Why Graduate Job Applications Fail

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Why Graduate Job Applications Fail

Post by Kazrem » Sun Feb 04, 2018 9:39 am

“If only I knew my current employer was looking to employ only 12 candidates as managers-in-training, I would not have continued the selection process”. I heard this statement (paraphrased) from an innovation professional in one of Nigeria’s leading multinational firms.

On graduation some years ago, she had applied for a job in response to an
advert and her serial number for the selection test indicated that at least 36,000 persons were being considered for the job. The Lagos test venue was at Trade Fair Centre and this candidate came all the way from Abeokuta. At a point, she wondered to herself, “Are they taking more than 500 of this whole crowd?”

She passed the test, and subsequently faced not less than 5 rounds of interviews with both Nigerians and foreigners on the panel. She eventually got the job as one of only 12 successful candidates. Today, she still works with that same organization.

The story above provides a summary of an average job seeker’s experience and chances with large company recruitment exercises. And really, for an average candidate, the chances are really, really slim. Now to the point of today’s piece, why do job applications fail?

The number 1 reason I have seen, in 7 years of active involvement in merit-based, equal opportunity recruitment of entry-level, and sometimes experienced hires is what I will call poor appearance: what your CV says about you. Unless you have a big brother, sister, uncle, or some other contacts who has guaranteed you a job, come whatever, then it really matters how your CV looks and what it says it implies about you.

To be frank, well over half of CVs I have seen are poorly written ‘from the first blast of the whistle. They just won’t go far even in a pack of 20 not to mention when a recruiter has 500, 2000 or even more to consider. I will touch on a few point here.

One, since most CVs are sent out electronically (i.e. via email), then we should pay some more attention here. The file that is your CV must be clearly labeled with your full name and any professional qualification you may have but please put only one set of letters (M.Sc is academic and not appropriate unless you’re seeking a role in academia). A professional designation simply indicates to a recruiter your line of competence. So we expect to see a word or pdf file titled something like John Smith, ACA - CV (or simply John Smith- CV).

I have received CVs with file names like the following: my CV copy 1, Kola’s CV, Michael 1, Adeola- June 2017 etc.

In addition, the email with which a CV is sent out matters. It must have a subject heading and must contain a message to the recipient with a proper salutation, opening, body, and closing. It’s a mini-cover letter, your first introduction to a prospective employer. Also, short had expressions, abbreviation of sentences into three four letters (IMO, LTM, etc) and writing proper nouns starting in small letters are a put-off for most employers. It does not matter whether you’re writing or typing from your phone (this is also being written from a phone).

Again, I have received via emails with no subject heading, and no email message. Such a candidate is out of the race without fail. Why? Someone may ask. The answer is such a candidate has apparently not bothered to educate himself or herself on how to make a proper job application. Why should we then assume he or she has educated himself or herself about other aspects which would surely become important on the job.

Let’s remember: these are no longer the days when people help you “look for a job”. Jobs are not missing. These are times when the applicant’s own preparation (beyond certificates and grades) is a primary factor for gainful, sustainable employability.

The next piece will address the important question of “How to write a good CV”, a fairly long subject on its own while the concluding part of this series will address the question of how to prepare for your first job.

David Adeoye
I am an Amazon #1 Bestselling author of Write To Stardom (How To Write Irresistible Articles That Keep Readers Glued To You From A-Z)

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