1. Not Tailoring Applications
This is by far the most common complaint we receive. Every job application needs a tailored approach, that means writing a new cover letter and tweaking your CV to the job description. It’s obvious when a CV and cover letter are generic and employers and recruiters hate it!
2. Not Writing a Cover Letter
Sorry guys, cover letters aren’t dead, for some recruiters they’re more important than your CV. And even if they’re ignored at first, recruiters will often go back to the cover letter when stuck between candidates.
So ‘Dear whomever it may concern, I’d like to apply for X position and my CV is attached.’ Just isn’t going to cut it. When people ask us for cover letter advice we always start by directing them to this great video by Aimee Bateman of CareercakeTV – How to write an incredible cover letter
3. Spelling and Grammar Mistakes
Silly mistakes in applications still happen all the time. I don’t subscribe to the point of view that this is because everyone’s careless and illiterate – it’s just very difficult to proof read your own work, that’s why companies hire proof readers.
But unfortunately that doesn’t make it any less important to have a mistake free application, try these tips:
Get someone else to read it through. Friends, family, anyone. If you have a good friend whose job seeking as well why not set up a system where they read through all your applications and you do the same for them – it’s much easier to pick up on other peoples’ mistakes than it is your own.
Speak out loud. When checking through your own work read aloud, it stops you automatically skipping over words.
Brush up on your basic spelling and grammar. Your vs you’re, there their and they’re, when to use apostrophes etc, here’s a great resource from Bristol University – Grammar Tutorial.
4. Listing Common Hobbies
Hobbies either need to be relevant to the job description or be something that’s a bit unusual and makes you stand out. Reading, shopping, going out, watching movies, watching the news – these things shouldn’t be listed unless they are specifically relevant to the position.
5. Not Having a LinkedIn Profile
It doesn’t absolutely have to be LinkedIn, but somewhere online you need to have a professional profile and you should provide a link to it with the contact details on your CV.
Not having an online CV demonstrates that you’re not moving with the times, that you’re not utilizing all the networking avenues available to you. Having one gives you an opportunity to showcase yourself with a little more room and freedom than on the standard paper CV.
Employers are becoming increasing keen on their staff (particularly younger staff members) having a good grasp of social media and other online marketing platforms. A professional twitter account, LinkedIn profile and blog – all linked to on your CV – is a great way to show off your online capabilities.
6. Damaging Social Media Accounts
Set your Facebook profile to private and watch what you say on twitter! Even Youtube comments can be found if you use the same name and email address.
Spend an hour Googling yourself using chrome’s incognito browser (so you don’t get targeted results and automatic sign in’s). Use all the details a recruiter would have e.g. name, university, school, contact details. You might be shocked at how visible your online activities are.
7. Lack of Research
This links closely to tailoring each application, make sure you do your research for every job you apply to. Research the role, the industry and most importantly the firm.
Employers want to feel that you really understand the company right from the word go.
8. Lack of Commercial Awareness
Commercial awareness is right up there with experience – it’s something that employers want in candidates and something they feel graduate candidates don’t have. But unlike experience, commercial awareness is something you can gain very easily – just by putting in a little effort.
9. Not Following Instructions
If a job description asks for five pieces of supporting evidence then submit five pieces, not four, not six, but five! Not following job application instructions to the letter is an easy way to get your application thrown in the bin.
10. Applying for All the Jobs
Think quality not quantity with your job applications. It’s much better to send in 5 great job applications a week then 20 careless ones.
If you’re skeptical about this tactic, just give it a try for one week. If you spend the time – finding the right vacancies, researching the position thoroughly, putting together a great CV and cover letter tailored to that position – I can almost guarantee you’ll get better responses