Avoid These Application Mistakes


When did job searching become a trip to the DMV? All the innovative technology, all the integrated processes, all the websites and apps – things that were supposed to turn the system into an optimized job-placement machine – and we just end up filling out seemingly endless forms, answering the same 20 questions over and over again.

It may seem like companies just put out applications to frustrate you or to mess up your daily goal of job submissions. But from their point of view, they are looking for a particular candidate and have devised the best method to find it. Meanwhile, from your point of view, it might be a blessing in disguise. Slowing down your shotgun approach to the process might help in the long run.

Whatever the annoyances and (possible) benefits, applications are a fact of life. It’s key to keep certain things in mind when filling them out.

Here are four common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Didn’t Follow Instructions

Most applications will seem self-explanatory, especially after spending a few weeks on a full-time job search, and you may go on autopilot. Don’t fall into this trap.

Read the application instructions completely each time. Employers might request a particular style (using a tone that fits their company’s vibe, for instance). Or they might request very specific information. Some companies will include something offbeat just to make sure you’re paying attention, and to avoid getting a canned response. Whatever their motivations, not following the instructions will likely lead to an instant rejection.

Didn’t Proofread

Another danger of application autopilot: silly mistakes. This includes typos, spelling errors and grammatical mistakes.

Companies are sifting through dozens – maybe hundreds – of applications for each position. Hiring managers are looking for excuses to toss out applications. Don’t give them that excuse.

Carefully review each response as you give it. Most applications will have a final review step that allows you to look things over one last time. However, some might not – or editing a response in the review stage might prove overly complicated or confusing. Best to avoid any issues and check as you go. Also, it’s a good idea to copy and paste answers into a document so it can get a spell or grammar check.

Unprofessional Email Address

When you’re in college, latenightdrinkmeister43@gmail.com seems like a good email. Then, you hit the workforce and the address becomes a liability. An employer might take one look and move your application to the “trash” folder.

We can’t stress this enough: Hiring managers are looking for reasons not to hire you. They don’t want to read those essays about your five-year plan or about the time you overcame adversity any more than you wanted to write them.

You might hope they’ll find your cleverly cheeky email charming and give you some thinking-outside-the-box cred for going with something so outlandish. That’s a long shot. More likely, they’ll assume your immature and oblivious.

Your Answers Are Too General

As we’ve suggested, you’re not alone in your job search. Every application you submit will go up against a lot of competition – again, some positions receive hundreds of responses. You need to stand out (in ways other than a borderline offensive email address and a record number of spelling errors, of course).

Just having basic skills or a generic background won’t be enough. Take every opportunity to get specific. When possible, provide concrete numbers. You didn’t just “oversee a project to boost productivity.” Your project “boosted productivity by 12 percent with a project that came in under budget by 25 percent.” The added details will make you stand out and force employers to remember your application.

Another fast track to a hiring manager’s attention: a strong recruitment partner. Having an industry-leading staffing agency pushing your case goes a long way to opening doors. Contact DHR today to see how they can help you push past the endless application process and get your career on the fast track.

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