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Don’t make these mistakes when you apply for jobs online

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You’ve found a job you want to go for, and now it’s time to put in the actual application. Don’t let these easily avoidable application mistakes ruin your chances of landing the role...

Mistake: Your CV isn’t upload-ready

Most applications will ask for you to upload your CV. You can find general CV tips (including templates) here, but here are some crucial pointers for getting the right format:

  • Make it no more than two pages long
  • Use a clear font like Arial or Times New Roman
  • Stick to a font size of 10 or 12
  • Use black ink
  • Use bullet points to make it easy to skim read


Once you’re happy with your CV, save it as an editable PDF. Choosing that format over Word means that whatever device it’s opened on, your CV will look the same with no distortions or overlaps.

If you’re on a job board, you can save a copy of your CV in their system (although we recommend checking it first in case you need to tailor to the job). If you’re applying to a role that we’re advertising at HR GO, add your CV to our document library to access it when you click ‘CV upload’.

Mistake: You send a generic cover letter (and CV)

Newsflash: that generic cover letter you’ve used before doesn’t cut the mustard. A cover letter is a chance to sell your skills and abilities and go into a bit more detail about work experience that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for, so make sure you customise it for every job application.

Here’s some advice we give to our job candidates at HR GO: Read the job description to work out what your potential employer wants a new recruit to do. Then include an example from your work history of skills or achievements that hit the spot.

Depending on the role, you’ll probably need to make a few tweaks to your CV too.

Mistake: You forget to use keywords

More and more recruiters now use an applicant tracking system or specialist software to screen CVs and cover letters at the first stage.

So it’s worth assuming your application will have the same treatment - and that makes it more crucial than ever to include relevant keywords that you think they might be focusing on. What words and phrases are in the job description that you can weave in so they sound natural?

Mistake: You leave sections blank

Yes, it seems like obvious advice. But not filling in a required section on your form (those red asterisks next to the questions are a tell-tale sign) gives a bad impression. It shows that you haven’t paid close enough attention to the instructions. The same goes if you haven’t attached the documents you’re asked to.

Although these mistakes are easily avoidable they can have big consequences as they could be a reason to reject your application.

Mistake: Your email address is embarrassing

Your application could be strong in terms of experience and skills but still be jeopardised by a silly or inappropriate email address.

When a potential employer reviews your job application it suggests that you’re unprofessional and perhaps not ready for the responsibility of the job you’re going for.

In that case, it’s definitely time to upgrade to something a bit more sensible for your job hunt. You can still keep your old email - just stick to a clear and uncomplicated address for your future career.

Applying from your mobile phone?

Read our extra tips on job hunting from your mobile here

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