You’ve submitted your CV or application form but can’t seem to convert applications into interviews. You’re not alone. Hundreds – if not thousands – of applicants find themselves in a permanent cycle of application, followed by rejection. So, how do you turn that ‘no’ into a ‘yes’? In a nutshell: by giving the employers what they’ve asked for! It might sound rather trite and overly simplistic but feedback from graduate recruiters suggests that many applicants are failing to get even the basics right.
I took some time out at our big careers fair last term to ask a few of our employers why they reject applications and some common themes began to emerge. Take a moment to watch the film and avoid the application pitfalls.
Just for emphasis….
- Think about where YOU fit into the company and its culture. Treat each application individually and make sure your research shines through. You can’t do justice to graduate job applications with a quick scan of the company website, so make sure you are thorough and meticulous with your research. Employers know that you are also applying to their competitors, but they want to feel special. Try to show that you understand them and can find common ground and shared values.
- Check the requirements. Although many graduate schemes and roles are open to applicants from any degree discipline, do not assume this is the case. Find out before you apply – don’t waste valuable time and effort applying for something you’re not eligible for. As Michelle (Severn Trent) comments, over 50% of applicants to their graduate programmes are rejected because they don’t meet the basic requirements.
- Follow the STAR method. Most of you are probably familiar with STAR (or its various incarnations: CAR, CARE, STARE) but not all applicants are using this framework to good effect. Put the greatest emphasis on ‘action’ and ‘result’ and avoid overly descriptive accounts that promise much, but say little. If you’re not on the application treadmill yet, it’s probably worth taking some time to record and reflect on your experiences to date. Drafting good, STAR-quality answers is very time consuming, so don’t leave it all until just before the application deadline.
- It sounds obvious but check, check and check again! Even minor spelling or grammatical errors may be enough to cast your application onto the ‘no’ pile. Some companies have a very low tolerance for typos and will only allow one or two mistakes – or maybe none at all. It’s also worth considering what impression an error-strewn application will make on a potential recruiter.
- Treat the application process seriously and give each and every form your full attention. And remember, quality trumps quantity…