Mistakes to avoid

Mistakes to avoid

Find a job

Whether you're sending out your first or your twentieth application, these ten mistakes can seriously harm your chances of securing your ideal job.

1. Poor spelling and grammar

Proof-read. Spellcheck. Then get your parents, friends, and siblings to check it for you. And then, when you think it's perfect-check it again!

This doesn't just apply to your covering letter and CV. You need to be checking every written interaction with your prospective employers - emails and online applications included.

2. Not following instructions

This may seem obvious, but when you are sending out over a dozen job applications, it can be hard to keep the specific requests of each straight. So before you click "send" or "submit", go back and read over the instructions to make sure you've provided what they've asked. This may include documents that only certain employers require, so whatever it is, make sure you've got it.

3. Sending out generic applications

Tailoring your covering letter and CV is essential to getting to the next step. Before submitting each application, go through your documents and make sure they measure up to the job description and highlight the right skills for the position. Address each covering letter to the specific company and person who will be receiving it.

4. Making unsubstantiated claims

It's not uncommon for CVs and covering letters to contain a touch of embellishment, just make sure you're not taking it too far - don't make claims that you can't back up. Keep in mind that if you say in your covering letter that you have experience, employers will then look for it on your CV, and a lack of evidence to back up that claim will quickly become glaringly obvious.

5. Not being properly prepared for interviews

Preparation and character are the keys to succeeding at this crucial stage, and the most common error made by graduates is not taking the time to ensure they understand as much as they can about the role and the company.

Taking the time to prepare properly will give you the best chance at making it through to the next interview, or better yet, getting a job offer. Have a look at our sections on commercial awareness and interview technique to make sure you are ready.

6. Lack of professionalism

Your interaction with prospective employers extends beyond just your covering letter and the interview, and you should aim to maintain a high level of professionalism throughout. This means being clear and concise in emails, maintaining polite interactions over the phone, returning emails and phone calls promptly, and dressing appropriately for your interview.

7. Repeating mistakes

The most important thing about making a mistake or getting a rejection is learning from it. While you can't exactly contact every company that turned you down to ask "why not me?", it is not out of place to send a polite email to companies you interviewed with inquiring what you could work on to increase your chances of success next time.

And if you have been sending out countless applications and getting no responses, it's probably time to look at the layout of your CV, the tone of your covering letter, and how well you are relating your skills to the needs of the role. Consider bringing them in to your local careers service if you haven't already.

8. Poorly written covering letters

The covering letter is your opportunity to show an employer why you are right for the role. Put time and thought into your letter, and it will show.

9. Poorly put together CVs

Your CV is the foundation of your application, so it is important to get it right. It should be concise, easy to read, and relevant to the position for which you are applying.

10.Poorly selected references

You should have at least two references - one professional, and one academic. Reach out to the people you'd like to use and make sure that they are happy to provide a reference, and that you have their correct contact information.

Be sure that the people you choose are in a good position to provide a good reference - this means that they know you well enough to speak highly of you, and that they occupy a position which is relevant to your chosen industry.