#SFAN: 6 Biggest Job Application Mistakes You Must Avoid at All Costs

happy young african american uni student using cell phone
happy young african american uni student using cell phone

It can be frustrating when you send in your application for a job opening but you do not receive a response. Apart from the fact that the job market is competitive as ever, the reason you are not hearing back from hiring managers may be some these limiting job application mistakes I am about to share with you.

One thing many job applicants do not take into serious consideration is that their application is the first point of contact with the company they are applying to — it is a chance to slingshot your copy into the hiring manager’s shortlist. Therefore, you must do everything necessary to grab that opportunity and make the employer go wild over your copy!

From an experience of reviewing numerous applications within the past two years, the following are some of the biggest mistakes people commit while applying for jobs.

  1. Not following the application procedure and poor email etiquettes

Here is the rule of thumb you should bear in mind when applying for any job: every company has a recruitment process that prospective employees are required to follow. For the most part, it is usually simple and will be communicated in the application form. You will do yourself great service if you follow whatever procedure is required of you.

If the job application is via an email, ensure you add a heading to your email. Because emails can contain viruses and irrelevant information, email headings are how busy people decide whether to open it or not. Also, I think it generally unprofessional to send an email without a heading. For employers, how you do anything is how you do everything, therefore, if you cannot add a subject line to a mail that announces your first contact with the company, how likely is it that you will do any different when you are hired?

Experts have said that a good job application subject line should 1) be professional, 2) be relevant, 3) contain the job title you are applying to, and 4) be short and straight to the point.

Here is an example of a good job application subject line: Administrative Assistant Job – Edith S. Boakye.

Furthermore, your email address should reflect the professionalism you seek to portray. Emails such as [email protected] is a turn off for many hiring managers. A better and more professional email address would be [email protected] Some recruiters recommend that you set up a separate email account for job-related purposes.

Finally, ensure to keep your email content as brief as possible. Errors in grammar and spelling will be the first thing that will catch the employer’s attention. So, do yourself a favour and spell-check it before clicking send.


  1. Sending a poorly written resume

One major deal breaker in a job application process happens over the resume. Regardless of size or industry, this study suggests that many recruiters, hiring managers and human resource professionals are still utilizing resumes as the basis for great first impression in a recruitment process.

In a recent survey of over 300 hiring managers by Top Resume, reveals that the followings are the biggest resume deal breakers candidates should avoid:

Spelling and/or grammatical errors

Incorrect or missing contact information

Unprofessional email address

Outdated or irrelevant information (hobbies, age, marital status)

Failure to demonstrate and quantify results

Annoying buzzwords and/or obvious keyword stuffing

Too generalized/not customized to match job listing

Repetitive words or phrases used in multiple job descriptions

Including a headshot (the photo may be distracting or unprofessional)

Format and/or design is too elaborate (a one-page resume is more ideal for most resumes)

  1. Not adding a good cover letter

One of the most important tools in your job application arsenal is a cover letter. If it is true that a resume is like an appetizer to a hiring manager, then the cover letter is like the main ditch for determining if the candidate will proceed to the next stage of the recruitment process (in some instances, the reverse may be the case).

A cover letter allows you to target the recruiter and job in a more direct manner; highlighting your skills in a way your resume can not. It is also your sales copy to show the employer why the job is of interest to you and why you’re the one he or she must hire.

Therefore, ensure to put some thought into crafting this real estate. Be diligent in your research of the company; understand whom to address your copy to and skillfully highlight the keywords that are relevant to the job while demonstrating that your personality fits the organization’s culture – that is if it actually does.

Lastly, keep in mind that with an increasing number of software tools being utilized to navigate through a stockpile of applications, the cover letter is usually the first thing the hiring manager will see, especially as the pile minimizes to ideal candidates.


  1. Not knowing the company you’re applying to

You’ve read the job application and you’ve made your resume waterproof. Now, you just want to quickly send in your resume so it can be the first thing the recruiter will see. While it can be useful to send your resume as early as possible, you miss a great opportunity if you do not research the company you’re applying to work for.

As any recruiter will tell you, there is nothing as frustrating as calling a candidate for an interview only to find out that he or she do not know anything about the company’s business.

For starters, researching the company will help you tailor your cover letter as explained above. It also helps you connect with people that already work there and gives you the chance to determine if the company is headed in the direction you want to go.


  1. Not keeping a good social media presence

Here’s another secret for job seekers: most hiring managers will check out a candidate’s social media presence before making a job offer. In this digital age, the first thing most recruiters do before contacting you is to Google your name (your LinkedIn profile is usually their first destination), and if you have not kept a good social media presence, you will be at a loss.

For a technical role as a web or software developer, I will want to see some repository on Github or websites you’ve built.

No company will hire someone who is a reputation hazard. Hence, endeavour to keep your profiles as professional as you can get and watch your comments and posts. It is easy to get entangled in a “flame of wars” that means nothing to you but might matter very much to your prospective employer. More so, be careful that you don’t vent your frustrations about brands or people online — you never know where your next job may be coming from.

This article has further recommendations from recruiters on how to keep a great social media presence when looking for a job.

  1. Lying in your application

One major reason a resume is not an objective source of information for a recruitment decision is that many applicants lie on their resumes. Consequently, employers are devising numerous strategies to catch those who tell a fib through various online and backdoor reference checks.

If a recruiter determines that a candidate lied in his or her application, the candidate has marked ATS and that will be the end of that candidate chance of ever getting a job in that company.

Another reason it is inadvisable to lie in your application is that even if you don’t get caught in the recruitment process, it will eventually come up at some point. When that happens, you will not get away with it. Experts recommend that “by making friends with employees on networking sites like LinkedIn, job seekers can demonstrate how their personalities and aptitude are a match for the employer and this makes not having an exact match inexperience less of an issue”.

Twitter can also be a good place to network with prospective employers. Use these tips to network like a pro.

The job search process can be extremely overwhelming and tedious. But, when you finally find that opening that matches your qualification or can be a great stepping stone to your career goals, you want to ensure that you put in the efforts by making your application irresistible to the hiring manager. In the words of Vince Lombardi, the price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.

For more on this, register for the Student Entrepreneurship Week.

Source: SFAN


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