Mistake #1: Job Seekers Often Present Themselves Poorly
It seems to me that after having assisted over 60 clients over the last year and a half, many job seekers in Australia do not understand how they are presenting themselves to recruiters. If recruiters make a decision about whether to continue looking at a resume within 6 seconds of opening the document, then a job seeker's first page of resume needs to be concise, very clearly organised and informative. Instead, many job seekers have used formatting that forces the recruiter to waste time finding the key detail that is of interest to them. Additionally, job seekers tend to put unimportant or peripheral information on the first page which takes up precious page ‘real estate’. Recruiters want to easily find the critical points about job candidates in those first 6 seconds of reading a resume.
Mistake #2: Job Seekers Use a Single Strategy
Job Seekers often use a strategy for applying for jobs that they feel comfortable with, and it’s fair enough. However, it is more prudent to use a multi-pronged strategy when looking for jobs. Ideally, visit companies you are interested in and use Linkedin / a courtesy call beforehand to find out the name of the person you really need to speak to. Is it a project manger who makes the staffing decisions? Is it the receptionist? Perhaps it’s the Director, if it’s a small company. Knowledge is Power.
Another prong to include in your job application strategy is to develop a well-presented Linkedin Profile and regularly engage in LinkedIn networking in conjunction with Seek.com and other job portals. Recruiters are often using multiple tools to find a suitable employee, so why shouldn’t you do the same when finding a suitable employer? This last prong is a long-term strategy, so start early, even when you are not currently looking for work. Using a multi-prong strategy when seeking jobs means that you increase your chances of getting an interview.
Mistake #3: Job Seekers Send Generic Cover Letters to Companies
If a company or job portal such as Seek.com provides the chance to send a Cover Letter, that is code for ‘send a Cover Letter, please’. When you send the Cover Letter make it personal. Don’t write “Dear HR", "Dear Recruiter" or "Dear Sir/Madam” — if you can help it. I know, I know, it does take more time, but you want the recruiter to take more time when reading your job documentation, don’t you? So it’s only fair that you put more effort into that application. Ideally, find out the name of the person who will be your recruiter and address the email and Cover Letter to that person. Make sure you spell their name 100% correctly. When asking over the phone or searching their name online, take that little extra time to get the recruiter’s name clear in your mind. There’s nothing worse than addressing a recruiter in a Cover Letter as “Grant” when his name is “Gareth”!
Mistake #4: Job Seekers Give Up Too Easily
Not every Job Seeker gives up too easily but it is very understandable and commonplace and that makes it worth talking about. A person may apply to many jobs and then hear nothing from the recruiter or company. Dead silence. There is a chance, however, that the recruiter hasn’t even received the applicant’s email. Perhaps they haven’t read it because they have been very busy and recruiting is not their primary role. They may be a project manager and they have an urgent project at the same time as the recruitment run. Guess which to-do item is higher priority for them at the moment? Yes, it is that urgent project that takes priority over the job application, unfortunately.
If you are applying for jobs, do call the company up after a week or two post-application and ask how the application process is going. If you know the recruiter’s name, ask to speak with them. If that leads nowhere, maybe consider visiting the company. Of course, you need to use wisdom or savvy about how regularly and how soon to do these steps, but the principle is persistence. Believe me, your persistence will be noted.
Mistake #5: Job Seekers Pin Their Hopes on a Single Application
Don’t pin your hopes on any application. Keep applying. It may well be that you are very highly qualified for a particular role. Unknown to you though, there are 400 other job applicants who are also suitably qualified. But this may not be true of another role which only has had only 20 people apply, and to be honest, you are the most suitable person who has applied for that role! Keep applying. Don’t pin your hopes on any single application.
Best of Luck.
About the author: Mark Chapman is a professional resume writer and job application strategist. Mark has assisted over 60 Australians to improve their job application documentation. He enjoys road cycling, drinking coffee with friends and hanging out with his wife. In Mark's 9-5 job, he enjoys helping clients find cost savings, improved asset management and plant uptime improvements by engaging 4D Delta's laser scanning services.