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10 Reasons Your Job Application Will Be Rejected

Updated on June 11, 2014

2. Illegible Application

Some applications require you to handwrite them. If you have hand writing like chicken scratches, you would be better off asking someone to help you. Your application may be amazing, but if the recipient can't read it, you're wasting your time.

Where possible, download a copy and type the information. If this is not an option, use block capital letters and write in black pen.

1. Not Following Instructions

It can be frustrating for a hiring manager when they have detailed specific instructions in a job description, only for half of the candidates to ignore them.

Not following instructions is a sure fire way to have your application rejected in the initial stages of pre-selection, so make sure you read the job description fully to determine what the recruiter wants from you. If you don't, they will assume that you will not follow instructions while in the work place.

Things to look out for are:

  • The name of the person to whom you are applying
  • The details of how to apply eg. by email, in person, by telephone
  • What information they require from you
  • Closing date
  • Interview date

Even in a huge pile of applications, the reader will spot spelling and grammar mistakes at first glance.
Even in a huge pile of applications, the reader will spot spelling and grammar mistakes at first glance.

3. Spelling and Grammatical Errors

Spelling and grammar are important in ensuring that your application stands the best chance of passing the initial stages. Write a draft copy of your application before you do the hard copy and proofread it several times. Ask someone for a second opinion if you are not 100% sure the information is error free.

The same applies to your resume or CV. Double check for mistakes before you press the send key.

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4. Missing Information

Application forms can drive candidates potty as they take a long time to complete and require more thought than just sending your ready prepared CV or resume. Ensuring that you have completed all the information requested will maximise your chances of success, so don't assume that you can leave out some details in the hope that you can explain everything at the interview. The chances are you won't get the interview if you have missed information.

Missing out details may make the hiring manager presume that if you are "sloppy" with your application, you will be less than diligent at work.

Quite often, there is a box on an application form, which asks "If you have any additional information that supports your application, please detail here" or a general comments box. Most candidates don't bother to fill in this section, which can result in rejection, so here is a golden opportunity for you to shine. Add any information that will show the employer you are serious about the job role and are the best person for the position.

5. Application Not Bespoke to the Job Role

Whether it is your resume, CV or an application form you are sending to the organisation, it is important to cater it towards the job role and company to which you are applying. Many applications are so general that they could be sent to any business and employers hate that!

With every application, make sure you really, thoroughly read through the job description and do some background research on both the company and sector. You can then make each application you send specific to the position and will most certainly stand out from all the competing candidates who don't take the time to do this.

7. Applying for Jobs You Are Under Qualified For

This is simply wasting your time. Read through the job description and look for all the requirements of the role. Even if you "think" you can do the job, it doesn't mean the employer will think you can.

If you are under qualified, look for ways to upgrade your skills and experience and apply next time a vacancy becomes available or apply speculatively when the time is right.

6. Applying for a Job You Are Overqualified For

This can be a huge mistake, unless you can let the hiring manager see your reason for applying. If you are over qualified for the position, it will be presumed that you won't stick around if they hire you and will leave as soon as a position more suited to your skills and experience comes along.

If you are over qualified and are looking for a career change, say so on your application. A great way to do this is by detailing your objective in a cover letter.

Perhaps you have a more personal reason, such as wishing to work closer to home or the hours work around your current commitments? The same applies, but do be very careful that you don't cite every nitty gritty detail about any sensitive issues. Keep it professional and let the hiring manager understand that whatever your motive, you are serious about the job role and will be committed to being loyal.


8. Using Jargon, Acronyms or Corporate Gobbledegook

The person reading your initial application may not be the person who will be interviewing you, or hiring you. Quite often, someone in an assistant position or someone from Human Resources will be tasked with the initial pre-selection stage. If you are talking in jargon, using acronyms or trying to be clever with terms you deem as corporate speak, you are more than likely to confuse the reader.

Say it like it is - by all means use abbreviations, but also take the time to include the full term in the first instance, so that the reader understands. For example: Independent Financial Adviser can be used first then abbreviated to IFA thereafter. Acronyms, for example writing that you achieved S.M.A.R.T objectives may make perfect sense to you, but unless you know that means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timebound, you won't know...don't confuse the reader.

Finally, please take my word for it that corporate gobbledegook, such as "Blue Sky Thinking" and "Shining Beacons of Excellence" are a HUGE turn off. Just don't...I repeat, don't...once again, DON'T!

9. Not Sending a Cover Letter

You wouldn't sent a parcel in the mail without an accompanying letter to the recipient, so think of your application as a gift to the employer.

A cover letter is an introduction to show off your skills and expertise, so use it as a golden opportunity to sell yourself into the role. If you don't, the employer may think you can't be bothered and probably won't even read your application.

10. Missing the Deadline

If the closing date for applications is 30th June, for example, make sure you make the deadline. Late applications often get rejected, particularly in recent years when there is an abundance of candidates applying for each job.

The only exception is that if you spot the job advert after the deadline has passed and you truly fee that you meet all the criteria. Make a quick call to the hiring manager and ask politely if you can send in your application as you have only just discovered the vacancy. If this is agreeable, make sure you send it in right away and include a thank you in your cover letter.

Don't delay, mail it today!
Don't delay, mail it today!

Calling all hiring managers

Are you a hiring manager? I'd love to hear from you about the reasons you reject job applications.


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