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Online job search: 7 common mistakes by job-seekers


DESPITE a barrage of online applications from job-seekers through job portals, recruiters are often left with very few 'worthwhile' applications. Most candidates commit seven cardinal sins and lose out on a good opportunity.

Sin 1: Application is incomplete
Instead of keeping recruiters guessing, as is the case often, do your bit and provide all relevant details. Time-crunched recruiters who are swamped by hundreds of  résumés every day, usually end up spending time on applications that are complete, and which do not need them to ferret out information.

When creating a profile, register yourself by filling in your details on the job board, then upload your résumé, and finally, write a cover letter. On the job board and in the résumé, it is best to give all the information sought - from educational qualifications and particulars about current and previous organisations to relevant personal details. "The biggest blunder one can commit is to send the application without contact phone numbers. We have no way of getting in touch with and are compelled to reject the candidate even if they make the cut," says Parama Biswas, HR Generalist, BOC India.   

While filling in particulars, candidates often omit details regarding salary or location assuming that those can be discussed at a later stage - during a telephone or face-to-face interview. This can leave matters to chance and your fate will depend on how the recruiter takes it. While many are willing to oversee it and arrange an interview, some recruiting agencies find this annoying as salary is one of the chief deciding factors. Hence, even if the application is not rejected immediately, it may not be the first preference. As Cindrella Vincent, HR Executive, Praxis Interactive Technologies Ltd., points out, "All recruiters have a budget for each position and not knowing whether an application makes the mark salary-wise, makes it all the more difficult. If someone is already drawing more than the allocated salary, then we will obviously not get in touch with him or her, thereby saving the candidate’s and our time."

Sin 2: Not following instructions
For instance, if a recruiter specifies that phone calls are not welcome, it is best to adhere to it. It not only ensures that the résumé reaches the right person at the right time with the right information, but also underlines your willingness to take instructions.

Sin 3: Getting generic
Job portals give you the option of applying in the quickest manner to all jobs by clicking just once on "Apply" (may be known by a different name across portals). This practice, however, is best avoided. Instead, use the preview option and edit it to suit the position on offer. "It is very important to customise the job application. Many job searchers often send group e-mails and generic résumés to recruiters. This is the worst mistake one can make, and cuts a very shabby picture and shows the applicant's desperation and lackadaisical attitude. He or she will, in all probability, never be the first preference," shares Sebastian Rodriguez, Manager Resourcing, Datamatics Global Services Limited.

A checklist
   • Follow all instructions 

   • Fill in all the required information

   • Do a spelling and grammar check

   • Give contact details

   •  Add a covering letter with he subject
      line mentioning the profile

   • Attach your résumé
Features of a good résumé

    • Do not just narrate your duties  and responsibilities in the previous   organisation/s, highlight your  achievements

   • Emphasise fitment and value addition to the profile advertised

   • Pay attention to detail and format it in such a manner that you draw attention to what is relevant for that particular profile

   • Give all the required information
      without running into countless pages 

   • Ideally give as much information as necessary to evoke interest and elicit an interview call 

Though the details you fill in while registering on a job portal and the résumé you upload there will be a broad-based one, ensure you customise your application whenever you apply for a particular position. Go through the job description, figure out the job requirements, and accordingly highlight why you are best suited for the profile in terms of your experience and skill set in the cover letter and/or the comments section.

The cardinal rule is to address your application to the right person, mentioning the profile you are interested in and the Reference ID/ Job Code. Cindrella Vincent advises, "Even if a candidate thinks he or she fits into more than one of the advertised roles, the position must be specified. It will show your focus and area of interest as well as how well you understand the job specifications. For example, profiles of writers and editors are often quite similar, so if the candidate leaves it blank, the candidate may not get what he/she prefers."

Sometimes, placement agencies place such advertisements and they do not disclose the name of the organisation. In such cases it is advisable to get in touch with the recruiting firm for information on the position and the organisation before sending your application. 

Sin 4: Applying in a hurry
Organisations hire on the basis of what the candidate brings to the table and not on a first-come-first serve basis. So never rush! Double check your application - details on the job board, résumé and cover letter before sending them. Applications and cover letters filled with typos, accompanied with an unformatted résumés will create a negative impression. "The icing on the cake is of course forgetting to attach the résumé altogether," says Parama. Such bloopers give the impression that they are disinterested and casual.

Sin 5: Getting gimmicky
In a bid to attract a recruiter’s attention, many candidates resort to flashy formatting including fancy footers, flamboyant language or even a personal pleas in the comments section. Recruiters do not spend more than a few seconds perusing a CV and only if it evokes their interest are they likely to go through it in details. So ensure smart formatting and the correct choice of words.

Sin 6: Not following up
Online applications also need follow-ups. For instance, if you do not hear from the recruiter within seven to 10 days, it is best to follow up on your application. However, Sebastian Rodriguez cautions, "Don’t keep badgering recruiters by calling or mailing every other day. Be sharp enough to gauge when you have not made the cut and the recruiters are too courteous to say it directly."

The key is to be polite and show interest in the position while enquiring about your application. In case you do not get any response that acknowledges the receipt of your application, you can try other means of forwarding your application - through another job portal or by directly contacting the appropriate person in the placement consultancy or the organisation.

Sin 7: Not blocking current employer
It is best to keep your job hunt under wraps until you resign.

Firstly, your manager will be displeased if he or she gets to hear of it from any other source. Also, your organisation will assume that you are in exit mode and may leave you out from business meetings and office events. Hence, staying on in that organisation, till a good offer comes up, can become very difficult and may even compel you to take up the first offer that comes your way, even if it is not the kind you wanwt. Also, remember that searching for a job from your workplace is a complete no-no. Most offices, these days, have firewalls which not only prevent access to such sites but also log access requests to those sites and report them to the HR department or the reporting manager.  

The situation will grow worse if your job search does not yield immediate and expected results - you will be hounded by smug questions about the status of your job search and whether it has yielded any results, which can be extremely humiliating. So, be discrete by blocking  your current organisation from viewing your profile online till you get a concrete offer and are in a position to put in your papers.

Good luck!

 
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