Have you made these 10 mistakes in your job applications?

In All, The Job Hunter by Alli BakerLeave a Comment


Whether they are found in your attached resume, cover email or Workible profile, these are some of employers’ biggest pet peeves when it comes to job applications.  And they could be costing you a job.

10 “unforgivable” mistakes that almost guarantee your application will be declined:

  1. You didn’t read the job ad because if you did you would realise you’re NOT suitable. You are wasting your own time and the employer’s by applying for roles that you are not suitable for, so it amazes us that so many people still do it.  If the ad specifically states “Must have Hotel experience” or “Must be available weekends and evenings” and you don’t fit that “Must” factor, then don’t apply.  You aren’t going to win over or trick the employer with your irrelevant application. Now, if you are very nearly suitable for a role, then there may be an exception.  For instance, you’ve worked in retail for 2-3 years and you want to progress to a leadership role like supervisor but have no experience yet, then it may be acceptable to apply for a role that would be a step up the ladder if the employer can determine that you would be capable.  To determine this, they’ll look for skills/ abilities that would suit a supervisor role so make sure they are in your profile or resume. But as a standard rule of thumb, if you don’t meet the criteria then don’t apply.
  2. Cover emails/letters addressed to another business and/or making reference to another job. This happens so often, it’s shocking.  This mistake tells the employer that not only is your attention to detail questionable but worse, you really have your heart set on another opportunity and the application you’ve just sent them is your “Plan B” or you’re applying for any job you can find and therefore not really motivated by the opportunity they are offering. Not good.
  3. Unprofessional email addresses.  Maybe when you were just creating your online identity, it was funny or provocative to use an email address like “hottstuff_69@hotmail.com” but when you’re ready for the working world, it’s time to brainstorm a more professional email address because it’s often the very first impression you make on a potential employer.  In a market with many capable candidates, an employer is likely to ignore anyone with a stupid email address like ‘hot chick’. Does your email address make the same kind of impression you hope the rest of your application does?  When in doubt, change it!
  4. Generic Addresses & Statements. If there is a contact person included in the job ad details, address it to that person.  When you address a message or cover email to “whom it may concern” and then follow it with “I would like to apply for the above mentioned position”, these are far too general. The employer will assume you are sending out blast applications and have no regard for the actual position they have advertised. Employers value culture highly so they want to know someone is applying for their role because you want to work for them in that particular role and you’re not just looking for any job you can land. Stand out from other candidates by showing that you are interested in “this job”, not just “a job”.
  5. Too much waffle! Be succinct, don’t go on and on and on. Ask yourself, “Can I say the same thing in 5 words that I’ve just said in 100?” When a recruiter is selecting applicants for interview from a large pile of job applications, the ones that are specific and well set out are more effective. Avoid adding in irrelevant information in your Workible profile and resume.  As a first priority, an employer wants to see that you are suitable for the role so unless the information you provide supports that, it’s best to leave it out.  Personal information is okay as long as it helps support that you are a good cultural fit for the organisation and/or the role.
  6. Grammatical/spelling errors.  Not only do these errors make an employer question your English skills but it also inspires suspicion about your attention to detail and “care factor”.  They may wonder, ‘If you are this careless in your job application then would you be just as careless with the work required within the job?’ This is just as important – even more so – when using your smartphone to apply for a job since so many of us are used to taking shortcuts with text speak and grammar when using a phone to fill out profiles and send messages. Always take time to save your profile and re-read it to catch any errors.  Remember, your Workible profile = your application and you can send it off in just one click, so it’s worth taking the time to get it right.
  7. Wild and crazy application formats.  Using Workible, this is solved for you through the simply format of your profile but you should always have a back up version of your resume on hand should an employer ask for it so you want to make sure the format of this is just as clear and easy to read. Choose a suitable font and format and avoid lengthy, over designed “works of art” that will get you the wrong kind of attention.
  8. Adding generic skills and descriptors such as “people person, positive can-do attitude, enthusiastic”. Unless you are using these words to back up your skills and accomplishments, leave them out. These skills are overused and you’re better off leaving these out to add more hard-skills or work experience. Once you land the interview, the employer will be able to identify whether you possess these traits. You should also never sell yourself with a single line like ‘3 Years Retail Experience’. Be specific and describe your work experience succinctly, your role and responsibilities, your challenges in this role and how you overcame them and any relevant certificates or awards. When employers pick up a resume and see ‘retail experience’ or ‘hospitality experience’ without provided evidence, they’d automatically assume that this information is false, or the applicant does not have the amount of experience that he/ she has claimed.
  9. Over-exaggerating your abilities. Don’t add skills in unless they are truly skills you can demonstrate. More is not necessarily better in this case.  Keep your skill list short and sweet.  A good test before adding it to your profile or resume is to ask yourself, “What would a potential employer likely look for in hiring someone for the job I want? And, can I genuinely say I have that skill?” The risk with putting in dozens of keywords or skills into your profile is you’re creating noise.  An employer will quickly scan that long list and if the ones they’re looking for don’t catch their eye, they’ll quickly move to the next applicant.  It’s much more effective for you to emphasize the skills you can bring to the role.
  10. Showing a lack of respect the Recruiter.  We see a shocking amount of job seekers who respond to job ads with “What’s the pay”, “Contact me” or some other one-line demand that demonstrates a complete disrespect for the person on the other side of the job ad not to mention the opportunity that is available.  If you are interested in a job opportunity, you need to put your best foot forward.  So, before you respond to a job ad with “Hey, send me more information” think about whether or not that’s going to make the very busy recruiter want to respond to you when they also have candidates replying to them with appropriate applications.  Mutual respect is key in recruitment, but you won’t earn respect if you don’t give it.

Now, some employers may see things like spelling mistakes as just irritating, while others see it as a trigger for an automatic rejection.  And, it can depend on the job being applied for — but, while an employer may overlook it if you make one of the mistakes above, do you really want to run that risk? 

If you’d like our team of Job Matchmakers to review your Workible profile and help to increase your chances of landing your next job match, contact us — we’re happy to help!

Alli, Google+

Eternal Optimist. Self-Confessed Nerd. Seashell Collector. Philly Native. Status Quo Challenger. Speaker. Author. Futurist. Co-Founder & CEO of @Workible

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