime example of how you don’t get shortlisted Tracey.
One for the Reject Pile
After my first giggle of the day, I carried on sifting through the applications when another resume caught my attention.
Charlene had decided that the first thing an employer should see is that she’d spent the last two and half years as a ‘homemaker’.
Disclaimer: there is nothing wrong with being a homemaker.
Only, rather than a short one-liner explaining the gap in her resume, she decided to list homemaker as her most recent job, along with a detailed role description…
Running a household, budget management, stock control, maintenance and repairs, cooking healthy meals to name but a few. Very inventive but I’m pretty sure everyone who is fortunate to live in a home does all of these above tasks and most definitely doesn’t add them onto their CV.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen these job application mistakes. I once had to do a double-take when I saw the job title ‘home engineer’ with a similar role description.
Another one for the reject pile.
What shouldn’t you be doing?
But if I thought that was bad, I hadn’t prepared myself for the next application on the list.
Omar applies and tells me he’s been struggling to find decent employers and that we’ve clearly been struggling to find decent candidates (no idea where he got that from).
He follows by saying he will show up at the offices the next day ready to work.
Pretty sure that’s the start of a harassment case right there if he did actually show up. Luckily he didn’t.
Who knew acting in a recruitment capacity could be so…varied?
Most of the job application mistakes I’ve seen however, are ones that can be easily fixed. So what shouldn’t you be doing?
Applying with zero experience
If you have relevant transferable skills, name them. But if you’re clutching at straws to try to make your application meet the required job description, quit whilst you’re ahead. If you’re a barista, you’re probably not going to get the job of a solicitor (unless of course you’re fully qualified). It is possible to be under-qualified and get the job, but not in the way you’d think.
Applying with too much experience
Equally, if you’re massively over-qualified, you’re not going to land the role. Levels of responsibility and compensation are tailored specifically to a certain level of experience, so if you’re a manager applying for an entry-level job, the hiring manager is going to be more than a little dubious. Read the job posting carefully and quit applying for things below your pay-grade. Know your worth.
Not reading the instructions
If an employer asks you for a cover letter and resume, write a personalised cover note and attach your resume. Simple as that. You’d be surprised how many people don’t even get that far. Some employers might ask you to include a certain word in the subject line of your email to make sure you’ve read the entire advert. Read the instructions thoroughly. If you really want the job, you should take the time to apply properly, otherwise you’re wasting your time.
Not spell checking everything
There’s nothing worse than a sloppy CV or covering email, particularly if you’re applying to a role that requires you to have attention to detail. There’s plenty of spell checking tools such as Grammarly or even just the basic spell check tool on Word. Take your time and make sure you’re happy with what you’re sending to a potential employer.
And remember, first impressions matter.