Top Graduate Job Application Mistakes – Part 2

August 29, 2015


Following on from Friday’s blog (suitably titled “Top Graduate Job Application Mistakes – Part 1“), today I thought I’d share the rest of the most common graduates make when they’re applying for their first jobs after university.

If you are a graduate searching and applying for jobs right now – take note! Some of these mistakes might sound pretty harmless but in reality they could cost you the job. Why? Because, as you know, competition for graduate jobs is tough, and employers will look for any mistake, large or small, which can help them to whittle the candidates down to a suitable shortlist.

Failing To Create A Proper Cover Letter

As I mentioned in last week’s post, employers ask you to submit a cover letter with your application for a reason – but it’s worth mentioning that when an employer reads your cover letter, they’re not only interested in the content you’ve included but also how you’ve laid it out.

Now, for a lot of people, it’s obvious that a cover letter needs to take the form of a standard letter eg. address, Dear *name* and finished with a “Yours sincerely” (or similar) – but for a lot of people, particularly younger people and graduates who haven’t necessarily ever been taught how to write an actual letter, it isn’t so obvious – which results in some candidates just sending in big blocks of text as their cover letter.

This can really put an employer off because it suggests you don’t know how to lay out a piece of content professionally or even how to write a simple letter – something which might be important for the role.

Not Explaining Why You’re A Good Fit For The Role

We’ve said it before and I’m sure we’ll say it again – your cover letter is there to bridge the gap between your CV and the job description – so you need to use it wisely! Employers normally ask for a cover letter because they want to hear how you’re the right fit for the role… so that’s exactly what you need to establish in your cover letter. By failing to mention this in your cover letter, you’re potentially discounting yourself from going any further in the process because the employer might struggle to see how you’d be suited to the role from your CV alone.

Including A Generic Personal Profile On Your CV

Your personal profile sits right at the top of your CV which means it’s normally one of the first things an employer sees – so you really need to use this paragraph to explain what makes you unique as a candidate. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen from the applications for our Social Media & Digital Marketing Executive job, a lot of graduates are still just filling their personal profiles with generic, cliche phrases and words which, rather than making them stand out, ensure they just blend in with the rest of the candidates. Check out this blog to find out what you need to include (and avoid!) on your personal profile!

Including Typos (Even In File Names)

Including typos in any of your application documents is a massive turn-off for potential employers as it suggests you have poor attention to detail and don’t take much pride in your work. Now, while you’ve got good old Spell Check to help you when creating your Word documents, you also need to be careful not to make any typos when your name your files either. Why? Because, if anything, these can actually be noticeable than typos buried in the midst of your CV or cover letter. Top tip? Before you hit that ‘send’/’apply’ button, take two seconds to check the names of your files to make sure a stray character or typo hasn’t crept its way in when you weren’t looking.

Not Explaining Gaps In Your CV

Had to take a bit of time out of work/uni for personal matters? That’s fine – but you need to explain it on your CV, rather than just leaving a massive gap in your career history. By failing to explain any gaps, the employer will start to question what you’ve been up to and what you have to hide, particularly if the gap leads up to the present day. Simply putting “Sabbatical” or “Time off due to personal family matters” and then explaining it further in your cover letter or at an interview is definitely better than not including an explanation at all.

Failing To Include Links To Relevant Work/Profiles On Your CV

When applying for any job, regardless of whether it’s a graduate job, it’s always a good idea to include links to any relevant profiles eg. LinkedIn, Twitter, GitHub, Behance which an employer might be interested in. Why? A few reasons: 1. They’ll probably search for them anyway – so you want to make sure they find the right ones! 2. You should be proud of your work 3. The employer might see something on one of your profiles which might convince them to take your application further.

If you’re applying for a job in something like Social Media, including links to your social media profiles is super-important – because you should be wanting to show off your presence on these platforms. If you don’t include them, an employer will think you haven’t had the initiative to include them – and will wonder why they should trust you with their social accounts if you aren’t willing to share the details of yours…

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