Have you ever wondered why you haven’t been contacted for a job interview? Waiting for an email or call from a company to schedule an interview and then questioning why you haven’t been selected for the most challenging part of the job search process. You were pretty confident with your application and CV, but ever since you hit ‘Send’ on that email or ‘Submit’ on a job listing website, you haven’t received any form of communication from that potential employer — it’s a little disheartening, right? It’s especially tough when you have applied for a job that you felt was a perfect match for you. You had the experience. You highlighted some of your key achievements that show you as the perfect candidate. Why weren’t you picked?
If you’re looking to improve the odds of being contacted, make sure you’re not falling into these five common traps:
1) You haven’t tailored your application or CV to the job description
Are you really fed up with your current job? Once you’re committed to finding a new role, applying for numerous jobs online can be very time-consuming and tiresome. Maybe you’re submitting dozens of applications per week to any company that’s hiring in the hope of securing yourself a new job as soon as possible. This scattergun approach of sending a CV to multiple companies without reading the job advert fully will significantly decrease the quality of each application.
For example, if you’re applying for a Digital Marketing Manager role, the job description may be somewhat similar, but no two jobs are ever the same, so you should tailor your CV accordingly to reflect the requirements of each role. After all, it’s better to send a strong, really tailored and targetted application to one company, rather than 100 terrible applications to a lot of companies.
*Expert Tip* CV tailoring doesn’t mean you have to completely re-write your entire CV for each application; it can be done relatively quickly once you understand the process. You just need to understand what skills and experience are more critical to each role, and adjusting your CV to draw more attention to them when a recruiter is scan reading your CV.
2) You didn’t follow simple instructions
Spelling and grammar need to be correct in your cover letter and CV. Making fundamental mistakes here will reflect poorly on your attention to detail. In the same way, nothing will put you out of the running for a job faster than ignoring simple application instructions.
Each company has a different procedure it asks applicants to follow for submitting applications. Some propose that you use a form on their website, while others prefer emails to be sent to the hiring manager or a traditional phone call to find out more about the role. You need to make sure you understand what the prospective employers seek by taking the time to read the job listing carefully. Follow the instructions to the letter or don’t be surprised if your application never reaches the hiring manager or gets immediately binned.
*Expert Tip* Most recruiters or HR professionals will tell you that making just one or two errors is enough to remove a candidate from consideration. Make sure to carefully proofread your CV before submitting it and ask a family member or friend to do the same.
3) You don’t have the correct experience
You may think you’re brilliant, but the bottom line may be that you’re simply not as perfect for the role as you think.
Before submitting your application, take a close look at the job description and compare your skills and experience with those required by the company. If you’re a Digital Marketing Executive that’s applying for a Digital Marketing Manager role requiring five years of experience managing a team, it’s unlikely you will be as qualified as other applicants. While sometimes it’s possible to make up for skills gaps in other areas (if you’re an exceptional candidate), hiring managers generally have a specific candidate in mind that they use to determine whom they call for interviews about the role.
*Expert Tip* If you don’t have the correct experience or qualifications but still want to work at a specific company, you could look for entry-level or more junior positions. You can then prove your worth to the company and work your way up the ladder.
4) You’re not results orientated
A hiring manager will at best spend a minute or two glancing at your CV. They don’t have time to go digging for additional information about you, so, to stand out from other applicants, you need to highlight your achievements and link them to the requirements of the job you are applying for. Connecting your experience with the job description will help make the recruiter feel you are the best fit for a role that needs to have a measurable impact on the business. For a marketing role, you may want to talk about a particular campaign you worked on by how much was spent, how many leads or sales were generated, and what the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) was.
As you update your CV, it’s worth keeping in mind that employers are interested in employing staff who can:
- increase profits
- solve a problem for them
- reduce costs
- generate ideas
- improve efficiency
- enhance customer satisfaction
- improve quality
*Expert Tip* If the employer can see that the salary they will be paying you will be offset by your contribution to organisation profits, then it makes the hiring decision a lot easier for them. Regardless of the role you’re applying for, there will be things that you have achieved throughout your career that can be used on your CV to create a positive impression of you.
5) Your application’s too long
Here’s a little tip: Every sentence in your cover letter should matter. No buzzwords, no fluff, no beating around the bush with what it is you want to say. Keep it short, to the point, and ensure that it’s shorter than one-page.
The mistake a lot of applicants make with their cover letter is that they feel they should note down every single accomplishment they’ve had throughout their careers. However, three to four paragraphs are generally more than enough for any cover letter.
First paragraph: indicate the reason you are writing and how you heard about the role. Include attention-grabbing information that will help sell you as the perfect candidate. For example, “I am a skilled Digital Marketing Manager with over 5 years of experience a team. After finding your position on IrishJobs.ie, I knew I was the perfect for [company name], which I hope you will agree.”
Second paragraph: you should then explain your qualifications and highlight specific examples of how your skills and experience match what the employer is seeking. For example, “I have managed campaigns for a leading international e-commerce company where I had to oversee the SEO, PPC and content marketing strategy. Over the past 12 months, I have increased revenue from the website by 120% while lowering overall marketing costs by 27%.”
Third paragraph: the final paragraph should thank the hiring manager for considering your job application and request an opportunity to meet to discuss the role in more detail.
*Expert Tip* The old saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression” is definitely true when meeting someone in person, but just as important when you are writing to a company regarding a potential job opportunity.