Tips to increase your chances of getting through to the interview stage
One of my pet peeves is seeing bad job applications. In this day and age, there is just no excuse for it. There is so much guidance on the Internet for anything you want to do, I just don’t understand why people don’t use it or, even worse, just choose the worst advice out there to follow!
Preparation for the workplace is something that most certainly should be taught in schools during the final year. However, it’s pretty clear that either it’s not being taught at all, it’s not being taught properly, or the kids are just not listening!
My newest client is newly built vacation home in Soufriere. It has 6 self-contained units. Why then, are we receiving applications for waitresses and all other manor of positions that clearly do not exist within such an establishment? I just have to shake my head, and this has prompted me to write this blog post. Read on to find out 6 ways you can pretty much guarantee your application will go straight into the trash can!
1.ADDRESSING YOUR APPLICATION TO THE WRONG PERSON (OR NO PERSON!)
Sending out generic applications addressed to nobody in particular, is likely to have it reach that exact place – Nobody! This is especially the case in larger organizations where it will simply just get lost. There is always a dedicated department or person who deals with job applications and you want to ensure that this is where your application ends up.
ACTION: Take the time to visit the company website or make a phone call to their reception and ask for the correct person to address applications to and make sure you get the correct spelling of their name. You can’t spell their name wrong and then go on to say in your Resume that you are a ‘conscientious and detail-oriented person’! Come on now sis!
2. USING AN UNPROFESSIONAL EMAIL ADDRESS
Unless you’re applying for a job as a stripper, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ is not the type of email address you want to use to send a job application from. Yes, you may well have had it since 1999, but it will not serve you in the world of work! First of all, it’s unlikely to make it through the company’s spam filter and will be sent straight to the junk or spam folder. Second of all, what image does this portray of you? You could have the most fantastic Resume attached to that email, but it most likely won’t even get opened if it’s being presented by a dodgy email address.
ACTION: Create a Gmail address with your real name for professional purposes. It takes about 5 minutes to do and will increase your chances of having your application make it into the hands of the interviewer.
3. SENDING OUT BLANKET TEXT TO EVERYONE
Ladies, would you be interested in a guy who asked you out, if you knew he already asked out 35 other girls in the neighborhood just in the last couple of weeks? They are just using the same old tired lines, hoping that the law of averages will work in their favour eventually and they will land a date. They don’t really care who they get, they just want to get laid. Would you accept that invitation? Of course not! You’re worth more than that right? Well, it’s kind of the same when you send out blanket letters to all companies, saying the exact same thing, regardless of what the company does. If you’re looking for a waitress position, why would you send an application to the local bank or to a small business that has no restaurant or canteen and only employs 3 staff members! Who will you be waiting on? This example may seem extreme, but trust me, I’ve seen such foolishness in my 32 years of working in administration!
ACTION: Do a little research and tailor your Resume and covering letter to suit the company you are applying to. There’s no law that says your Resume has to stay the same. This doesn’t mean that you’re telling lies, but you are highlighting the strengths you have for the particular job you are applying for.
4. NOT CHANGING TEMPLATES
This is similar to #3 above but deserves its own section.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. You can get help with absolutely anything these days. There are thousands of examples and templates you can find that will help you get your message across. There’s nothing wrong with going online and getting templates for your job application letter and Resume, but for the love all things holy, please ADAPT it to your situation! If the interviewer asks you to give an example of your ‘conscientiousness’, you don’t want to be sitting there wide-eyed like a manicou stuck in headlights trying to figure out what to say. Not a good look!
These templates act as a guide only. You are unlikely to find one that fits exactly. Remember you are a unique individual and your cover letter and Resume needs to come from you as this unique person that this company needs to hire.
ACTION: Use your own vocabulary (although obviously not slang!) and stay away from the big words if you don’t even know what they mean. Get somebody to proof-read it before you send it and make sure everything you say is truthful, otherwise you had better know a lot about the subject you’re lying about!
5. APPLYING FOR ‘ANY POSITION AVAILABLE’
Nothing smacks more of sheer desperation, than saying you will do any job that’s available! All an employer will see is that you are desperate for a job and they can pay you as little as they can get away with. It also suggests that you don’t really know what you want in life and are prepared to be a doormat. Again, using the dating analogy, when you decide you’ve been single long enough and you want to start dating again, you don’t just put yourself out there saying any man/woman with a heartbeat will do! You have standards for yourself. You look at what you can bring to the table and what you are looking for in a partner. It’s the same with a job. Have some respect for yourself and your God given talents.
ACTION: Think of what your skills are and what you actually WANT to do, and only apply for those positions. You may well end up in a different position than you actually applied for, but let them give you that option because they think you may be suited elsewhere in the company, not because you sold yourself short and ‘settled’ for less.
6. NOT FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE JOB ADVERTISEMENT
Oh, how this one irks me! I can’t tell you how many email applications have gone straight into the electronic trash, because people simply fail to follow the instructions in the job advertisement. All of the instructions are given for a reason, people!
a) Don’t send in your application a week after the deadline and then act surprised when you don’t hear back.
b) When they tell you to put something specific in the subject line of your email, put EXACTLY what they say in the subject line! Don’t try to be smart. Don’t try to stand out from the rest. Just write what they say to write! When whoever is delegated to print out all the applications, they will do a sort on the subject line and yours will not show up if you typed something different and it will get missed. Even if it does get seen, it’s likely to be ignored. Why? Because if you can’t follow a simple instruction like filling in a subject line, how will you fare when your new boss gives you real instructions? I can guarantee you that the instructions WILL get harder!
c) If they say no attachments, just send the covering letter and Resume in the BODY of an email, and don’t send your Resume as a Word document along with 15 PDFs of all your certificates and references when they didn’t ask for all that.
ACTION: Read the instructions given and follow them exactly. Before you send it out, check and double-check that you have followed all the steps correctly. This can be the difference between being called for an interview and having your application land in the trash.
In conclusion, just make sure you do your research! Not every company is the same, which is why I recommend not sending out the same applications to every employer in the neighborhood. Tailor and tweak your Resume and cover letter to suit the particular company you are applying to. Again, this is not telling lies, it’s highlighting your attributes that are most suited to the particular job being applied for.
When all is said and done, nobody wants to waste their time and effort sending fruitless applications. Fortunately, putting in the extra time and effort with the points mentioned in this article will at least bring you closer to actually getting called for an interview.
Share below in the comments, what lessons you have learned when applying for jobs. Maybe you can help someone else who is reading this to be more successful with their job applications.