- Finding a job is an elaborate process, from resumes and cover letters to interviews and offers.
- There are key mistakes to avoid to keep a recruiter interested and improve your chances.
- From spelling mistakes to online interviews, here’s what experts say is important to recruiters.
Finding a job isn’t easy, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to help you stand out from the crowd and really impress hiring managers.
A lot of the job application process comes down to avoiding the obvious mistakes that can frustrate recruiters in your résumé and during your interviews.
Business Insider España spoke to some recruitment experts to find out what makes and breaks a job application.
1. Using the same application for every job
If you’re using the same résumé and cover letter for every application, you can wave goodbye to your next job offer.
Companies want to know that you’re excited about working in a specific role with them, not that you just want any job.
Director of business and specialized tech and digital recruitment at Michael Page, Daniel Pérez, told Business Insider España that applying for jobs indiscriminately could make you look desperate and affect your credibility.
2. Treating online interviews like ‘face-to-face’ interviews
“Only the format has changed, nothing else,” Pérez said of online interviews. “If we asked interviewees to stand up, how many of them would be wearing pajamas? That tells me this person will only do the bare minimum.”
If you were going to an in-person interview, you’d make sure to look smart and presentable. That’s what an online interviewer is looking for too.
3. Not respecting private messaging etiquette
Private messages should be used as a last resort as they can sometimes give a bad impression.
“It’s as if you’re saying: ‘I need something from you, I’ve applied for this job, and now I’m going to bombard you with messages even though we’ve never been in touch before,'” said Aurora Pulido, a professional development coach.
However, the CEO of the talent institute TEKDI Juan Merodio said it could be an opportunity to show off your creative side.
“If you want to send a message, make it a short one-minute video where you introduce yourself and mention the receiver’s name, so they know it’s just for them,” he said. “It’s a game of attention: that’s what you’re trying to get.”
Pérez warned it was important not to get too enthusiastic.
“If you’re a bit too creative, it can come across as unrealistic,” he said.
4. Giving inconsistent interview answers
However, it’s likely the interviewer has already looked you up on social media, so it’s important to be consistent in your personal branding.
The social media manager at InfoJobs, Nilton Navarro, told Business Insider España consistency between your answers in an interview and your social media posts could increase your chances of securing a job by up to 60%.
“The first interview takes place on social media,” he said. “55% of companies look up candidates on social media before interviewing them.”
5. Using inauthentic or insincere references
A good reference can make or break a job application but it must be authentic and original.
If your referee describes you as “promising” or a “hard worker,” it might not be much help as other candidates will have very similar references.
“When I ring up a referee and ask them, ‘What would you change about this person?’ and they tell me, ‘I wouldn’t change anything, they’re an excellent candidate,’ that’s not very reassuring,” said Fernando de Zavala, an associate at recruitment consultant firm NGS Global.
An anecdote about you or a fair character assessment pointing out some of your biggest strengths (and weaknesses) might therefore be much more useful.
6. Using your resume bio to tell your life story
According to TEKDI’s Juan Merodio, you only have 20 seconds to get a recruiter’s attention. So if your résumé bio is too long, chances are it won’t be read.
Sticking to strictly relevant information is very important. You can still use storytelling techniques, drawing all the key points together and ending with a quick note such as “Send me a message on LinkedIn” or “you can write to me at the following email address.”
7. Lying on your resume
Lying on your résumé, however, is a recipe for disaster.
“Putting a lie on your résumé is never ever worth it,” said Lazslo Bock, current CEO of Humu who previously spent 15 years going through résumés at Google.
“Anyone who does it, including executive directors, will be fired.”
8. Leaving spelling errors unamended
From “identity” instead of “identify” to “manger” for “manager,” recruiters have seen it all when it comes to spelling mistakes.
In today’s day and age, they are unforgivable, especially as they are easy to rectify.
“A good résumé opens many doors,” Pérez said. “Know how to do it well and avoid spelling mistakes — I still see them these days and it’s inexcusable.”
9. Forgetting keywords on your résumé
Most large companies use tracking systems to go through résumés, scanning them for keywords. Including them in your résumé is, therefore, a vital stepping stone to an interview.
“If there are certain keywords related to the job that recruiters are looking for and they don’t appear in the first 30 seconds they’re reading, they’re probably going to put it aside,” said Pérez.
10. Not ensuring you stand out from other candidates
Why are you the best person for the job?
They might not always ask you directly, but that’s what they’re trying to find out, and there are ways you can show them they should hire you.
Professional development coach Aurora Pulido said candidates could conduct a thorough assessment of their role, analyzing its strengths and weaknesses and outlining what they would do to change it in their first 90 days on the job.
“If you want to stand out from the other candidates, the bare minimum should be having a complete profile,” Pulido added. “LinkedIn is also a living document, so you can add things and give it personality.”
11. Not having a long-term goal
Recruiters don’t just want to know whether you’re cut out for the role you’re interviewing for. They’re also keen to learn about your career development goals and long-term vision.
“A willingness to learn, grow, and evolve is vital to assess whether you have a long-term vision and potential for growth within the company,” said Nilton Navarro of InfoJobs. “So it’s something to bear in mind at the recruitment stage.”