5 of the Best and Worst Job Applications

Writing a CV or job application can be an etiquette minefield; do you include a photograph in your CV, note the reasons why you left your last job or include why you dropped out of that degree course you started a while back?

We’ve all had to go through the arduous task of writing CVs and completing job application forms before, we know it can be tricky and at times perhaps boring – but please, for your own sake, think about what impression you’re giving!  

In true end-of-year style, we decided to take a look at the stand out bloopers, blunders and straight mistakes we’ve witnessed over the past year. The award goes to...

Most Embarrassing Blooper

]Oh this one’s a good’un! Earlier on in the year I was hiring for junior level admin-type roles based in the clinical research industry. My inbox just about exploded with the amount of applications I had so the adverts only stayed up a few days, but I had one application that made the process of trawling through the 100+ worthwhile.

A candidate sent a very well-written email and then attached their CV and covering letter for the role – turns out this poor guy had attached a letter he’d written to his girlfriend in place of the covering letter. I politely responded to his email as if none the wiser, after I’d had a good laugh though, obviously.

Worst CV Photograph

The age old question – photographs on CVs, yay or nay? If your vote is yes then where do you draw the line – a selfie, a decent photograph with a glass of wine cropped out? I’d just avoid that whole issue and leave your CV picture-free. Alternatively you could follow the lead of my personal favourite candidate this year… a wind-swept model shot with excessive amounts of lip gloss. Needless to say it didn’t give the most professional first impression!

Most Creative Application

This one’s not exactly embarrassing, in fact it’s pretty impressive; it’s just really not necessary. For roles based in Design and the Creative industries, a CV made using Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop is a great idea – allowing you to demonstrate your skills and creative style before you’ve even got your foot in the door. In roles across Healthcare, Clinical Research and IT – not so much. My award for Most Creative Application of 2018 goes again to a junior level candidate who presented her CV with a covering letter made up of trees, each branch was made up of words describing the candidate, complete with faded leaves in the background – a great effort to get noticed, but really not suitable for the industry the role was based in.

Worst Reason for Leaving

‘Reason for leaving last job: Turned my boss down at the Christmas party and now my working environment is awkward.’ This is a genuine answer I’ve been given when interviewing candidates. No further explanation needed – please don’t let this be you when you begin your job search in 2019.

Best Example of Succinctness

Job applications may include word counts or even space boundaries to limit the length of your answers and test how succinct you can be when giving examples of your past work. That does not mean you can simply answer with “I’m a hard worker etc.” – that will get you no-where! Try and explain your experience giving as much detail as you can whilst staying within the limits you have to work with. I find it’s much easier to draft and re-draft to cut out content, rather than going into the process knowing you have a limit and attempting 2 abrevi8 evrythn.

Make 2015 the year you focus on writing the best job applications and CVs you can; the more attention you give these tasks the more likely it is that you’ll get to interview stage and then it’s down to you to sell your skills in person. Enjoy the festive season and please don’t give yourself a reason for leaving your current role after the office Christmas party!

How to Prep a Candidate for Guaranteed Interview Success

Heidi Gardner

Heidi is PhD student at the University of Aberdeen. Her research focuses on the issues surrounding the recruitment of patients into clinical trials.

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