Apr 13, 2012

Five Big No-No's When Submitting a Job Application

(Image by The Nothing Corporation)
I've recently posted a Writers Wanted ad at Pinoyexchange, and I've received so many unbelievable job applications, I just felt compelled to write this post.

Dear friends, if you're applying for a job, especially for an online job, please do not sabotage your chances of getting the job by making these following mistakes:

1. Not following instructions. It's not just about credentials and work samples. We need to know that you can follow instructions. If you're applying for an online job, most especially, we need to know that you can follow written instructions, since we can't be there watching over your shoulder, making sure you're doing things right.

If the person who posted the ad says "Put 'Peanut Butter Sandwich' on the subject line," do that even if it sounds ridiculous. These instructions are there to help us see early on if we can work with you or not.

If the ad poster asks you to attach your best unedited sample article, do not attach three; frankly, we have better things to do with our time than download and review three sample articles, trying to find the best one for you.

2. Omitting the salutation. It's good practice to find out the name of the person you're sending an application to. Often, companies make this easy by including in the job ad the name of the person you should send the application to. If they did not include it, it is a simple matter of making a pre-application phone call and asking the company directly whom you should send the application to.

If you really can't find the name and title of the person you are applying to, at least write, "Dear Sir/Madam." Do not write "To whom it may concern." And do not omit the salutation entirely and go directly to the body of your letter. That does not only bespeak of rudeness, it also shows you to be ignorant of basic business letter writing rules, which you should have learned in high school.

3. Putting someone else's email address in the "Sent to" field. This practice says, "I sent 200 applications today to random companies, hoping one of them will be stupid enough to hire me. You're one of the companies in my BCC list." E-mails like this are spam, and few self-respecting people read spam. I don't.

4. Attaching a generic resume. If you're applying for a writer position, send a resume that highlights your skills as a writer. Your experience as an English teacher is relevant; your patent in waterproof edible toys isn't, and it simply takes up a valuable line in your resume.

If you have nothing in your resume that is relevant to the job you are applying to, explain in your application letter that you have no relevant experience and why the company you are applying to should consider hiring you anyway.

5. Omitting the application letter. The application letter is your very first chance to plead your case. A well-written application letter tells the hiring company that they are dealing with somebody who is intelligent, educated, pleasant, and polite. At the very least, your application letter can remind the hiring officer that he or she is dealing with a human being who simply wants to live a decent life and is looking for the chance to do that by applying to the company.

A good application letter can improve your chances of getting hired. A missing application letter says you have much better things to think of than this  job. While that is always true, it is foolish to make it so blatantly obvious during the application process.

Having said all these, what makes a good job application? We'll talk about that in the next article.

What about you? Have you ever been tasked to evaluate job applicants? What are your job application pet peeves?

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