Mark Twain – “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest”
I’m a Recruiter which means I read a lot of job applications. And as the “New Year, New [Career/You/Life]” spam comes our way you may be thinking of sending out multiple applications (but before you even think of quitting your job though, you may want to read this). I see a lot of articles with advice on how to make your application stand out but I don’t see much advice about what to avoid.
Below are some examples of applications that just straight up annoy me, some even lead me to rejecting the application before I’ve seen the résumé/CV. This article may seem like a cathartic rant but my intentions are good, I just want to help Recruiters and candidates the world over.
Ultimately, the point of this article is to highlight that I have one surprisingly simple piece of application advice and it’s this…
a well-written, personalised, fully completed and thoughtful application will (most of the time) make you stand out from the rest.
Now let’s rant.
CAPITAL LETTERS EVERYWHERE
“I am THE PERFECT CANDIDATE for this job”. Whenever I see this I always think, would the perfect candidate actually write a sentence like that? A couple of weeks back I even saw an application written entirely in capital letters. Literally, the whole thing. The point here is, focus on you and your experience to help sell yourself, not the use of UPPERCASE LETTERS.
EFFORTLESS COVER LETTERS
A cover letter isn’t a requirement when applying at Hudl, so when I see one I think, “awesome, they’ve taken the time to write a cover letter”. Then when I see it’s a generic cover letter that the candidate has probably used time and again with no edits at all for each application…I just facepalm. This adds no value to your application. The cover letter is an opportunity to highlight areas of your experience, personality and passions that make you a great fit for this specific role at this particular company. I would go as far as to say that generic cover letters harm your application.
AVOIDING APPLICATION QUESTIONS
Above is an example from a recent application for our Software Developer vacancy. On it we really only ask that you spend a moment to think about these questions: What language have you learned most recently? What did you like most about it? Application forms may seem tedious but remember, most of the time it’s the very first interaction between you and a potential new employer. Take the time and make it count. Links are important too, for example we want to see Developers who are proactive on GitHub and Sales Reps with an engaging LinkedIn profile.
I’m often asked, “should I submit multiple applications?” I guess the thinking is that the employer will notice you, and they will, but not for the right reasons. Most good TMS’ (talent management systems) will show if a candidate has applied to multiple roles. But what are the chances that a) you genuinely want either role equally b) you are qualified equally for both roles. The chances are slim, so focus on one role. If you’re not quite sure whether to apply for say a Lead Software Engineer or Technical Product Manager, then pick one and mention it on your application. Or better yet get in touch with a Recruiter, Engineer or Product Manager within the company who will be able to help. Multiple applications just look like spam and that you aren’t focused on a particular career path.
“I don’t have time to write a CV/résumé, so I’ll just download a PDF of my LinkedIn profile”. What!? No. Don’t do that. Indeed also offers a similar option. Please avoid doing anything like this. This is your career, this could be a life changing dream job, so take the time to craft a CV/résumé that highlights your best self. Laziness rarely pays off when job hunting.
I hope this article was useful, if you want to get in touch use firstname.lastname@example.org.