We’re going to be hiring again. I still have supervisors who are training to interview people so I won’t be part of the interviews. It’s a shame. I get so much good material to write about when I do the interviews. However, I do go through the applications and select a decent sized group that I then pass on to my supervisors to review and pick a final selection from (another area in which they are being trained). Going through applications can give me some good topics to write about also. This post is about some things that can hurt you on an application.
If you are applying for a job your first contact, and impression, is made by your application. More and more those applications are made online. You are not standing there in front of people so they can’t see how well you dress, how friendly your are or anything like that. It’s all reading what you write. Here are some things that can hurt you. I’ll start with one of my pet peeves. It’s a minor thing but is really annoying for me.
- Capitalize your name properly. It really irks me to have someone write their name without capitals. Isn’t this something we learned in the first grade or thereabouts? Isn’t this person educated. Don’t they have enough common sense to realize that they should try to appear professional on an application? Or are they so lazy they can’t even be bothered to make the effort to hit the shift key while they hit the first letter in their name? Those are the kinds of thoughts that go through my head. You may feel that’s pretty petty but I’m the one picking the application. You’re the one who wants a job. Do what you need to do to get it.
- Crazy email address. Most places ask for an email address and ask if you want to be contacted that way. People, if you have an email address like HotMama, or Studmiester don’t put it on the application. Make another email address with your name and however many numbers it takes to find one that’s not taken. You would not believe the email addresses people didn’t think twice about putting on their applications. Some were so lewd that I wouldn’t even consider using them as examples. I toss those applications. Be professional with your email addresses.
- Too little information. I previously wrote an article that include some comments on giving too much information. There is a flip side to that. You can give too little information also. For example, you were a cashier at a pet store. Don’t put just the word “cashier” in the job description. Say you were a cashier, you balanced your cash drawer daily, you provided excellent customer service, you greeted customers as they came in, you always stayed upbeat and smiling with your customers… There are things you can say to give the person reading your application a better idea of who you are.
- Reason for Leaving: Resigned. This area is one of my favorites. The things I find in this little tiny section are amazing. Too bad some of the best ones can’t be printed. It would be too obvious to the applicant that I was speaking about them. Let’s start with a simple one. Resigned. Resigned is an action, not a reason for leaving. When an applicant puts resigned on his application he is telling me that he does not want to admit why he left. My thought process: if he doesn’t want to admit why he left it must be something that will put him in a negative light. And I toss the application. Give a reason. On a side note, if you retired putting “Retired” is perfectly acceptable.
- Reason for Leaving: (Blank). This is very similar to putting resigned. I’ve gotten applications where they skipped the reason for leaving for every single job. My thought process: he thinks I will think that’s just the way he fills out an application. There’s probably one job he particularly doesn’t want me to know why he isn’t there anymore and is trying to hide it in the group. Some people will leave off the reason for leaving on some jobs but put it on others. Those really tell me they’re trying to hide something. I toss applications that don’t give a reason for leaving. I doubt I’m the only one who does.
- Reason for Leaving: Left for a better job. This is a very valid reason to leave a job. Guess what the next thing is I’ll do? You got it, I look to see what that better job was. If there is a significant gap between jobs, say 3 weeks or more, I have to wonder if the applicant is telling the truth. It really makes me wonder when that better job is a job that pays less than the one he just left.
- Reason for Leaving: I was fired for poor attendance. Well, at least he was honest. And yes, I actually did get one that said this. In most cases honesty is the best policy but that doesn’t mean you can’t soften it up a little bit. Give a touch more information. Something like, “I experienced a period with some serious personal issues and missed too much work. I have since resolved those issues.” You don’t even have to say you were fired. I get it. Things do happen in a person’s life. I will look at other jobs you have held and why you left those. If you have a pattern of “personal issues” I’m going to toss your application but if it was a one time thing, I’ll consider you (assuming everything else is good).
- Reason for Leaving: The boss was a jerk. He didn’t know what he was doing or how to run the business. Your application (or interview if you get one) is not the place to vent about a previous employer. There are plenty of people who feel that they know better than the boss does. The vast majority of the time they don’t know anywhere near as much as they think they do. I don’t want someone who is already showing me that he feels he knows more than anyone else. I also don’t want someone who so blatantly shows how inappropriate he is willing to be. Tossed this application. (Btw, I toned this down a touch to protect the guilty).
- Reason for Leaving: Personal. I will discuss at the interview. Yes, many of us may have personal reasons why we left a job but good interviewers will not bring it up in an interview. They will have a certain set of questions that they ask everyone. I will be writing more about this in the Being the Boss category, at a later date. Since we won’t ask about it I have to assume we won’t ever get the answer which is the same to me as putting no answer at all in the Reason for Leaving spot on the application. This is a toss for me. You don’t have to go into mega-detail but give something. Go back to #7 in this list for an example of how to soften up an answer.
- Time you are willing to work: Days only. This isn’t so much of a negative as it is a damper on any enthusiasm the reader may have had over your application. If you can truly only work days then definitely put days. In my case, my department is 24/7 and the application specifically states it’s shift work. I like the applications where the person shows they are willing to work any hours. That says to me they seriously want a job. They’re not limiting themselves. They understand that getting a foot in the door is the first step to advancement.
Like I said, the application is your very first impression. Don’t blow a good job history with little mistakes.