Application forms can be a minefield. How can you make yourself stand out from the crowd? Have you sold yourself short? Here are 5 top tips on what to avoid, when applying for a role.
1. Don’t forget to follow the instructions
It may sound simple but following any instructions included on the application form is crucial. Does it ask you to list your A-levels? Do you need to state whether or not you can work in the UK? No matter what the answer, you need to make sure you do what is asked of you. It all comes down to attention to detail.
If you can’t get the first part right, how are potential employers going to have faith in your abilities at their company?
2. Pay attention to detail
As mentioned in the previous point, attention to detail is measured in numerous ways. Don’t miss out on your preferred job because you were distracted. Keep an eye out for the following:
- Have you included the appropriate attachments? CV’s, cover letters and any other documentation should be included if necessary.
- Spelling and grammar: if in doubt, even once you’ve proof read your application, get someone else to check it for you. You would be appalled at the number of people who proclaim they are perfectionists, only to make an error less than two sentences later.
- Don’t leave any gaps. Make sure you have filled every part of the application form that is required. Even if you have only a limited amount of information to include, make sure you do it. Even with your limited experience, it still may be better than another candidate. If you leave it blank, the potential future employer will never be able to make that assessment.
3. Don’t miss the deadline
One of the most common oversights, there really is no excuse for it. Think of it this way, if you miss your train there is absolutely no way it can pick you up and take you to where you want to go.
Yes, you can get on another one afterwards but it is still a different train. The same goes for job roles. If you miss the deadline for applications then you have missed out. Even if you only discover the role two hours before the deadline, make the effort to apply on time. Put simply, if you cannot be dedicated and driven enough to apply for the role on time, you are (in the eyes of the employer) clearly not as enthusiastic as those candidates who managed to do so.
4. Tailor your application to the job
Most people don’t pin their hopes of employment on one single role. With this in mind, it’s worth tackling the other common mistake made - not being relevant to the role you’re chasing. You may have some absolutely fascinating information on your CV but unless it is directly beneficial to the role you have in mind, cut it.
CV’s are a fantastic insight into an applicants mind. Employers want to see an ability to be concise, yet informative; accomplished but not egotistical. It’s absolutely ok to have two or three different CV’s with the emphasis on different skill sets for different types of roles. Make sure you match up as best as possible with what the employer is looking for.
5. Don’t leave any room for confusion
Ultimately, your application is designed to set you apart from every other candidate. You want to state your case in the most clear, crisp way possible. Any potential employer should be able to look at your CV and take note of your accomplishments in the blink of an eye.
You should steer clear of the following mistakes...
- Don’t use language that is unnecessary. Acronyms, abbreviations, sector specific terminology; all these things look good as long as they are used in the right situation. Outside of that, it’s showing off and employers don’t respond well to a sense of misplaced arrogance.
- Don’t leave gaps in your employment history. It’s ok if you went on a gap year. It’s ok if you worked in your local pub in the interim. It’s not ok to leave a gaping hole on your CV - leaving the employer with no choice other than to question the motives behind it.
- Don’t get your employment dates wrong. While this is an easy mistake to make, if it goes unchecked then there is a possibility for it to reflect badly on your application further down the line.
And finally... don’t lie. Perhaps the biggest mistake you can ever make is bending the truth. It's just not worth it.