What are you assuming a recruiter should know about you?
Are you selective in what you include in your applications?
Do you hope your suitability will just ‘speak for itself’?
As recruitment is time and resource intensive, it’s your job as a candidate to make sure you’re not creating seeds of doubt in the mind of the recruiter. Recruiters are not mind-readers! If something is not clear on your application, it could be assumed you’ve not done it or you don’t want it enough. That is a sure fire way to see your application hits the reject pile.
Here are six assumptions that many candidates make that can have a negative impact with recruiters.
#1 ASSUMPTION: “I don’t need to explain every part of my job and experience to a recruiter. They should know what skills I’m referring to – isn’t it obvious?’
A typical example here is when you list the duties and responsibilities of a job, but there’s no reference to the skills you’ve gained or what you achieved during that time. Yes, it may be implied that you will have developed certain attributes and skills from what you’ve done. However, recruiters need to know how much you understand what you can offer and the transferability of that experience.
Sometimes, stating the obvious is part of the process of being clear and concise in selling the parts of your experiences that are of potential interest.
#2 ASSUMPTION: “I won’t include it as I need to hold something back for the interview!”
A further assumption here is that you’ll get an interview! If your CV doesn’t create the great first impression to encourage the recruiter to meet you, then holding things back from your application could be a missed opportunity. Your CV is not a novel that has to include absolutely everything you’ve done. Part of the skill of marketing yourself is to learn what to showcase and present it in a way that is logical, concise, positive and visually appealing.
Rather than write reams about every single experience, just focus on the ones that highlight the most relevant or transferable insights to the job applied for. Consider summarising periods of employment, for example, by grouping together across a year span, and provide brief details for less relevant parts.
#3 ASSUMPTION: “It’s not relevant, so I don’t need to include it!”
According to whom? When deciding what is or isn’t relevant to include on an application, you can sometimes miss off all sorts of experiences (casual jobs, volunteering, interests) as you don’t feel it will be of interest or is not directly relevant. The risk you run here is two-fold; you can have a patchy-looking CV with odd gaps in the timeline, or a recruiter will just be in the dark over what you’ve done so far.
Understand what you’re applying for and what are the most important requirements needed for you to be successful in that role. For recent graduates, for example, it’s very common for them to think temporary work is not relevant. Well, it may not be in the industry you’re targeting but, instead, put the focus on what you’ve learnt/achieved during these experiences and highlight what may be of interest or transferable to another role/company. Ask yourself: “What does it say about me as a candidate?”
#4 ASSUMPTION: I’ll just skip over things that may not look good. No one will notice!
If you present incomplete or ambiguous information, you create a question mark in the recruiters mind about you. Perhaps you do this because you’re thinking they won’t notice, or maybe you’re not sure what to write, or worried it’s not going to look good.
- Not disclosing academic results
- Lots of temporary jobs
- Unexplained periods of unemployment
- A career break
- Vague dates or no dates.
Be prepared to outline and explain any of the above at an interview, as recruiters may ask you to clarify or confirm. Yet, be aware that for some recruiters, a lack of information will prevent you from getting to the shortlist pile.
Be honest, reflect on your experiences and reasons, and consider, if appropriate, what you may have done differently or what have been barriers to you. Never lie nor be creative with the truth – you’ll only end up getting entangled in a complex web of stories that you can’t remember or doesn’t make sense.
#5 ASSUMPTION: Career Motivation “I’m really interested in learning new things and taking on my next challenge in whatever role I’m successful in.”
How you address your career motivation and interest in your choice of company are the back-bone of every application. Unconvincing and unclear reasons will inevitably influence how an employer perceives your commitment to the role and company.
- A poorly written, vague, unfocused career profile on the CV
- It’s unclear where this job role may fit into your career plans
- Applying for a completely different job role/sector from your current employment
- Applied for a job that involves you taking a salary reduction from your current job (however small or significant)
- Applied for a lower level position with less responsibility than you’ve been used to
- Not meeting all the requirements of the role
#6 ASSUMPTION: Interest in the company: “I’d love to work for such a great, dynamic company like yours.”
- Your reasons for applying for the job/company are generic and uninspired
- Everything you have written could apply to dozens of other companies
Demonstrate clear reasons for choosing their company by making an effort to research what they do and how you may fit within their business. A generic application/covering letter could indicate an unmotivated candidate who may lack a curiosity and enthusiasm about what a company can offer them, and is not prepared to invest the time needed to submit a quality application.