Candidates: avoid these common mistakes!

In 20 years at the front line of working with talented candidates, we’ve seen quite a few howlers at Prism Executive Recruitment but some mistakes come up again and again.

Common mistakes made by candidates in a job applications

Here are the 7 most common candidate mistakes when applying for a job:

1. Ignoring the job criteria.

Most job applicants miss out on one or more of the ‘must haves’. “But I have nothing to lose by applying: why should I care?” Contrary to popular belief most applications are read by real people so if you’re cheesing them off that’s not going to be advantageous if you then apply for a job you ARE qualified for. Also, you might think of yourself as pretty resilient but do you really want to receive rejection email after rejection email?

2. The CV is too long.

It should be ideally 2-3 pages, yet we receive many CVs much much longer. Consider carefully what that might say about you and you’ll conclude it’s probably not good. See our guide to writing a great CV.

3. The CV isn’t mainly a job listing in reverse chronological order.

Most CV reviewers simply want to see what you’ve done and when you’ve done it and that’s really the point of a CV. Anything else makes it difficult and means they’re more likely to move on to the next applicant. Competency-based CVs are a major turnoff.

4. The CV has mistakes including basic typos.

As per the above comment: “consider carefully what that might say about you”. Why would an employer want to hire a candidate if one of the most important documents in their professional life has errors?

4. LinkedIn is not up to date and/or not similar to the CV.

Many people don’t realise that almost invariably if your CV is of potential interest to a recruiter or employer they will look at your LinkedIn profile. It will put them off if they can’t find one, or it doesn’t tally with your CV, or it’s out of date, there’s an unprofessional photo or it has other aspects which raise a flag. Note LinkedIn shouldn’t be a replica of your CV either. This isn’t about so-called “social media snooping” but basic good sense! These days professionals are expected to look after their brand. A candidate’s brand has value to an employer as well as the individual.

5. Talking too much.

This applies to the phone or in person. We can all overdo it a bit, especially when nervous. However, being overly loquacious suggests a lack of emotional intelligence and ensures that the really good points you are making get lost.

6. Showing up late.

Does this really need any explanation? It is rare that candidates arrive late for a face to face meeting. However, it’s much more common for applicants to be on voicemail at the agreed time for a telephone interview. Some people think it matters less but it still inconveniences the interviewer to a similar degree and makes an awful impression. Possibly disrespectful and at worst poor organisational skills and/or not interested in the job. There is rarely a plausible excuse for not getting a message to the interviewer.

7. You’re unprepared.

At Prism we brief all our candidates thoroughly but we regularly get the impression that we’re raising points that weren’t on the applicant’s radar. These days all candidates are expected to be thoroughly prepared. Indeed the challenge is to stand out!

Many of the roles we handle generate a large volume of responses: use these simple tips to turn the odds in your favour!