20 Ways to Kill Your Job Application!

Here are 20 Ways to Kill Your Job Application, we spend a great deal of time talking to recruiters, employers and human resource staff every week. I recently sent an email asking some of them what they would list as their top 3 peeves when it came to receiving resumes and short-listing candidates. You should have seen my inbox fill up with responses! Many were repeated, so I thought I would share a list of the top 20.

Straight from the mouths of the people reading your resumes:

  1. Rambling! I wish people would get to the point. I haven’t got time to read a novel.
  2. Resumes that are a straight list of duties. Tell us what you did differently, what you did well.
  3. I want people to tell me how they meet my need. If not, I move on to the next resume. Simple.
  4. People who dont meet the criteria for the role. If you don’t have the essential skills required, then don?t apply. Essential and desirable criteria are listed for a reason.
  5. Career Objectives. OMG, these are so annoying. I don’t want to know what you want. I want to know what you can do for me!
  6. Incorrect contact details. If an email bounces or the wrong phone number has been given, I won’t search for them, I’ll just move on to the next application.
  7. Poor grammar and spelling mistakes. It amazes me how many people apply for a role where written business communication is a major component of the role and send me a resume riddled with errors. These people usually claim they pay attention to detail as well!
  8. An application addressed to someone else. Its obvious they use the same application for every job and haven’t changed the salutation. These usually hit the shredder.
  9. Clutter. Personally, I cant stand looking at resumes that are jammed so tight and written using the smallest font to get as much information on the page as possible. They are too hard to read and very unappealing.
  10. A cover letter that repeats, verbatim, what is in the resume. Why bother? You’ve wasted my time and yours.
  11. Long resumes. Resumes longer than 3 pages lose me.
  12. When you call a candidate about a job application and they say something along the lines of Sorry, what job is this about again? Keep track of your applications.
  13. Resumes without dates for each position. My first thought is,What are you trying to hide?
  14. I’m sick of reading that everyone is a team player, has attention to detail and can see the big picture. Really? Prove it.
  15. When I ask about salary expectations and get, What is this role offering? question in return. You should have an expectation and be prepared to discuss it.
  16. Candidates who can?t make the time for an interview. I spent close to 20mins on the phone the other day with a woman who couldn’t seem to lock in a time to meet. It interfered with soccer practice, music practice, a monthly girls movie night, and of course, her current role. If you’re serious about job hunting¬† make the time to be available for the interview.
  17. Template driven resumes. One day recently I saw 4 resumes, the exact same format, and in some sections, the exact same wording! Write it yourself or get a reputable writer to do it for you.
  18. Resumes that are not in chronological order. It is too hard to follow resumes that jump all over the place.
  19. Trying to figure out locations of positions. People who have worked internationally or nationally need to include this information, I am not an atlas!
  20. Gaps in employment that haven?t been explained. I know you will have a reason for it, but try telling me, I’m not a psychic.

So there you have it. 20 ways in which to kill your application and lose an opportunity. I hope by sharing these, you will be able to avoid some of these pitfalls in your job search.

This article is contributed by Michelle Lopez of One2One Resumes.

E: [email protected]

W: www.one2oneresumes.com.au

Michelle Lopez, Owner/Career Consultant


Jappreet Sethi


  1. I like this column and would like to interject. I agree there is no excuse for:
    #1 Rambling, get to the point.
    #4 Not meeeting criteria.
    #7 Poor grammar, spelling.
    #8 Incorrect client name
    #9 Clutter
    #10 underutilizing a cover letter.
    #12 not keeping track of applications.
    #13 not keeping track of dates.
    #16 not making time for interview.
    #17 Using template (reference only).
    #18 not keeping track of chronological order.
    #19 not listing locations.
    As far as duties, most jobs are mundane and repetitive. Few details stand out, but only then be noted.
    For meeting needs, most people only match their experience to the posted requirements.
    Career objectives are a funny subject because it’s one of the first few questions I’ve often heard. It should be kept short.
    In todays economy, contact details are rough because we do not stay in constant contact with former associates. We should make a concerted effort to ensure that they are alive, working and available.(I’m definitelyu guilty of that one).
    When you’ve worked for thirty years or so, it’s easy to have a too long resume. However, I use a short, concise version to gain attention then send the long one upon request.
    Detail oriented team players will always be around but should show how in each job duty description.
    Salary negotiations are always tough and both sides should disclose their window. When asked, tell the company what you’d like to earn. The company should also have the salary available.
    Now, a question on gaps in employment. Especially in the economy ups and downs we have experienced, we may not be proud of being unemployed, but should state the time frame along the chronological listing.

    Thank you for listening.

  2. Interesting and informative article and I can say a job application is the first impression of the employee to the employer so better to have it well written with no errors.

  3. Most of these items are simple and should be no brainers.
    All except the time gaps, how does one effectivley place in a resume something like went though a divorce and moved? Sick family members? I have a gap in which I was working privately for some older people and their situations were each sensitive, I will not place any of that on my resume. One I never even got her home contact information I worked for her helping her clean out her dead son’s home to sale and I could tell she just wanted the whole experience behind her. I can respect that.

  4. Excellent website you have here but I was wanting to know if you knew of any
    discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about in this article?

    I’d really love to be a part of community where I can get suggestions from other experienced individuals that share the same interest.

    If you have any suggestions, please let me
    know. Thanks a lot!


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