Common mistakes to avoid on your job application

When you are applying for a job, the employer will make their first impression of you based on the quality of your application.

On average, recruiters only spend six seconds reviewing each application, so simple mistakes like spelling and grammatical errors can be costly and are likely to put your resume at the top of the ‘no’ pile.

Candidates tend to worry more about the face to face interview, but if your application isn’t up to scratch you may not even reach that stage of the recruitment process.

With such a short window of opportunity to make a good impression, take the time to focus on getting your resume and cover letter right and avoid making some of these common mistakes:

1. Not addressing the Selection Criteria
If the employer/recruiter asks for you to address the selection criteria, then make sure you do it. Ignoring this request will send your CV straight to the no pile as it is a good indication that you don’t always follow instructions.
When writing your selection criteria, use each point as paragraph headers in your cover letter and try to keep this to one page. Keep it short and relevant and leave yourself something to talk about in the interview.

2. Not tailoring the cover letter to the job at hand
Make sure you tailor ever cover letter to every application, making sure you attach the correct version! While this can be time consuming, a cover letter is where you sell yourself to prospective employers and showcase relevant skills and experience that align to the position you are applying for. If you submit a generic cover letter, employers won’t be able to properly gauge your suitability to the role. Keep a generic cover letter as a template but be sure to edit each time you apply for a new job and list skills and abilities that correlate to the position description.

3. Not listing relevant duties of your positions held
Don’t assume the recruiter will know what you do by your job title. Briefly list in dot points the duties/accountabilities of your positions and include notable achievements and successes during each position, which could be anything from successfully designing and implementing a product, managing a project from start to finish or achieving sales targets; the key is to highlight your unique selling points.

4. Not proof reading applications for spelling/ grammar mistakes
Spelling and grammar mistakes are the most common errors people make in their job applications. While we are all human and making mistakes is a part of life, spelling/grammatical errors make your application look unprofessional.
Always proofread your application several times before you submit and sometimes it helps to give it to a relative or friend to review as a fresh set of eyes can help pick up any mistakes you may have missed.

5. Not explaining any gaps in employment history
There are lots of perfectly valid reasons to have a gap in your employment history. Where you can (and feel comfortable doing so) try and include a brief explanation. On your resume it is important to list your employment history in reverse chronological order (more recent roles first) so the recruiter can see what you have been doing recently.
Before you submit your application, make sure it is easy to read and comprehend, that your contact details are current and easy to locate on the document and don’t forget to include referee details or advise that “referee contact details can be supplied upon request”.
Lastly, always check the advertisement to ensure that you have completed and provided all the information requested.

Best of luck!
HVTC Recruitment Team

Looking for an apprenticeship or traineeship? Click here to check out our current vacancies.

Illustration of a paper resume and job application form