It can be frustrating; I know the feeling. And after a while, most of us start thinking we are being discriminated against or the companies we’re applying to already have their picks for the jobs they advertise. That may be true, but what if it’s not in your case? What if you are just not doing something right? This post is for you if you are actively searching for a job and applying to tons of them but are not getting call-ups for interviews, initial qualify calls, or even aptitude tests. Are you guilty of any of these?
- Your CV or cover letter has typos and grammatical errors
Imagine writing ‘Excelent communication and writting skills’ as one of your strengths. What an epic way to let the recruiter know you mean the opposite! (I hope you caught the joke). It is assumed that you have had time to prepare your CV and write your cover letter, so certain typos and errors are downright unacceptable. Like when you spell your own degree wrongly. Or when one company name is spelt a certain way in your CV and a different way in your cover letter. That’s not cool.
Solution? Use a word processor and turn on spell checking to catch such typos. If you can, have a professional proofreader (like us) take a look at your documents before you send them, since spell checkers will not find the inconsistencies in your spelling. After all, your dream job is worth the penny, isn’t it?
If you have dyslexia or any related disorder, have someone quality assure your writing for you; the world is becoming more inclusive by the day, but some people have not caught on to it yet.
- You are using ‘Easy Apply’ without reading the job requirements
You might have heard that your CV and cover letter should match the job you’re applying for. Whoever told you that was right. One hundred percent. And that is the exact reason why having a default CV which you use to ‘easy apply’ for all jobs on LinkedIn is such a bad idea.
I hear you – you’re thinking, ‘but most of the jobs in my field are so alike’. That’s true, but ‘alike’ and ‘the same’ are not the same. The jobs are not all asking for the same number of years of experience or knowledge of the same software applications in your field of work. So take time to go through the requirements and tailor your documents to match them. It can be overwhelming, but looking for a job is a job in itself, and the rewards are enormous when you take this job seriously.
- Your CV or cover letter does not clearly state your achievements
Most of us know we should include our responsibilities at every work experience in our CVs. What some of us forget to do is to state what we achieved while carrying out those responsibilities. Many others are applying for this job, and you need to prove that you are the best fit for it. Just stating ‘ability to work with minimal supervision’ as a strength is not as strong as showing how you achieved something with minimal supervision in the past.
For example, ‘I led the creation of academic content for all the six courses that were offered by the institute to three hundred undergraduate students in five different classes’. Now, that’s saying something. This is not the place to be modest. There is credibility in numbers. Use it to your advantage – without lying.
- You only send your CV and not a cover letter
When the job ad said, ‘Interested applicants should send their CVs and cover letters to…’, it meant just that. CV and cover letter. Are you one of those applicants who attach only your CV and accompany it with an email like: ‘please find my CV attached for the position in the subject’?
Newsflash: that email does not cover your achievements. Pas du tout. Your cover letter is your application letter. It is a great avenue to expand on your achievements. It’s the place where you throw more light on your CV in the first-person voice. It’s more personal than a CV. Don’t take it with a pinch of salt.
- Your social media posts
An employer (a friend) once told me how a guy applied to be an attendant at his shop and left his phone number behind for correspondence. My friend said he checked the guy’s WhatsApp status once, and it said something like, ‘I can’t kill myself for you just because you pay me’. My friend did not even bother to call him back. Perhaps the guy’s post was referring to how badly his past employer had treated him, but people won’t know the whole story from just a few misguided words you put out there.
While a recruiter may not have time to go through the social media handles of all applicants, they may check you out after an initial qualify call, when the applicants’ list is shorter and easier to handle. It will baffle you to know you did not make it to the interview stage, just because of something you wrote on social media. Keep your posts devoid of strong emotion. Delete the relatively trouble-causing ones you have already posted. Your social media posts say a lot about you as an applicant – unless you really would not like to work for someone who does not share the opinions you do.
- You have a ‘funny’ email address
Employers want to work with serious people. If your email address suggests anything but, most HR managers will not proceed with your application. Imagine being a recruitment agent and seeing email addresses like firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org in the pool of applications. If the company you’re recruiting for has a strict policy against sexual harassment (and most companies do!), then ‘playboy’ and ‘showmyboobs’ will most likely not make it – unless they’re applying to be on the cover of an erotic magazine.
This is debatable, as different hiring managers look out for different things. But just to be safe, keep your email address representative of your official name, preferably the name on your CV or resume, or any variants of your name (including numbers to make it unique) if your official name is already taken. You’re better safe than sorry!
By Patience Aba Sakyi
The author is the CEO of Claricon Consult ( www.claricon.co ), a communication service provider with expertise in writing, editing, design, and filmmaking.