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The 7 most common job application mistakes to avoid

Finding your dream job after a lengthy search is a fantastic feeling. But whether you're looking for digital or design agency jobs in Leeds, it's easy to stumble over one of the first hurdles; the application process.

That's why we've put together this guide to the common mistakes we make when applying for jobs. All of these are easy to avoid when you know what to look for. With this knowledge, you'll be able to prevent a great application being spoiled by something totally avoidable. We've also highlighted mistakes unique to graphic design and digital marketing applicants.

Before we get into the article proper, it goes without saying: the worst mistake (and the most common) you can make is lying on your CV. Make sure that you only mention things you can back up later on.

1. Skipping or missing the main points of the job specification

Whatever job you're going for, it's essential you address the essential skills discussed in the job spec. You can do this by providing clear examples of what you can do, and how this lines up with the skills that the job needs.

A lot of people think that an overview of their skills is all they need. However, it's really worth being specific with your key skills. Don't be afraid of providing clear links between your skills and your examples; it might seem like overkill, but it's a level of detail readers will appreciate.

Everything else you discuss might be bang on, but if you can't show you've nailed the key skills, you may miss out on the role altogether.

2. Sending the same CV over and over and over

It's tempting to see a business or recruiter as a cliff face—something you can wear down with enough time. In reality it doesn't work like this. Sending the same CV multiple times might seem like a sure-fire strategy, but in practice it doesn't get you anywhere. If anything, it sours your chances of getting the job you're after.

The key to CV success is tailoring each one to a job spec. Think about how it looks, and make sure it says exactly what you need it to. Put yourself in the recruiter's shoes; what are they looking for, and what's the best way for you to give it to them?

Don't be afraid of trying different CV templates and formats. Linear CVs were popular in the past, but nowadays they're just one of many options to choose from. If the information appears clearly, it's worth a try!

3. Forgetting to sell yourself

The key to a good CV—heck, a good professional—is communication skills. You might be the perfect candidate for a job, but if your CV doesn't convey this, that won't count for much. That's why you must remember to sell your skills as clearly as possible.

Make sure you've got clear examples of your accomplishments, and that these accomplishments clearly line up with the skills the job description asks for. Some people might be worried about sounding boastful, but employers aren't really worried about arrogance. They're looking for someone who can clearly and concisely explain what they're capable of.

4. Spelling and grammatical mistakes

Everyone's guilty of the odd typo here and there. But CVs are one area where you really, really don't want them. A CV is proof of the different skills you have under your belt; attention to detail should always be on that list.

We've all had a giggle at worst typo lists, but who wants to end up on one themselves? Double-check your CV, and try to get someone else to look over it as well. A fresh pair of eyes is handy for finding something you overlooked.

5. Confusing the reader

A wide vocabulary is never a bad thing; sometimes you need complex words to make precise points. However, it can be tempting to use big, unusual words as a way of showing off how capable you are. In most professional contexts simpler words are the best approach; a mark of true intelligence is conveying complicated ideas with simple language.

Of course, you don't want to dumb it down all the way either; try to strike a balance between simplicity and complexity throughout your CV. Make sure readers can quickly identify the skills they're searching for. That's much more valuable than excessive verbosity.

6. Unpleasant font choices

As a candidate, you obviously want your CV to stand out from the crowd. But picking an unusual font isn't the way to do so. It only serves to distract from the information you have in the CV; if you pick a particularly infamous font, like Papyrus or Comic Sans, even the world's best CV will suffer.

Don't be afraid to stick to something simple and professional-looking. This allows the true merits of the CV—your skills and experience—to shine through.

7. All work and no play

A CV is the first impression a recruiter has of you, but it's important to remember they aren't hiring a bundle of skillsets. They're hiring a person, and a person who can only talk shop isn't always an attractive prospect.

Try throwing a few personal interests and non-work activities into the mix. If you do things like volunteer work, and feel you've picked up useful skills in the process, don't be afraid to talk about that in a bit more detail. However, don't feel obligated to make these connections. Doing something because you enjoy it really can be reason enough.

Other Mistakes

While we've discussed more general application mistakes, applications for graphic design and digital marketing jobs have unique problems. We've highlighted them below for your convenience.

Graphic Design Job Application Mistake #1

"Forgetting to highlight the industries you’ve worked in (product packaging, social media images or stories, homeware brands) and relating these to the role."

This means that design agencies don't just want to see what you can do. They also want to know if your experience aligns with what you'll be doing. For instance, if you're being asked for evidence of retail projects, make sure you provide retail examples.

Digital Marketing Job Application Mistake #1

"Forgetting to provide either quantitative or qualitative examples of how your work impacted a project positively."

Think of a digital marketing strategy as several links in a chain. To achieve tangible results, you need many different things to work in tandem with each other. Good copywriting, regular website updates, an engaging social presence and eye-catching imagery are all vital ingredients for business success.

The problem for digital marketers is that they can forget how to justify what they did to external audiences. If they spend all their time talking to people who understand the value of their work, they might neglect to justify this in a job search later on.

You can counter this instinct by providing useful information like concrete statistics—or specific feedback from clients—in your application. Communicating the benefits of what you can do is how you help to give it value in the first place.

Make the right moves

While there are several different mistakes you can easily make during a job application, you can avoid a lot of them by paying close attention to your work. It also helps to consider the perspective of whoever will read your application in the future. We strongly recommend having someone else read over your work before you send it out. A fresh perspective might be just what you need to add that last layer of polish.

At Gloss, we're committed to supporting our candidates for design agency jobs in Leeds with a variety of useful content. If you're working in graphic design, prepare for your next interview by reading about the top 3 graphic design interview task mistakes. We'll help you fire on all cylinders by helping you know what to expect—and avoid—in this crucial part of the job hunt.

If you're looking for help with your portfolio instead, check out our article on making a top-drawer portfolio. It highlights several of the ways you can improve your portfolio, such as thinking about the order of your work, putting it into context and many more.

We also have a range of articles suitable for digital marketers. Learn more about what a digital marketing manager does; the job comes with many responsibilities, and offers more flexibility than you might expect.

You can also learn about the impact of 360° content on your job. This content type has seen use across several different channels including social media and marketing campaigns. It's worth keeping an eye on if you want to stay on the cutting edge of your sector.

When you think you're ready, don't be afraid to send us your CV. We care about all of our candidates, and we're committed to finding you the best possible design agency jobs in Leeds. Our team also have an in-depth understanding of the recruitment scene for Leeds and the surrounding area; we know its quirks, and we know how to navigate its landscape to find you the best jobs.

Submit your CV by visiting our Contact Us page. You can also give us a call by ringing on 0870 3219788.

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