Common job search blunders

Incorrect spellings on your CV will "immediately put hiring managers off you," says Excel Recruitment MD Barry Whelan
Incorrect spellings on your CV will "immediately put hiring managers off you," says Excel Recruitment MD Barry Whelan

In the second part of a two part feature, Barry Whelan lists another five things to avoid when applying for a job



8 August 2012

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1. You’ve had many jobs… too many

At Excel Recruitment we are somewhat fearful of “job hoppers”. This is someone who has had several jobs within the last few years for relatively short periods of time. The applicant could be faultlessly qualified and have the exact experience our clients are looking for, but we know that more often than not, they will reject the candidate based on the frequency of job change on their CV. Several jobs scattered over a short period of time in career terms looks like the applicant is disloyal to their employers, or that you can’t hold down a job, and they will rarely give you the chance to explain otherwise in an interview. Try your best to wait out a job for as long as you can until you feel you have dedicated sufficient time to the business. If you have simply been unlucky in that your role was made redundant or that several companies you worked for closed down, it would be advisable to include a “Reason for leaving” column on your list of experience.

2. Weaving a web of lies

Many people will tell you when looking for work that it is okay to tell little white lies to make yourself seem better but as with all aspects of life, if you lie about your career, you will be found out. You might tell someone that you are an expert in a particular aspect of the position and the employer is thrilled and he asks you for details; what do you do when you have no details, no figures, no proof of work. Even more risky is talking your way out of a sticky situation and succeeding in the interview only for your referee to express shock and disbelief at your taking ownership of a project in which you had little involvement. You are better off sticking to facts, there are ways to find out who does what in companies and if you are found to be lying or expanding the truth, it could damage more than just one application.

3. Stuck in your ways

If you worked in one company for a number of years it is easy to form habits based on their policies, and this can be enticing for an employer; some companies look for people who can bring more to the company. However if you are disregarding a company’s policy and structure and saying that you would change it to model it on your old employer’s way of doing things, they will not only be insulted but they will also be put off by your inflexibility. This is also true when talking about the package you will get once employed by the business. It is surprising how many unemployed people will refuse to take a drop in salary compared to their previous job despite being out of work. You may go in thinking of an exact salary you want, a range of benefits you couldn’t live without or a bonus structure you are used to but if you come across as unwilling to change, you won’t have a very successful job hunt.

4. Lazy application

No employer is going to look at your CV and immediately think “wow that’s the guy/girl for the job”. While perusal of a CV is generally short, they do look for certain things. Anything that signifies a lazy application and you are out of the running. Incorrect spelling will immediately put hiring managers off you because it takes a matter of seconds to run a spell check and proof read the document. Generic cover letters also say “lazy applicant” and it is incredibly easy to spot one. You want to come across as having an interest in the company as well as the job so saying “I wish to work with an innovative company like yours…” tells the employer that you have simply fired off the same cover letter to a number of businesses. Refer to the job in question citing specific requirements and why you meet them, mention a recent project or product launched by the company and your eagerness to be involved in something similar and, the golden rule, find out who you are applying to; with communication being easier than ever, “Dear sir/Madam,” doesn’t cut it anymore, so ring, email or Google search the company to find out who is handling the role and address your letter to them. 

5. You’re happy as you are

That dreaded question: “Where do you see yourself in five years time?” There are several possible answers and to be frank, many of them could land you in hot water depending on who you are dealing with. Saying “In your seat” can be deemed as overly confident and a threat to the position but saying “I would be happy to remain as the X manager for the foreseeable future” can be just as detrimental. Aside from experience, qualifications and a clean-cut manner, employers generally seek ambitious people to work in their company in the knowledge that an individual’s drive for success will reflect brilliantly on their business. If you have no concept of where you strive to be, what kind of progression you want to make or what kind of ideas you have for the company, you will come across as unmotivated and uncaring.

These ten mistakes are avoidable for the most part, and where they are not, there are ways to validate them and turn it into something positive. If you master these areas you will find it much easier to land a job. For more job seeking advice you can visit the Excel Recruitment blog at



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