The Four Job Applicants You Do Not Want to Be and the One You Do
You’ve probably heard this a million times before, but looking for a job is no easy task. Not only is this quest towards the ideal job riddled with the usual twists, turns and milestones, but there are also the sneaky, almost inevitable blunders that are just waiting to happen. I say ‘almost inevitable’, because if you know to look for them, you can keep them from creeping up on you. That said, you shouldn’t be afraid of making mistakes. Making mistakes is human and you can’t really please everybody, no matter how hard you try. I understand. I’ve been there. Only, I’ve been there as the typo-on-the-cv applicant, the autobiographical-cover-letter applicant, the networking-novice applicant, the underprepared-for-the-interview applicant and, eventually, I became the hired-for-the-job candidate.
This journey from hiccup to hire is a staple of every job seeking journey, but there’s nothing wrong with getting ahead of the curve and learning from someone else’s mistakes. At the very least, it will save you a lot of CV-printing paper.
Today, I would like to introduce you to the four applicants you don’t want to be and the one candidate you should aspire toward! Hopefully, by the end of this journey, you’ll be able to steer clear of these trouble-making mistakes and set sail toward your ideal job smoothly.
Introducing our first applicant, Samer is a young job seeker who is passionate about finding a job, any job, as quickly and efficiently as possible. He wrote his CV in one sitting and let the spell check on the computer do all the work, not bothering to give his CV more than one quick skim for errors before sending his CV off to as many employers as possible.
There are two problems here. The first is that Samer, or any job seeker who wants to get a job efficiently, should not have a one-size-fits-all CV. The problem with those is that the more generic your CV is, the less likely it will be perfect for a specific role. Instead of writing one CV and placing all your bets on it, create multiple CVs tailored to the jobs that interest you. This may sound daunting at first, but you can create a template to build up on and rewrite details in your career objective, skills section and anywhere else you deem necessary in order to ensure your CV is rich with all the right keywords that demonstrate your fit for the position you desire.
The second is that there are a lot of errors even spell check can’t save you from. For example, a mistake I see often is ‘definitely’ written as ‘defiantly’. They’re both words, and so the telltale red line wouldn’t appear beneath either of them, but they have very different meanings and can hinder your chances at impressing the employer. Always remember to give your CV a thorough proofread.
Ahmad is a little different from our first applicant. Alongside his CV, he puts a lot of effort into crafting a cover letter he thinks will impress. After aimlessly looking at templates online and not finding anything that really speaks to him, he writes his own cover letter and talks about everything that led him up to this point. His grades in school, his after-school activities, the reason he chose to study his university degree, his hobbies and interests and why he wants to be the chosen employee at this company. Hats off to Ahmad for putting his best effort into equipping his application with a CV, but unfortunately for him, he’s already run into a little problem. His cover letter has a whole lot of ‘me’ and a total lack of what the company really wants to know: how Ahmad can help them.
Your cover letter should, of course, talk about you as a candidate, but don’t mistake it as a chance to divulge your life story. Chances are, though it might be an entertaining story, your hiring manager doesn’t have the time to read through a four-page essay about your life, hobbies and dreams. Keep your cover letter on one page and focus on the side of yourself the employer does want to know about. What kind of professional you are, how you deal with problems and high-stress situations, what work experience you have attained, any volunteer work and, most importantly, what you know about the company and what motivated you to apply to them.
Chances are you are applying to the company because they have a vacancy and not because of any vested interest in the company itself. But, a little effort goes a long way when it comes to these matters, and doing your homework on the company doubles your chances of impressing the employer. Read about the company’s brands, values and mission and demonstrate how you fit into that picture.
There is nothing more frustrating than making it through the worst parts of your job search, getting your CV and cover letter noticed by an employer and impressing them enough to call you in for an interview….only for you to hit a wall there. This is Ula’s problem. Ula has no problem getting the occasional interview, and has followed all the advice she could find on Lebanese Jobs regarding writing a CV and cover letter that is bound to impress. The problem with Ula is that her effort pretty much stops after the application step.
There’s something akin to a high that washes over you when you get called in for an interview. An extreme happiness that stems from knowing that the employer saw something they liked in your CV and cover letter, but it would be naïve to think you are the only person they are interviewing for the role. Because I was the first and last person interviewed for my first job (which I was actually hired for), I carried this sense of overconfidence into every other interview I went through. It wasn’t that I made no effort at all, but I definitely did not prepare myself well enough when it came to learning about the employer, their projects, values, aims and vision. If you are like me, or Ula, who also does not arm herself with the knowledge she needs prior to attending her interview, it is very unlikely that you will impress the employer.
Make sure you prepare for the interview by fully reading through the company’s profile on Lebanese Jobs as well as perusing their website for any additional information. Another good idea would be to go through news articles, be they negative or positive, in order to have a full scope of what the company is about, how they want to present themselves to the public and how the public actually sees them. Remember, you need to be able to not only answer questions<, but ask some questions of your own.
The next candidate I want you to meet is one I think we can all relate to. When she first starts looking for jobs, she dives in headfirst. Nour makes an account, fills in her CV and starts applying for the jobs that stood out for her. Like many of us, she also sends cover letters for each application and made sure her CV was up to scratch. Unfortunately, she stops there. You might not immediately see the problem in this case, because it is what most people do. They write a CV and cover letter, send it off to x number employers and wait for the phone to ring.
But, what if the employer doesn’t contact you? What if you, like Nour, send out application after application to every job that matched your needs in terms of location and job role only to be met with radio silence? What’s the next step? Do you wait for the next job posting to be made on Lebanese Jobs idly while stomaching your frustration?
While this might all sound a bit dramatic as there are thousands of jobs on Lebanese Jobs, this happens all the time. It happened to me frequently. I would have a long list of jobs to apply to and, eventually, I would have ticked all the employers on the list with little to show for it. There is nothing wrong with this and we commend anyone who has been applying for jobs here, there and everywhere, but there should be no point in your journey where you just stop, sit around and wait. If there aren’t any other jobs that interest you out there, and you feel like you’re stuck, then there are other things you could be doing right here on Lebanese Jobs to secure yourself a job or increase your chances of getting hired.
What many of us neglect when applying for jobs is networking. Yes, not making new contacts and building relationships can be the thing holding you back. A lot of people tend to give up socializing when seriously looking for a job, so it might be shocking to some to think that you should be doing the right kind of socializing throughout your job search.
Use online professional networks such as People on Lebanese Jobs and reach out to professionals through answering their questions on Specialties in order to meet new people with the same interests and aims as you. This will only expose you to more areas of interests, provide you with more people to ask advice from and put a greater number of job opportunities on your radar.
Now that you have met the four applicants that you should avoid being, it is time to introduce you to the final candidate, to whom you should be aspiring.
Meet Farah. Farah avoids all the above mistakes and goes above and beyond for her job applications. Not only does she customize every CV and cover letter for each position she applies for, she has a video CV on her Lebanese Jobs profile and has even prepared a work portfolio of her past work. She maintains an active online presence in all her professional networks even while she is employed and keeps her eyes and ears wide-open for any new opportunities.
While it might seem too good to be true, you can be like Farah, too. All you need to do is take heed of the above mistakes and put your best effort into your job applications. It is then that you, too, can become the hired-for-the-job candidate.
Sound off in the comments below if you have any advice or feedback of your own to share. It is through your thoughts and stories that we at Lebanese Jobs learn continually. Share this piece when anyone you think it might help, and we look forward to hearing your future success story.