Abigail Stevens, Managing Director of Think Global Recruitment writes…

recent survey has shown that 45% of potential graduate applicants are being
rejected for mistakes on applications, lack of interview preparation or
technique. 47% are being rejected for a lack of relevant experience.

leavers and graduates are not preparing themselves well enough for the business
world.  They are underestimating work
experience and a large proportion of first job applications being submitted for
vacancies are being rejected for very simple and avoidable reasons.

Covering notes are essential when
applying for jobs, consider it the introduction to the Company and role you are
applying for. It is not good enough to just blindly send a CV to someone and
expect a response. Use the covering letter to entice the recipient to read your
CV. Fiona Godsman, the CEO of the Scottish Institute for Enterprise says “We get a lot of applications
for our positions. If there is no properly tailored application letter, then
they rarely get interviewed. Even worse, they haven’t changed the letter, so it
says “I really want to work for xxxx”, with xxxx being another organisation!”

, Director at Contract Scotland Ltd   Agreed
with Fiona stating ‘Whilst we are trying not to be overly picky about
spelling/grammar, if our adverts demand a cover letter and nothing comes
through it shows another churned out application, inability to digest information
or even take instruction!’

I personally have reviewed and
provided advice to enhance literally thousands of CVs in the 18 years I have
been involved in recruitment and am amazed that applications have got worse, not better in recent years.  In an age when everyone uses a computer to
create an application, there is no excuse for spelling mistakes.   

those that successfully pass through the CV screening process, candidates are failing
badly at the interview stage. Lack of preparation for interviews is very easy
for any experienced recruiter to notice. This can demonstrate the individual is
not really that keen on the opportunity, that they may cut corners in the work
place, or have a lack of attention to details. 
One of the most bizarre questions I have been
asked in an interview situation was when the candidate was asked if they had any
questions, the response was ‘Yes. Can you please tell me what your company
does.’   It is important to ask questions
to engage with your interviewer but ensure that the questions show enthusiasm
for the job and not a severe lack of preparation.

We have
our future generation of the business world coming out of University with very
desirable attributes but are letting themselves down in areas that are
inexcusable.  Below are what may seem to
be very obvious hints and tips, but are essential when it comes to applying for
your dream job;

  • Use all the resources that your
    University offers you, placements/work experience in your area of study is
    absolutely priceless and shows a desire to work in that particular field,
    whether this is done through your University or off your own back.
  • Always, always, ALWAYS add a
    covering letter/email tailored to the exact job that you are applying for,
    not just a brief ‘Please find enclosed my CV’
  • Use the cover note as a sales
    pitch, it’s your 10 second introduction to entice the recipient into
    opening the Email and seriously looking a your CV.
  • Get someone else to read and
    re-read your application to ensure that every statement is required and
    makes sense.
  • Phone the company you’ve applied
    for a few days after you send your email, it puts a personality to your CV
    and makes you stand out, but always be polite.
  • Research the company as much as
    possible prior to the interview, the Internet is a tool that should be
    exploited, there is no excuse. Do your research as this shows how much you
    want the job.
  • Competency questions are as common
    as ever, research these to practice some answers in the line of work that
    you are applying for. This is a very good habit to get into.
 Top Ten application mistakes

10. Interview Technique – Interviewer
‘Please describe a time when you resolved a conflict situation and talked
someone else around to your way of thinking.’ Interviewee: ‘At a night club
last weekend, I had to talk a really aggressive guy around from hitting my

9. Application Mistakes – Application
sales role.  Covering email said ‘CV
attached’, they couldn’t even sell themselves.

8. Application Mistakes – Spelling
mistakes on application covering email for PA role.

7. Interview Technique – Getting the
interviewers name wrong at the start of the interview and continued to do so,
but with different names each time.

6. Lack of Interview Preparation  – Applicant had final interview with the
Managing Director. When discussing possible career progression, an organisation
chart was produced. The applicant asked ‘so where do you fit on this chart?’

5. Interview Technique – Applicant asked
why they wanted to work for the organisation they applied to. The reply was
‘because the agency told them to’.

4. Interview Technique – Interviewer asked
applicant if they had any questions. Applicant ‘Firstly, what salary will you
pay me? Secondly what hours do I have to work? I am looking for a life

3. Lack of Interview Preparation  – Interviewee when asked if they had any
questions about the job replied ‘yes can you tell me what your company does?’

2. Lack of Interview Preparation  – Financial Services professional thought he
had the job in the bag. He was almost right. Being a specialist with highly
sort after skills, moving from one major international firm in London to another. He
turned up to his final interview late, with a black eye. No apology, but when
asked said ‘I was out with a few of your staff last night and we got drunk, I
fell over’. He really thought the name dropping regarding socialising with
other members of their team would clinch the deal! The interview was keen to
fill the position, but not desperate.

1.  Application
– An applicant had already applied to same company 2 years
previously, but the process hadn’t moved to offer because they went elsewhere.
The company was delighted to see they were applying again, until the original
interview notes were pulled out. The dates on her previous CV and new one did
not match. Whole jobs had been left out. Yes the new CV was more impressive;
however it was a pack of lies.