Finding a new job can be a daunting task. With the arena for submitting applications being more vast and overwhelming than ever, what are the mistakes that apply to any forum (whether online or good ol’ pen, paper and post) that could be holding you back?
We asked Career Coach Jo Thurman from Personal Career Management for the most common job application faux pas that she finds prevents clients reaching their full career potential. From finding your focus to Word forewarnings, here’s Jo’s top career advice for ensuring you put your best foot forward from jobs board to interview.
1. Not doing your research
“The first one to start with would be launching into a job search before doing any research into why you are looking for a new job and what kind of job you’re looking for,” says Jo. “Typically what usually happens is that people realise it’s time they moved on and then launch into a search without being clear in their own mind what prompted them to make the move in the first place.
“Target your time well to ensure you’re effective in your job search,” she recommends. “Prepare and start with some sort of clear brief for why you’re looking to make the move.
“Sit down and write down why you are looking for a new job and what you are looking for to see if you need to fill a gap in your CV, if you need training and where you hope your next role will take you in your career path so you can see if it’s the right job for you and ensure you’re able to better evidence that in your application.”
2. Not tailoring your application
“Once you’ve identified a role to apply for, again, spend time researching that organisation and take a tailored approach,” recommends Jo. “Research the organisation by looking at their site, their tone of voice, their Twitter account, Facebook - anything that will give you more insight into the type of organisation it is and whether it is a good fit for you.”
3. Neglecting your covering letter
“Very often, your covering letter can prove extremely valuable,” says Jo. “It goes beyond saying, ‘I’m sending you my CV for the position of...etc.,’ you’re telling someone why you’re applying and so you need add value to it to help the recruiter or potential employer clearly see why you’re applying for the role, highlighting why you’re a good fit and why they should pick you to be interviewed.”
4. Relying on spellcheck
“Next, review your CV,” says Jo. “Check whether anything needs tweaking in terms of what you want to highlight in terms of relevant experience.
“A very common mistake is relying on spellcheck as it doesn’t pick up all mistakes. In the research we conducted for our book, "You’re Hired! CV: How To Write A Brilliant CV,” £9.99, we found 9 out of 10 CVs had mistakes in them - it’s a very high stat. Recruiters and potential employers may view that as a predictor of your attitude and question your attention to detail.”
5. Not following the online application process
“Another mistake is not following the process outlined, such as abiding to application dates or ignoring requests to upload your CV and covering letter - follow the process and include all of the attachments that they suggest,” cautions Jo. “As online applications can be very quick and easy, allowing applicants to just ‘click apply,’ it’s a very common mistake. Technology makes it so easy to make multiple applications but it doesn’t generate high levels of response and success. Applying for fewer jobs where your applications are well-researched and tailored are more likely to be successful.
“In the past if you had to post a CV, you would do so with a covering letter. Although the technology of job boards has provided ample opportunities, they shouldn’t take away the need to take your time, prepare a tailored application and include a covering letter too.”
6. Not following up
“Once you’ve applied, follow up,” recommends Jo. “If you’ve made five well-targeted, well prepared applications, you’ll have the time to follow them up. If you’ve made multiple ones, it can be very difficult. Follow your applications up and see whereabouts your application is in the process - the idea being to start a dialogue.
“The way to follow up depends on the way you’ve applied. If your application was made to an unnamed individual or using application software, it can be tricky, so all the more reason to differentiate yourself in a tailored, well-crafted application - the chances someone will contact you are that much higher. If your application was made to a smaller company or a recruitment business to a named individual, contact them after 2 or 3 days via phone to check your application has been received or processed. Ask if there’s anything that they would like more details about and express your interest. Never be shy to confirm that you’re interested in the opportunity and that’s why you’re following up. It makes the organisation feel that you’re looking for their job and not a job.”