May 23, 2013 Leave a comment
Applying for new employment can be a challenging task, especially if you are still currently working and juggling a demanding job.
Although you will have invested much time and effort into strategising your next career move, it is often the smaller steps throughout the job application process that can make or break your success.
I see many candidates who are passionate about what they want from their career, but who sometimes fall through on the most crucial steps when applying for roles, following through on applications and moving through the interview and placement process.
Mistake #1: Rushing Through Documents
Instead: Prepare a Powerful Application
Promoting your skills and qualifications effectively is the only way to attract the attention of prospective employers. This is achieved by investing significantly in your cover letter and resume. These two documents are the first impression you will make on an employer and are essentially your only chance to take you from the application to interview stage.
When writing your resume, be sure to highlight your responsibilities and achievements that are relevant to the job specifications. Provide specific examples that showcase how your accomplishments have enhanced and improved the businesses you’ve worked for.
Similarly, your cover letter should also point out your key strengths and it should directly address the selection criteria or requirements the employer has laid out in the job description.
Employers also want to see that you can communicate properly, so always assume a clear and concise resume writing style when it comes to both your resume and cover letter.
Mistake #2: Waiting to Hear Back
Instead: Follow Up On Your Application
Many job candidates make the critical error of sending their application off and then sitting back and waiting for a response.
While you should give employers and recruiters ample time to review the applications they receive (e.g. 1-3 days), following up with a phone call can bring many benefits. Following up over the phone means you can:
- Confirm your application has been received
- Demonstrate your enthusiasm for the role
- Promote your skills and talents (if asked) and create a lasting impression that isn’t restricted to paper documents
- Initiate a sustainable relationship with the recruiter or hiring manager
If you follow up and discover that your application has been rejected, you’ll also have the chance to learn why you weren’t successful and you’ll be able to amend the weaker areas in your application strategy for next time.
Mistake #3: Going In Cold
Instead: Prepare Thoroughly for the Interview
If you make it to the interview phase, preparing and rehearsing your interview technique can give you a strong competitive edge – and enhances your chances of standing out from other applicants.
- Research the employer and the people who will be interviewing you as much as possible. Find out what you can about the company’s approach, values, goals and culture.
- Practise your interview questions and answers. This involves not only knowing what to say, but understanding how to “read between the lines” of each question you are asked and formulating strong responses that speak directly to the employer’s needs. If you are unsure about how to conduct a rehearsal, a short coaching session on interviewing techniques may be beneficial.
- Review the job description carefully before you go into the interview and make sure you understand exactly how your competencies fulfil each criteria and how they can consequently help the organisation achieve its goals.
Mistake #4: Disappearing Into the Woodwork
Instead: Follow Up After the Interview
After the interview, follow up with a thank you email. This gesture will leave a good impression on the interviewers and also means you can clarify or re-respond to any questions you were asked but felt you didn’t answer effectively in the actual interview.
If you don’t hear back from the recruiter or the employer after a significant amount of time has passed (I’d say a minimum of one week), continue to follow up accordingly.
Mistake #5: Saying ‘Yes’ Straight Away
Solution: Confirm the Details Before You Sign
Being the final, successful candidate in any application process is a wonderful feeling and it’s easy to just jump in say “yes!” However, this is also the crucial time when negotiations need to take place, so you should ensure everything is order before you accept:
- Obtain a final copy of the contract and job description and double-check that your duties and responsibilities are documented and accurate.
- Negotiate your salary and/or benefits, using clear evidence and examples to support your requests. In general, don’t just settle on the first offer, especially if you feel your talents warrant more. If you win any negotiations, make sure these are added to your contract before you sign.
- Check and if necessary, negotiate your start date. Remember, you’ll need to give yourself ample time to resign and finish up in your present role.