There are a number of ways to apply for jobs and with the current job market showing no signs of improving there will be a lot of competition when applying for your next position. Here are 6 common mistakes to avoid to make sure you have the best chance of winning a job interview.
1. No Cover Letter
I have heard it said that up to 50 per cent of covering letters are never even read, suggesting to some that it is not necessary to provide a cover letter in the first place.
Not providing a Cover Letter is a big mistake. If 50 per cent of cover letters are not read… then it follows that half of the letters sent with CVs are indeed read. The role of the cover letter is to ensure that your CV gets to the person it is supposed to, and highlighting your unique talents, and these days employers expect to see some form of cover letter.
By neglecting to send your Cover Letter, either with your CV or an application form, you are missing the opportunity to sell yourself to the prospective employer and you may be waving your dream job goodbye.
2. Don’t avoid networking
If you have lots of experience in a role you may think that it will be easy to walk into a similar role. In some cases this might be true, but unfortunately this is proving ever more difficult in the economic climate.
In these tough times you simply can’t avoid using every method available to let people know you are looking for a job, and that includes networking and using social media sites. Use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook to advertise your CV and make connections within your industry or with prospective employers, e.g. a car mechanic may provide technical advice on a car maintenance forum which could lead to a job offer.
But nothing beats face-to-face networking and I can confirm that at least 50% of my friends have been employed at least once through personal networking. Tell your friends, family, former colleagues etc. that you are looking for a job and maybe they will know someone looking for an employee. Or join professional networks in your local area and make an effort to speak to the people that could be your next boss.
3. Don’t exaggerate your CV
Be proud of your accomplishments – you have got to where you are today with the hard work that you have put in. Certainly make sure you include all of your experience, use the job description and forums to see what specific skills the employer is looking for, and highlight where you have this experience – even if it is limited. But in no circumstances lie on your CV. Sometime this works and you get hired for the job… but what if your boss finds out – you’ll probably be fired immediately – or worse if they expect you to carry out tasks you are not capable of doing and this results in an accident. Not to mention that most lies can be identified with fact checks online or depending on the level of employment possibly a personal investigator, and your application will just be rejected or employment terminated.
4. Be professional
If you’re applying for a professional job, then demonstrate your understanding of professionalism by submitting a clean, black and white copy CV and Cover Letter. Rarely individuals chose to make their CV stand out by using weird fonts, graphics and stickers, and if a perfumed or coloured-in CV landed on my desk I would throw it straight in the bin… unless of course I was looking to fill a creative vacancy.
On the other hand, it is appropriate to amend and personalise a standard resume template as otherwise your CV could look like all the others in the pile and this would imply you lack the knowledge or imagination to reformat the standard template.
If your email address is anything other than a standard name then create a new one for your job search. Prospective employers don’t want to have to send an email to ‘[email protected]’ because it suggests something inappropriate, and would probably just bin the application.
Avoid using short-hand or abbreviated words, such as ‘pls’ or ‘LOL’ and write out words in full. Not only are you standing the chance of accidentally offending or confusing someone, but employers want to know you can tell the difference between social language and professional language. This is particularly true if you will be writing letters or emails in your new position.
Ensure that your spelling and grammar is accurate, and I would always recommend asking a friend to proof-read both your CV and Cover Letter as there may be items that a spell-checker doesn’t pick up on.
5. Think about the reader
Most employers will spend about 7 seconds scanning a CV and Cover Letter before they chose whether to put it in the ‘reject’ or ‘read in detail’ pile. That means you have to make sure the most relevant information, i.e. the skills that you have which match the job description, is easily identified by a reader.
Think about these seven seconds while you are writing your CV. Use short paragraphs to tell the employer what they need to know, use bullet points to list your skills, ideally that match the wording of the job description. This means that for every application you may need to tweak your CV and certainly you should re-write your Cover Letter every time.
6. Under-qualified applications
There are times when not having the required qualification is immaterial, for example if you have worked in an office for 10 years using Microsoft Office, but have no formal MS qualifications. It is likely that you possess the level of skill required and will be considered for the vacancy.
However if you are applying to be an electrician and you don’t have the industry standard qualifications as required on the job advert you will not get the job. You will be wasting your time and the employers time, and if your name is remembered by the employer it will be in a negative way.
In summary apply for jobs that you are capable of, take time to tailor at least your Cover Letter, and ideally also your CV to each application, talk to people (network) and listen out for possible jobs, and be persistent. It may be you have been on the job hunt for a while but keep positive and eventually it will happen! Good luck.