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Things not to do when applying for jobs

Posted by Jonathan Meyrick, almost 6 years ago

3 min read

We’ve written plenty of times about what you should do when applying for a job, from CV writing to building rapport in an interview, and even whether you should take the offer if you’re successful. But what about the pitfalls you need to avoid? Let’s take a quick run down of 10 things not to do.

1) Don’t only look for things you already have experience in

It’s common nowadays to change your career several times, not just your job, so you shouldn’t feel boxed into only applying for fields where you have experience. Spend some time thinking about your transferable skills, and maybe look into other industries or types of job where they’d be in demand. Keep your mind, and your options, open.

2) Don’t rule yourself out because you don’t have everything they ask for

Plenty of people do this. The advert lists 13 requirements, but you only have 10 of them. Should you even bother applying if you don’t meet all the criteria?

Definitely! There will be some big ticket items the company won’t compromise on, and it’s up to them to make that clear in the job advert. But a lot of the other things they ask for will be a bit of a wish list.

3) Don’t use a ‘one size fits all’ application

It’s so important to tailor your application to the role and company you’re applying for. We know, it’s a hassle and if you’re applying to lots of places it can be a lot of work. But if you send out standard versions of your CV without spending time thinking about what the person on the other end it is looking for, you’re putting short term ease above your chances of actually being successful.

A job application is your chance to make a first impression. Invest some time in making yourself look the part.

4) Don’t forget to research the company

Part of tailoring your application is understanding who you’re applying to. That doesn’t just mean what they do, but who they are and what they stand for. The company will be looking for someone who’s interested and engaged, and who shares their values. Start with their website, and remember social media is a great, fast moving resource to help you dig a little deeper.

5) Don’t lie on your application

Some studies suggest as many as 85% (this link opens in a new tab) of people have been guilty of this at one time or another. But don’t take comfort from safety in numbers. Get caught and you could be blacklisted from any future applications, or even dismissed from your new job. The reward may seem tempting, but the risk is too high. And besides, who wants to start out on a fib?

6) Don’t rewrite War & Peace

Your application is going to be read by a person (at least until the AI takes over), and that person is likely time poor. So don’t be tempted to lay out your credentials and motivations at great length. Instead, concentrate on being concise and having impact.

7) Don’t forget to proof read

It may seem harsh, but spelling mistakes and errors can lead to even the best qualified people landing on the rejection pile. Check your application yourself, but get someone else with good attention to detail to check it for you too. They’ll find the things you’ve stopped being able to see after reading it too many times.

8) Don’t rush to answer questions in your interview

It’s normal to be nervous in interviews, and nerves can affect us in all kinds of ways. Take your time if you need to think about the question and structure your answer. Remember: act in haste, regret at leisure.

9) Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback

You might not always feel like it when you’ve just been turned down for a job you really wanted, but always asking for feedback is one of the best habits you can have. There are few things more helpful for your development than good, constructive feedback, and after a job interviews is one of the best times. The company may not always be able to grant it to you, but you should make sure you always ask.

10) Don’t get discouraged

We’ve saved maybe the hardest until last, but it’s the most important. Especially if you’re currently out of work. If your applications keep being rejected, it can sometimes feel like nobody will ever say yes. You may to tempted to give up. But don’t. Remember that you might have been up against really tough competition, and it’s not necessarily your fault they said no. Keep going and keep doing the right things. And good luck.

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