We’ve all been rejected from job applications, but so rarely do we get feedback as to why.
And if we actually do, more often than not the reason we’re given sounds like a made-up excuse designed to fob us off.
Of course, if you don’t even make it to an interview, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll ever be told just what it is you’re doing wrong.
So why do hiring managers really reject us? And what are we putting on our CVs that causes our potential employers to throw them straight in the bin without even meeting us?
One anonymous hiring manager has spilled the beans to The Independent on what candidates should write in their applications to make sure they’re not immediately consigned to the no pile.
1. Cut out the vanity titles
It’s fine to say you’ve got a blog, for example, but don’t call yourself ‘editor-in-chief’. If you’ve got an Etsy side hustle, there’s no need to call yourself a ‘chief executive’. People have been taught to polish their CVs so much that some things just end up sounding ridiculous.
2. Keep your CV concise
There’s a reason everyone’s told to keep CVs to two sides of A4 paper – it forces you to tighten up your application so that you don’t end up telling the hiring manager all about your Year 10 tennis lessons. But there’s also a logistical reason why it’s sound – if they’re printed out, that rogue second page can easily get lost.
3. Follow the instructions given
The most basic error is not following the clear instructions on a job advert. If you’ve been asked for three ways you’d improve the role, then list them. If a request has been made in the job advert, then it’s not optional.
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4. Don’t apply for loads of jobs at the same organisation
Applying for every available job at a company is a worrying sign, and easily spotted. Most application systems are web-based these days, and it’s simple to run a name search to see if someone has applied for a bunch of wildly different jobs. It doesn’t come across as passionate, it screams desperate.
5. Write fluently
Typos aren’t a big a deal as people think. We’ve all created CVs or covering letters, triple checked them, then spotted an error the moment we hit ‘send’. It can’t be helped. However, clunky, unprofessional phrasing does take the shine off an application, and to me is far worse than a stray spelling error.
6. Make your cover letter punchy
Covering letters are too long and too stale. We get hundreds of applications for every role, and the ones that get noticed are punchy and stand out. Right at the top, try something new. Start with a big problem you’ve solved, or a professional trend you embraced before everyone else, or the moment you knew you wanted to work for the company. Then, be careful not to ramble on for 600 words – three short paragraphs is fine. Any more won’t get read.