The sinking feeling you get when you submit an application then don’t get the interview is one of the worst feelings of rejection you can have.  You are amazing at what you do but you haven’t even been given the chance to show your potential employer that you are the right person for the job.  It could be a legitimate reason why you haven’t been selected – maybe you genuinely aren’t what the employer is looking for but 9 times out of 10 you have ruled yourself out by doing something that is easily rectified.  Here are my top 5 tips for what NOT to do when applying for job of your dreams.

1. “To whom it may concern”

Your cover letter (and always include one by the way) should be personal.  Even if you don’t have the name of the person who you are submitting your application to you can always find it very easily through google. Googling “who is the HR Manager for Generation Women Ltd” is not difficult.  If you don’t bother finding that simple fact out what else could you not be bothered to do, so why would I hire you?  Worse still is not having a cover letter at all.  You might as well not bother submitting your application because I guarantee you that other CVs will land on the hiring managers desk with a cover letter making yours stand out – for all the wrong reasons.  You can include your cover letter in the pdf of your CV document.

2. “I asked for a CV not War and Peace”

As a rule your CV should be no more than 3 pages.  Be ruthless and cut out anything that isn’t relevant to the role you are applying for.  Then go back over it and do it again.  A lengthy, wordy CV that isn’t relevant won’t even get read –  all you have done with your application is killed a few trees. The purpose of your CV is to get you the interview, not the job, so you don’t need all the detail – save some for when they see you!  I don’t care about the skills that you honed while working as a holiday rep 20 years ago and I certainly don’t care that you have a keen passion for gardening.  Ask yourself when reading every sentence on your CV, “Will this help me get the job?”.  If the answer is no or you are unsure – it should be cut.  You need to become a ruthless editor.  If an employer can glance at a CV and immediately see the potential you are in a good place.  Most employers don’t have the time to decipher and wade through all the extra fluff you have given them and they won’t shortlist you.

3. “If they can’t spell why would I trust them with my business?”

This is a sure-fire way to end up at the bottom of the list.  It’s so obvious but many people do not re-read their CV or application, and check for spelling and grammatical mistakes.  Spellcheck and online tools like Grammarly are your friends.  Speaking of friends, you have been looking at your application for hours so might not notice errors so get a friend or family member to check it over.  Spelling mistakes and poor grammar erode trust before you even start and show you to be lazy or lacking intelligence or both. I once saw a CV with the word “six” spelt as “sex”, Did this give me a giggle? Yes.  Did they get an interview? Er….No.

4. “This looks like a Submit and hope”

Too many applicants submit their CV and cross their fingers.  This will do 2 things – show that you haven’t read the job description and/or you don’t care enough to put the extra effort in to tailor you application.  Result?  File under rejection.

Take the time to read the job description thoroughly.  Your CV or application form needs to reflect the language used and the skills required for the role.   Highlight key words and phrases on the job description and work them into your application naturally using the same language.  This is a must.  You need to understand what the key competencies for the role are.  Does your CV reflect the fact that you exactly match what is required for the role? If not – you need to either re-write or start from scratch.  Put the effort in and you will get the reward.

Make the hiring manager feel like you are the one – you need to be right for the role before you even get to an interview.  With a tailored CV that demonstrates you a perfect match it almost takes the pressure of for the interview – you could potentially have a poor interview and not do yourself justice but your excellent CV or application could still get you over the line.

5. Your Online Image has ruined your chances

A negative personal brand can stop you in your tracks.  Pay attention to what is in the public domain on social media.  Check your Facebook profile privacy settings and pay attention to what you post.  Have you lost your temper with someone on twitter and said some things that are less than professional?  Delete the comments.  Google yourself and see what is out there and remove anything that does you no favours.  Everyone has different standards, but a good rule of thumb is “would I be happy for my potential employers Granny to read this content?”.  Play it safe.

Your LinkedIn profile will probably be the first port of call for the hiring manager- make sure it sells the best you. Ensure you have a professional photo and that your profile is up to date. On the flip side – having no online profile at all can be equally as damaging.  The internet is your friend, use it to develop a personal brand that YOU want potential employers to see.

These are just 5 areas where applicants go wrong and probably the most common.  There are other things to avoid.  Generic clichés should be avoided (so you are a “Team Player” well aren’t you just wonderful).  Not showing the impact you have had in your previous roles can be detrimental, every statement should be worded as an achievement and demonstrate results.  In addition, you might be selling yourself, but you don’t need to lie about it. You will get found out either at interview, or worse still when you get the job.  Anyway, why would you lie?  You are awesome and don’t need to.

So put the effort in and get the interview  – so you can show them what you are made of and get the job you deserve.