Five common job seeker pitfalls - HR Future helps people prepare for the Future of Work and is South Africa's leading print, digital and online Human Resources magazine.

Five common job seeker pitfalls


With job prospects improving, workers are looking to greener pastures, but simple mistakes in the application process may be holding them back from landing a new opportunity.
Workers realize that the job market is stronger than it has been over the last eight years, and technology is allowing them to pursue new opportunities faster and more efficiently than ever. But, just because they are able to submit an application easier, doesn't mean candidates can skip basic steps or requirements, like submitting a cover letter or customizing their CVs. These items get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, and leaving them out of the process can hurt a job seeker's chances of securing a new job.

Most common job seeker mistakes

Candidates need to take extra care when it comes to all aspects of the hiring process. Avoiding these simple mistakes will get you closer to that job you're pursuing:

54 percent of job seekers don't customize their CV for each employer. Employers can spot all purpose CVs from a mile away. Tailor your CV to match the job description by inserting key words used in the job posting that match your experience. Not only will this catch the eye of the hiring manager, but it can move your CV to the top of the pile if an automated tracking system is scanning CVs for potential candidates.

84 percent of job seekers don't find out the hiring manager's name and personalize the application. Applying directly to the hiring managers increases your chances of getting noticed and shows you've gone that extra step and invested time in getting to know the company.

45 percent of job seekers don't include a cover letter with their CV. Cover letters allow a candidate the opportunity to sell themselves beyond the typical listing of work experience and skills in a CV. Use a cover letter to introduce yourself and showcase your credentials in a relatable way.

37 percent of job seekers don't follow up with an employer after they applied. Recruiters can sometimes be overwhelmed by candidate applications for certain open jobs. Circling back with a recruiter or hiring manager after submitting a cover letter and CV can help job seekers standout among the competition.

57 percent of job seekers don't send thank you notes after an interview. This can be one of the most important steps in a candidate's pre-hire journey as it enables you to reiterate why you're the best fit for the job. Most recruiters and hiring managers expect a thank you note in some form or another (email or handwritten), so neglecting this action will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Thank you notes should be sent after phone screening calls, as well.

Additional advice to help get the job

Below are few additional tips aimed at keeping job seekers informed and improving their chances on the career hunt:

Join an employer's talent network or talent community. Stay up to date on the latest job opportunities from ideal employers, so you can continue to show interest in working for the company.

Social media can be an asset to job seekers, not a weakness. Recruiters using social media to screen candidates have reached an all time high, but job seekers can use it to their advantage, too. Find out who you know at a potential employer and ask for a referral, or learn about latest company news to make for a more engaging conversation in an interview.

Practice your conversation skills with as many people as possible prior to an interview. Excellent written and verbal communication skills are quickly becoming the most sought after talents in job seekers across all industries. Look for ways to highlight these skills in your cover letter, CV and interviews.

Rosemary Haefner is the Chief Human Resources Officer for CareerBuilder.

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