While there will always be those who at least appear to breeze through life landing any job they set their sights on, others have no such luck. Needless to say, those on the latter side of the fence more often than not will blame anything and everything but themselves, with a good chunk firmly believing they’re making all the right moves. Of course they’re clearly not, but accepting this can be a bittersweet pill to swallow to say the least.
According to the folks behind www.activerecruit.co.uk the assumption that those who struggle are either a) not good enough or b) too lazy, is wholly unfair and inaccurate. Instead, it’s a case of one, two or more common bad habits being fallen into and summarily followed without even realising.
So, specifically with those who may be struggling in mind, the following represents a very brief touch upon the most commonly-made mistakes of all, which once acknowledged are extremely simple to avoid:
Even the most skilled writers in the world have to proof-read their words dozens of times to make sure there are no mistakes remaining – and often there are dozens of them. You could slave over an application for days on end and genuinely believe it is 100% outstanding, but if you overlook a few simple mistakes here and there, those reading it will believe you rushed it and couldn’t be bothered. You can’t always rely on your own eye, so it’s a good idea to ask for a second or third opinion on this one.
There’s of course a strong call for formality when it comes to the job application and recruitment process, but when and where there’s an opportunity to make things personal…in a good way…you should take it. For example, if the name of the recruiter you’re applying to be listed, use it instead of the usual Sir/Madam. More importantly still, if their name and contact details are listed, use them to get in touch prior to or during your application process in order to ask a few intelligent questions about the role and the kind of candidate they are looking for. There are so many instances in which jobs are snared long before any of the other applicants’ CVs are even read in full, simply because one proactive candidate has taken the opportunity to reach out to those doing the hiring directly.
The very best way of finding out how to write a great cover letter is to download any bog standard template from the web and then do the exact opposite. Cover letters have the potential to exponentially drive or destroy your chances long before a word of your CV is read. In terms of getting it right, it’s all about creating a very concise introduction to who you are and what you stand for. Admittedly, this can be tricky with limited space to work with, but if you come out with a cover letter that reads the same as a million others, chances are that’s about as far as they’ll read. If you’re going to pen a cover letter, it needs to be high-impact, memorable and give them a reason to keep on reading.
Without any shadow of doubt, the single most common mistake and the one that most will go on making even after being told not to. For those looking to fire out as many applications as possible and hope someone bites, the standard way of going about this is to create something of a generic application template and then just swap and change the name of the company. From the cover letter right to the bottom of the CV, it’s a one-size-fits-all affair that makes bulk mailing strategies easy. Sadly, these kinds of applications can be spotted a mile away by recruiters and are about as attractive as poorly spelled and totally misguided applications from those with no chance at all. If you cannot be bothered making the application personal, you might as well not bother at all.
Last but not least, the real skill in penning a CV comes not in making sure you communicate everything about yourself, but in highlighting the important stuff and framing it with relevant details. Think of it this way – you may include a hugely impressive nugget about you, but for every totally unimpressive thing you write around it, the golden point loses its appeal. What’s more, if you hide these golden nuggets in among too much information in general, it’s inevitable that most of them will be scanned over and missed entirely.