These are common mistakes graduates make when applying for jobs, and they all have easy fixes. So take note, avoiding these mistakes can really make a difference.
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.
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.
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.
It's a time-consuming task, and can be frustrating when you feel like you are not getting anywhere, but it will pay off eventually. You are just making it as easy as possible for the employer to say yes.
It's not uncommon for CVs and covering letters to contain a touch of embellishment, just make sure you are 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. And make sure 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.