In a time when “how to ace your interview” and “what to ask to make an impression” are at our finger tips, we expect a higher level of interaction in recruitment. This may be true in more progressive industries, but many applicants missed the lecture on application basics. This is absolutely surprising since a simple “best resume” search in Google gives you numerous results. We, Filipinos, spend an average of 3 hours and 42 minutes on social media every day (Global Web Finder, Q4 2015). Surely we can spare one minute looking at a listicle about job applications!
For your benefit, I put together these 21 basics on applying for a job based on my experience in candidate sourcing and screening. Recruiters and head hunters will definitely be familiar with these. Some may find them trivial but these will surely be news for what proved to be a whole lot of people.
2. Do your research
Why? It reflects eagerness, resourcefulness, sincerity and that you do not take tasks blindly.
In your research, kick it up a notch by reading news about the company or industry. It will keep the interviewer closely interested in what you have to say for the rest of the conversation.
3. Cover letter & Career Objectives – NO!
Why? What you can do based on what you’ve done outweigh what you plan to do.
Most recruiters skip these parts but there are two scenarios where career objective will be useful: (1) you’re switching industries, (2) you don’t have sufficient experience. Even then, career objectives have to be direct to the point and concise. Cover letters should only be used as the email body when sending your resume as an email attachment. Do not send another attachment of the cover letter.
Read: 10 Things to Leave Off Your Resume
4. Choose your skills wisely
Why? Your skills should show you’re qualified, not just a grocery list of what you can do.
Indicate skills relevant to the job. For example, if report-writing in English is one of the key responsibilities, say MS Word at 100 words per minute and Advanced English US at C2 level. There are free tests online that can email the results to you so you can show proof later on. The most effective resumes have a list of skills or field of expertise right under their name and contact info. This format shows that they had the reader in mind – recruiter and line manager.
Read: What Do Employers Really Want? Top Skills and Values Employers Seek from Job-Seekers
5. Say no to photos
Why? Surprise! We don’t need to see what you look like.
Unless you’re applying for a brand ambassador post, what you look like is not relevant to what you've done and what you can do professionally. Photos are distracting to be honest. Besides, people, not exclusive to recruiters, subconsciously make a personality judgment based on how you look. Don’t dig your own grave with a single photo. While we're at it, we also don’t need your SSS, TIN, and complete address. City of residence is more helpful.
7. Be concise
Why? Makes resume browsing time efficient.
Use bullet points and avoid passive verbs in enumerating your work responsibilities. Do everyone a favor and don’t compose a 7-sentence long paragraph describing what you do on a daily basis.
Read: Tips for Creating a Concise Resume
8. Highlight milestones (let's hope you have some)
Why? Milestones tell us you’re one of those who make an impact.
It could be as simple as an internal assignment you led even if it was assigned to you anyway or number of people you trained even if that was expected of your job. If you have quite a list of companies and achievements, you can replace your role’s responsibilities with milestones.
9. Describe Milestones
Why? We don’t know what “Nurnberg Organization Certification” means.
Give a brief explanation of the awards, certifications, seminars and training sessions you attended if they’re not apparent in the titles. This helps us understand what great things you’ve done with your life and if they will be useful for your role and the company.
10. Not all Seminars Attended
Why? Quality over quantity.
Recruiters don’t need to know all seminars you attended in your life. All resumes I received from fresh graduates did this but only 1 out of 10 is relevant to their course and the job they are applying to. If you believe there’s value in including these, describe briefly, just like milestones.
12. Be reachable
Why? Because the moment you miss a call might be the moment you lose that opportunity.
They've seen your resume and decided to contact you... so answer. It would be nice if you’re THE ONE but more often than not, there are hundreds and thousands of applicants waiting. Ensure you update your resume with your mobile number and e-mail address. Make a habit of sending the caller an SMS if you cannot answer the call right away or you avoid answering calls from unidentified numbers (as I do). Never say “hu u” or “hu dis,” instead say, “I apologize but I cannot take your call at the moment. May I know who this is?” Save it in your drafts now, ahora mismo.
13. Make yourself available
Why? You’re the one looking for a job.
It isn’t that difficult to be courteous. Find a decent time and place to entertain a call from them. Be available at the time you requested. If you cannot find a quiet space, apologize, say where you are and ensure that they can hear you clearly. If they do not call at the agreed date and time, make the call yourself.
15. Be honest
Why? Because it shows when you are trying to lie. It really does!
During the interview, be honest about what you can do, what you have learned and what you are willing to do. Attempting to lie usually happens when asked if you’ve had experience working on a specific program/task, and you clearly have not. Companies looking for particular skills or experience usually point that out in their job post. So if that's what you're missing, research about it, make mention that while you have no past experience, you are familiar with it and can learn it easily.
16. Know your Compensation & Benefits
Why? You should know all these already.
Be open, honest and complete when asked about your current compensation and benefits. If you have a target, let them know, like realistic gross salary, HMO, dental or retirement plan. The last thing you want to do is waste their time going over financials to make a good offer for you then turn them down because they didn't meet what would have convinced you otherwise. If your target compensation and benefits are absolutely essential, inform them. If they want you, they will find a way to meet your needs.
18. Show up or let me know at least a full 24 hours before
Why? Your absence affects their schedules too and it makes you a high-risk candidate.
Once you agree on a schedule for interview, commit to it and make necessary preparations to be there 15 minutes before. If you have unavoidable schedule changes, have a work or personal emergency, inform the recruiter as early as you can and reschedule. Nevertheless, missing the interview will have repercussions. If you are keen on landing the job, make an effort to pursue it. If you do not intend to proceed with your application, simply inform the recruiter (no explanation needed!) so you do not waste each other’s time.
19. Clarify scope of work
Why? Know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Asking more details about the scope of work tells them you are eager. Knowing more about what the job entails manages your expectations and helps you decide whether this is the job you're looking for.
Read: 9 Good Questions to Ask in an Interview
20. Be passionate about something
Why? It says a lot about your personality.
Describe yourself by talking about what moves you. It could be an expensive or silly hobby (calligraphy, surfing, reading, etc.), unpopular interest (cars, gaming, new gadgets, politics, etc.), your family, even charity. Make it meaningful - understand why you are passionate about these and be able to articulate that. It will make you stand-out among other candidates. It also gives your future employers the impression that you are capable of having a life outside of work.
21. Be mindful of your social media accounts
Why? These are your public profiles.
Recruiters shouldn’t judge your drunken weeknights and of course your freedom of expression, but you will potentially represent the company. So, just like in most things, be responsible about what you say even in your social media accounts. Keep it private if you like but something will come up, one way or another.
Read: How Social Media Can Help (Or Hurt) You in Your Job Search
As you continue to make your career goals happen, keep these things in mind. If you can’t remember all 21, at least try to stay respectful, courteous and considerate of those you intend to work with. Job application trends will change but these traits will always be vital.
If you’re a recruiter or have experienced interviewing someone for hire, what other trivial mistakes have you observed?