28 May 6 Biggest Job Application Mistakes You Must Avoid at All Costs
It can be frustrating when you send in your application for a job opening, but the hiring manager doesn’t respond to you. Apart from the fact that the job market is competitive as ever, the reason you don’t hear back from hiring managers might be from some of these limiting job application mistakes I am about to share with you.
Many job applicants do not take into serious consideration that their application is the first point of contact with the company they are applying to — it is an opportunity to slingshot your copy into the hiring manager’s shortlist. Therefore, you must do everything necessary to grab that opportunity and make the employer go wild over your copy!
From my experience reviewing numerous applications within the past few years, the following are some of the biggest mistakes people commit while applying for jobs.
1. Not following the application procedure and poor email etiquettes
Here is the rule of thumb you should bear in mind when applying for any job: Every company has a recruitment process that prospective employees must follow. For the most part, it is usually simple and will be communicated in the application package. You will do yourself great service if you follow whatever procedure they require of you.
If the job application is via email, ensure you add a subject line to your email. Because emails can contain viruses and irrelevant information, email headings are how busy people decide whether to open them or not. Also, I think it is generally unprofessional to send an email without a heading. For employers, how you do anything is how you do everything. If you cannot add a subject line to a mail that announces your first contact with the company, how likely will you do any different when you are hired?
Experts have said that a good job application subject line should 1) be professional, 2) be relevant, 3) contain the job title you are applying to, and 4) be short and straight to the point.
Here is an example of a good job application subject line: Administrative Assistant Job – Edith S. Boakye.
Further, your email address should reflect the professionalism you seek to portray. Emails such as firstname.lastname@example.org are a turn-off for many hiring managers. A better and more professional email address would be email@example.com. Some recruiters recommend that you set up a separate email account for job-related purposes.
Finally, on this note, ensure to keep your email content as brief as possible. Errors in grammar and spelling will be the first thing that will catch the employer’s attention. So, please do yourself a favor and spell-check it before clicking send.
2. Sending a poorly written resume
One major deal-breaker in a job application process happens over the resume. Regardless of size or industry, this study suggests that many recruiters, hiring managers, and human resource professionals are still utilizing resumes as the basis for a great first impression in a recruitment process.
In a recent survey of over 300 hiring managers, Top Resume reveals that the followings are the biggest resume deal breakers candidates should avoid:
- Spelling and/or grammatical errors
- Incorrect or missing contact information
- Unprofessional email address
- Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status)
- Failure to demonstrate and quantify results
- Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing
- Too generalized/not customized to match job listing
- Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions
- Including a headshot (the photo may be distracting or unprofessional)
- Format and/or design is too elaborate (a one-page resume is more ideal for most resumes)
Don’t play checkers when your mates are playing chess. Get a resume that puts you at an advantage here.
3. Not adding a good cover letter
One of the most crucial tools in your job application arsenal is a cover letter. If it is true that a resume is like an appetizer to a hiring manager, then the cover letter is like the main ditch for determining if the candidate will proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process (in some instances, the reverse may be the case).
A cover letter allows you to target the recruiter and job more directly; highlighting your skills in a way your resume cannot. Click To Tweet It is also your sales copy to show the employer why the job is of interest to you and why you’re the one he or she must hire.
Therefore, ensure to put some thought into developing this piece of real estate. Be diligent in your research of the company; understand whom to address your copy to, and skillfully highlight the keywords relevant to the job while demonstrating that your personality fits the organization’s culture – that is, if it actually does.
Also, keep in mind that with an increasing number of software tools being utilized to navigate a stockpile of applications, the cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager will see, especially as the pile minimizes ideal candidates.
4. Not knowing the company you’re applying to
You’ve read the job application, and you’ve made your resume waterproof. Now, you want to quickly send in your resume to be the first thing the recruiter will see. While it can be useful to send your resume as early as possible, you miss a great opportunity to research the company.
As any recruiter will tell you, there is nothing as frustrating as calling a candidate for an interview only to find out that he or she does not know anything about the company’s business.
For starters, researching the company will help you tailor your cover letter, as explained above. It also helps you connect with people that already work there and gives you the chance to determine if the company is headed in the direction you want to go.
5. Not keeping a good social media presence
Here’s another secret for job seekers: Most hiring managers will check out candidates’ social media presence before making a job offer. In this digital age, the first thing most recruiters do before contacting you is to Google your name (your LinkedIn profile is usually their first destination). If you have not kept a good social media presence, you will be at a loss.
For a technical role as a web or software developer, I will want to see some repository on Github or websites you’ve built.
No company will hire someone they perceive as a reputation hazard. Hence, endeavor to keep your profiles as professional as you can get and watch your comments and posts. It is easy to get entangled in a “flame of war” that means nothing to you but might matter very much to your prospective employer. More so, be careful that you don’t vent your frustrations about brands or people online — you never know where your next job may be coming from.
This article has further recommendations from recruiters on keeping a great social media presence when looking for a job.
6. Lying in your application
One major reason a resume is not an objective source of information for a recruitment decision is that many applicants lie on their resumes. Consequently, employers are devising numerous strategies to catch those who tell a fib through various online and backdoor reference checks.
If a recruiter determines that a candidate lied in his or her application, that will be the end of that candidate’s chance of ever getting a job in that company.
Another reason it is inadvisable to lie in your application is that even if you don’t get caught in the recruitment process, it will eventually come up at some point. When that happens, you will not get away with it. Experts recommend that “by making friends with employees on networking sites like LinkedIn, job seekers can demonstrate how their personalities and aptitude are a match for the employer and this makes not having exact match inexperience less of an issue.”
Twitter can also be a good place to network with prospective employers(Use these tips to network like a pro).
The job search process can be extremely overwhelming and tedious. But, when you finally find that opening that matches your qualification or can be a great stepping stone to your career goals, you want to ensure that you put in the efforts by making your application irresistible to the hiring manager. In the words of Vince Lombardi, the price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.
Looking for a job? Get a resume that puts you in the best light here.
Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder and President of Stars From All Nations, an education company that unlocks African youth’s potential through EPIC events and an immersive career accelerator called ReadyForWork.Africa. A business strategist and trainer, Tom-Chris enjoys helping entrepreneurs and rising professionals to be successful and has consulted for brands such as the MasterCard Foundation, GIZ, British Council, among others. He is the author of the classic self-help book Breaking the Limits. Forbes, DW, Business Insider, SABC, and other publications have featured his works. Tom-Chris is a thought leader on youth development, social entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and the future of work. You can find him on Social Media via @tomchrisemewulu.