What not to do when applying for jobs

There is no shortage of advice around the job application process: How to find and secure your ideal job. What to do during the process. But applying for jobs can be a stressful time. Especially if you are desperate to leave a job or if you are out of work and struggling with the dilemma of whether to just take anything or wait for the right job. So it’s easy to fall back on traits and behaviours that may not be helpful to the goal.

Here are my observations from having been a recruiter about what job applicants should not do.


It’s not the X Factor. Telling the employer how much you ‘want it’ will not get you picked. Of course, commitment and desire are important, but the employer should only be recruiting based on the person specification. Commitment might be one factor. How are you going to meet the others?


It’s never a good thing to demonstrate to a potential employer that you can’t be bothered. So never under any circumstances fail to follow the application instructions. If they ask for an application form then you can’t send a CV instead. I actually see people, even at management level writing ‘please see my CV’ in boxes on application forms. The fact that the required information is on your CV is of no relevance to them. If they have asked you to use the form then you must use it. They are entitled to disregard your application if you don’t.

Hounding the employer or recruiter

This applies to dealing with recruitment agencies in particular. If you have been for an interview and have not heard a result, you should politely enquire. But you can’t keep doing this every day. The recruiter will be just as frustrated as you if the employer has not responded and I guarantee they will already be trying their best to get a decision. There may be nothing else they can do for the time being.

Disclosing information unintentionally

In a panel interview, make sure you address all of the interviewers. Don’t focus solely on the most senior member because this will alienate the others. It can also signal some negative traits such as not respecting certain of your potential colleagues. A commitment to equality can be a legitimate criterion in the selection process.

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CV Writer and Interview Coach. Blogging about ways to improve your CV writing and job searching experience.