January is a very busy time for graduates and students applying for jobs because many of graduate schemes close this month. When you're making sure you get your name in the hat, you can find yourself rushing applications. This isn't like furiously typing to meet essay deadlines but usually would require a highly tuned and refined CV, a spotless covering letters and a mean looking application form. However, when the clock is ticking, you can often think that anything submitted would be better than nothing and at least you're in with a chance. This is not advisable, competition, especially for graduate schemes, is very high so a slapdash application is not usually good enough. But, if you don't buy a ticket, you won't win the lottery. So there is no harm in submitting, however unless you've put the time in, it is unlikely you would be successful. Furthermore, with these hurried covering letters and CVs, there are several nightmares that can occur if you're not careful or up against the clock. These are ones to watch out for when you apply and hit that submit button. Because once that email has been sent or that form has been submitted, theirs is nothing you can do. Committing one of these cardinal sins is almost certainly going to result in a curt and automated 'Thanks, but no thanks' from employers.
1. Wrong file
Having a generic CV is not the worst thing in the world. Ideally, when time permits, tailoring your CV to emphasise your skills for what the role demands and manipulating your experience to back this up is the best way to approach graduate job hunting. However, when it comes to it and you've got little time left to clamour an email together addressed to Sir or Madam with your CV attached and all the enthusiasm you can muster. It has been known though for graduate recruiters to receive a wide range of weird and surprising attachments. Making sure that you attach the file marked CV sounds obvious and straightforward, but recruiters have received anything detailed discussions on Kafka's Metamorphosis to extended analysis of China's place in the global economy since 1960. You must think that it's pure stupidity and
only happens to other people
. But you'd be surprised. It could happen to you, so I implore you to be more vigilant and make sure you're sending an insight into what you've done and what you can offer, not your thoughts on the role of foreign intervention in the Spanish Civil War.
2. Spelling and grammar
This can undo a potentially golden application. Graduates that are looking for employment in any field need to make sure they are putting the care and attention in to the application to make sure there are no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. Most places have spell checks and if you're unsure about a particular phrase or whether the word is appropriate in a certain context, a quick google will alleviate these concerns. This is one of the first things that recruiters will notice and will cause them instantly to bin your whole application without so much as a second glance. Errors like these smack of carelessness and can sometimes reveal how slapdash the application has been.
3. Wrong company/job title
This school boy error is where the most almighty clangers are dropped. The CV could be perfect, you could be the most ideal candidate with experience and talent coming out of your ears, but if you mistake the name of the company it will result in instant rejection. Graduate recruiters can get quite precious about these tiny and often totally innocent errors. While it might be evidence of a lack of attention that has been paid to the covering letter, it's an easy mistake to make but can be fatal to your chances. If you're getting your Morgan McKinley and your Morgan Stanley's mixed up, or your KMPGs and your KGBs confused then whoever is reviewing your application will not stand for it and will join the rest in the bin.
4. Misreading the job description
While this one might not lead to an application being sent off, it is something that I have experienced myself when I was hunting for my own graduate job. Be careful with job descriptions. Sometimes the job title will be misleading and the role might not be what you expected. With any kind of job description you need to read through it all several times. There is no point applying to any role if you are not the kind of candidate they are after. I wrote many covering letters for roles without properly reading or understanding the description and when I checked before I submitted my response I saw that the role was very different to what I thought.
5. Scatter gun covering letter
This is a trap that graduates always fall down. Having a stock CV is usually less successful that tailoring one for each application, but it is not totally unforgivable. If you have a stock covering letter, I'd be surprised to see if there was any success at all. Generic covering letters can be spotted a mile off, especially by graduate recruiters who are wading through hundreds of applications. Using a generic and bland covering letter shows that they are passionate and enthusiastic about the job. Recruiters view generic CVs for what they are, effortless and evidence of being lazy. If you've had any application nightmares,