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The 3 Biggest Job Application Deal Breakers (According to Employers)

Dive In
  • Writer's pictureThe CareerBeacon Team

Finding a job can be challenging. It’s hard work. It’s made even more difficult if you commit one of the classic blunders that can make employers set your application aside and move on to the next one – without even considering your candidacy.

These are what surveys of hiring managers and business owners say are their biggest job application annoyances.

Here are the 3 biggest job application deal breakers

Not following instructions

Job postings usually contain the exact details of how the employer would like you to apply for their job. These are not merely suggestions. Failing to follow them will likely sink your chances of getting hired – or even being interviewed for the position. If the job ad says to include a code number in the subject line of your email or refer to it in your cover letter, be sure that you do.

If the job posting requests a Word document resume, don’t send a PDF or a link to an online profile. If the employer asks for samples of your work or specific pieces of information from you, provide them.

When a job ad asks for your resume and cover letter, send both. Not following the instructions can get you screened out before the hiring manager even looks at your application.

You can’t claim to be a motivated or detail-oriented candidate for the job if you seem to be unable even to follow instructions about how to apply for the role in the first place. It can make it appear as though you can’t pay attention to instructions or that if you can, you don’t care enough to—either way, you are not a great hire.

Not customizing your application

The title of your resume should match the title of the job you are applying to. If your resume has a different title from the job opening, it can look like you are applying for another job. So, please don’t make the hiring manager try to guess how your particular career title matches up with the position they are hiring for. Make it clear. If you’re applying for the Account Executive position, send in a resume with ‘Account Executive’ in the title.

Then make sure that all of your work experience and professional accomplishments are tailored to be specifically relevant to the job you are applying for. All of your work history, community or voluntary work can potentially be pertinent if you highlight how the skills you learned and used can benefit your potential new employer. You have to market your transferable skills to the target company’s business needs.

If your resume doesn’t seem to match up with the job opening, hiring managers won’t spend much time reviewing it. Employers scan resumes quickly and only put aside the most relevant applications for further review. Read the job description carefully, and make sure that your resume demonstrates how you’d be great at it in a glance – otherwise, you’ll be quickly passed over.

Not being honest

In a recent survey, the majority of (67 percent) of participating hiring managers and business owners of participating companies said that most candidates lie during the hiring process. They are most likely to lie about their past job titles and responsibilities, the exact dates of previous employment, their level of education or their actual qualifications.

The thing is, all of these falsehoods are easily uncovered in a basic background check. Most employers will confirm your previous employment – including your work tenure and your role – along with your education and credentials. If your resume has made it to the top of the pile, and you’ve managed to be interviewed for the job you’re after, it would be a shame to lose the opportunity at the last minute because it turns out you didn’t finish that degree you claimed to have, or you left your previous job six months earlier than your resumes lists. Dishonesty is a dead-end for your application. A hiring manager won’t want to add someone they can’t trust to their team. The potential relationship is soured from the outset.

Employers generally receive many more applications per job than they could interview, so it can be hard to stand out. Fortunately, the big three deal-breakers that can get you instantly rejected are easy to avoid. Follow the instructions on applying for the job, make your resume as relevant as possible to the role, and be honest about your work history and credentials.

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