Turn unsuccessful job applications into wins

Turn unsuccessful job applications into wins

Unsuccessful job applications can make it hard to stay positive while job searching. What are some of the common reasons for not getting a role, and how can you improve your chances of success?

Poor applications

Many job seekers do not do themselves justice in the way that they present themselves in a cover letter, resume or on an application form. Usually it is on the basis of your initial written application that an employer will decide whether or not to interview. You have only one chance to make a good first impression.

If your application is littered with mistakes, you haven’t been careful enough to proofread thoroughly. An employer or recruiter will judge you as being careless and reject your application.

Failing to sell yourself

Your cover letter, resume and application form are your ‘sales brochure’ and the product you are selling is you. You – the salesperson – need to have confidence in your product. You need to show you meet the needs of the employer, and that requires an assessment of both yourself and the job.

Without this you will find it difficult to identify which jobs are suitable for you. If you can’t discriminate between jobs, you risk applying for so many jobs that the whole process becomes unmanageable.

It requires a thorough investigation of your skills and experience, and identifying what you have achieved in your professional career in quantifiable terms – not just a rehash of your work history. If you have access to an outplacement program or have a career coach, work with them to build an attention-grabbing resume.

Applying for too many jobs

Resist the temptation to apply for every possible job for which you may only be superficially qualified. Employers recognise ill-thought out or multiple applications.

Of course, there is nothing to stop you applying for a range of roles, especially if you are considering a career change. This will however involve using different versions of your resume, with every application targeted to the job applied for.

A bad reference

A bad reference can kill your employment chances stone dead. Many employers and recruiters will call them before interview stage if you have included a contact on your resume.

Putting references are ‘available on request’ will merely delay the inevitable if your references have been poorly selected. A more sensible approach is to identify and cultivate references who will be positive about you.

Perhaps this job just wasn’t meant for you

Good people miss out on opportunities all the time. Maybe you did possess all the right skills, experience and knowledge required for the role. But there were probably other applicants with the same. What gave them an advantage was specific product knowledge; a particular skill; or they were referred by someone.

For every role there is but one successful candidate.

Unsuccessful job applications aren’t failures

Although there may be many reasons why you may have missed out, none are worth beating yourself up over. Being told ‘no’ doesn’t necessarily mean you failed: it just means someone else had an edge on this occasion.

It can be hard to stay positive while job searching, but even a run of unsuccessful job applications doesn’t mean you won’t strike gold next time.