I love working with people fresh out of college since they are full of enthusiasm, charged up to explore new things and not afraid of getting their hands dirty with technologies they haven’t even heard of. It’s hard for experienced professionals to beat the energy levels freshers come loaded with and that energy helps compensate for their lack of work experience. I would almost always prefer to hire a fresher instead of an experienced professional unless the job specifically demands someone with expertise and significant experience in given domain or technology.
Over a span of last three years, I have interviewed over 200 candidates (mostly freshers) with engineering background for different positions in our company. For shortlisting those 200 odd candidates, we had to screen thousands of resumes one by one. On average, for shortlisting one candidate, we screen close to 30+ resumes.
(Un)fortunately, it’s easy discarding many of the job applications without even having to look at the resume. Do you know why? That is because of the following mistakes made by applicants (mostly by freshers).
- While applying via email, they don’t write subject or message body. Most of the candidates just attach the resume and click “send” without bothering to write the subject line or addressing the concerned person/department. Imagine a blank email with just an attachment. Typically, those involved in hiring are also involved in many other activities and they simply can’t afford to go through all such job applications and open each and every resume. We have received such job applications from even IIT and NIT students which is very disappointing.
- Applying to multiple job positions at once via email and putting all the specified job application email addresses in bcc, cc and sometimes in to field. Many a times we found job applications where all 3 fields (to, cc and bcc) had different emails specified. May be those candidate prioritized to, cc and bcc fields, to being the most preferred jobs and bcc being the least preferred jobs. Unfortunately, a few times our email was in bcc field. Not customizing your job application as per the specific job is one of the biggest mistake you’ll ever make.
- No cover letter in the job application. In my point of view, this one is not a very critical problem however it really helps those screening the profiles and generally ensures that at least your resume gets reviewed. We almost always review the resume of those candidates who have included a cover letter.
- Various combination of points mentioned above, e.g. no subject, no message body (point 1) and applying to many jobs (point 2) at once.
In case some of you are wondering what’s wrong with the points mentioned above. For example, why you shouldn’t just forward the resume without addressing anyone? After all, the person receiving the job application would know it’s a job application so why take the pain of addressing them. Or why bother sending individual emails for each job when all email services allow you to send multiple emails at once?
Well, the impact of the points mentioned above is significant so don’t take them lightly. Sometimes having a great academic record may not help you find a job if you are making any/all of the mistakes mentioned above since your resume may not even get reviewed at all. Remember that your job application is your first chance to make an impact and if you miss it, you won’t get any second chance.
Let me try to explain what’s wrong with the points mentioned above.
If you are not adding a subject line and/or addressing the concerned person/department then it shows that you are probably not serious enough about the job as you don’t even have time to write those details. If you are applying for a job via email, even before your resume is screened, your email is screened. And if the email is blank then it’s most unlikely that the person screening the application would even bother about checking your resume.
For some jobs, it may be required to provide the subject line in a specific format, e.g. job title – location – experience. In case, it’s not specified then you can use this format for subject line while applying for jobs : Job Title – Your Name – Location or just Job Title – Your Name
If you don’t know the name of the concerned person, you can address them as,
- Dear Hiring Manager or Dear HR Manager
- To whom it may concern
- Dear Sir/Madam
Use the email message body to specify the job position you are applying for and why you are a suitable candidate for this position. You can also include details of your college projects or any assignments you feel are worth mentioning. Also, include your full name, contact number, profile URL of LinkedIn (StackOverflow & Github profile URL if applying for a programming position).
If you are applying for multiple job positions at once without customizing it for the job position you are applying for then it’s considered rude as you are not giving importance to individual hiring managers and to the job position itself. I simply trash all such job applications directly and I guess most other hiring managers do the same. It’s a risk for companies since some profiles might be really good however a minimum courtesy is expected from the job applicants.
Even if you want to apply for 100 jobs, I suggest the following.
- Create an email template
- Customize the template for each job requirements
- Send the job application individually to each job
It will take more time than drafting a common email and sending the application to all at once however the approach mentioned above will significantly improve the chances of your profile getting shortlisted, which is what you want when you are looking for a job.
In short, NEVER ever apply for multiple job positions at once in a single email.
While applying for a job via email, your email’s body should be used as a cover letter. Cover letter should be relevant to the job you are applying for and it should highlight your skills and experience (if any) positioning you as a suitable candidate for the position.
A nicely drafted cover letter can significantly boost your chances of receiving an interview call. Remember, what differentiates one fresher candidate from another is how well one showcases his/her skills & capabilities. Cover letter is your first chance of making the right impression and you should use this opportunity smartly. Here is a good article on how to write effective targeted cover letters – http://jobsearch.about.com/od/coverletters/a/cuttingedge.htm
If you follow the advice mentioned in points 1 to 3 above then you don’t have to worry about this one :).
It’s really saddening that a large number of good resumes are not even reviewed (read ignored) by hiring managers because of some basic mistakes made the by candidates while applying for a job. It’s not only a loss for the candidate but is not good for companies as well since they might lose some very good candidates because this.
You need to understand that it can be really frustrating going over hundreds of job applications and if the person screening the resumes would get any opportunity to skip a profile, (s)he most likely will, to save the time. You are giving them an opportunity to skip reviewing your profile if you are making any of these mistakes.
If you are already doing everything right then great but if you are making any of these mistakes mentioned in this open letter then I hope you won’t make such mistakes in future.
I wish you all a great future full of opportunities to learn and grow.Yours sincerely, Shishir Singh (Twitter, LinkedIn)
P.S. – At the time of writing this post, we have a couple of job openings. If you feel you are a good match for any of the positions then you’re welcome to apply. I hope you won’t make any of those mistakes mentioned in this open letter while applying 🙂