Mistakes to Avoid When Applying For A Job

Mistakes to Avoid When Applying For A Job

Mistakes To Avoid When Applying for a Job

By Mark Wager

Finding that perfect job is difficult. In fact finding any job can be difficult in this tight job market. Some companies that I work with receive between one hundred to two hundred applications for a basic entry level position. Out of these applications they will typically shortlist only about six to eight applicants per position meaning that there is a less than five percent chance of being shortlisted for a typical position. With the odds being so much against you even getting an interview, is there anything you can do to change things so the odds are in your favour? What can you do to avoid getting that dreaded standard email saying "thank for your interest but you were not shortlisted."

The simple answer is yes, you can avoid some of the common mistakes that many applicants make that automatically puts their application into the "no" pile. Recruitment is very subjective so I'm going to list the common mistakes that I've seen based on my own experience on recruitment. This is just my opinion and I hope these tips help.

Make a genuine effort.
A large bulk of job applications fall into the same category. People have opened up the job section of the newspaper or have logged on to a job sleeping website and have seen around ten or twenty jobs that fit their criteria and they've sent the same CV and cover letter to each position. When I look at a CV I look to see if the candidate has adapted the CV and covering letter for the position, if they have researched the company and if the demonstrate an understanding of the job they have applied for. Have they made a clear effort to explain what skills they have to do the job? Just by spending an extra few minutes on your application can increase your odds greatly because recruiters can clearly see the difference.

Show people your attitude
As an experienced Manager, I know that it's easier to teach people a skill set than it is to train someone to develop a good attitude. When you are applying for a position, especially an entry level position, ensure that above all else you supply evidence that you have a good attitude. Show me that you are trustworthy, show me that you are motivated, passionate and you want to make something of yourself in this world. Talent will only take you so far, it's your attitude that makes the difference in this world.

Never leave questions unanswered
Reading a CV and covering letter will never be as reliable as an in-person interview when it comes to judging someone which is why it's vital that the recruiter has as many questions answered as possible. Imagine what questions the recruiter would have when reading your CV and make sure you are providing answers to those questions in your application because if you don't you may never get a chance to provide answers in person. If you think the recruiter will question your lack of experience then explain why your lack of experience will not be a barrier. If you think the recruiter will consider you to be overqualified then explain in your application why you are not. When applying for a job you do not want the recruiter making negative assumptions because each assumption reduces your chance of being successful.

Demonstrate what value you can add
I had a call one evening from a senior partner from one of the top law firms in New Zealand. He called me to ask for a reference for someone who previously worked for me. My instant reaction was that I wasn't aware that they were recruiting to which his reply was that he wasn't. What happened is that my former colleague had researched the firm and contacted them to tell them what value she could add to the firm, in fact she contacted them several times. I remember that she was a fine lawyer but honestly she wasn't exceptional and her qualifications were very average but she had drive and initiative and it was this that impressed the partner of this top law firm. People recruit people because there's a need that has to be filled. She saw a need that the partner himself hadn't even recognised. She didn't wait for her dream job she went out and created it.
Finding a job can be difficult and being rejected can be incredibly demoralising but you can change the odds in your favour. A job application is not about putting your name forward and hoping for the best, it is about your opportunity to state how much value your employment can add to a prospective company and why you will be an asset that they can't risk losing.

Check out these other articles

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Common Myths About Entrepreneurship

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About the Author:
Mark Wager is a Leadership Coach who specialises in designing and facilitating leadership development programmes for individuals and teams across the Asia Pacific region. You can contact Mark via the enquiry form below.

Posted: Monday 25 January 2016


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