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5 Common Errors of First Time Applicants.

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Remember your first time?  Fresh out of school, waiting for your dream job  to jump in your lap, or something close;  you probably played your life 5 years into the future and enjoyed every bit of that thought each time.

But sooner than you had anticipated, you found yourself roaming the job market like every other graduate, you perhaps also learned to speak a new language called,  “There are no jobs” .

But we’ve drummed this truth countless times over.

Getting a job requires patience, that’s why it’s called a job search or job hunt.

It’s possible that you don’t meet the requirements for all the jobs out there or you are repeating some  blunders you made in your first application, some you still make despite the hundreds of applications you’ve forwarded since you set out on your job hunt. Some of these errors are;

–       Polishing  the résumé: An error for two reasons; first the job applicant uses high-sounding words, in a bid to impress (or overwhelm) any recruiter who reads through the résumé. But this is like shooting yourself in the foot (or head) because recruiters have seen lots of résumés that are filled with buzzwords and clichés but lack the requisite experience. Polishing your résumé with just words and no qualifications is like doing your personal branding wrongly,  lofty words don’t make you stand out especially if you are a 20-something-year-old, recruiters know well enough not to get carried away by those words; it’s all a matter of how well you qualify (or how much potentials you’ve got).

Advice: slow your roll, from a glance at your résumé, recruiters can tell whether you are fresh out with no experience or you’ve really got something to offer. A well written cover letter can do the trick. Get recruiters on your side by explaining with brevity, the things you can do, not necessarily trying to daze them with past experiences that don’t add up. Feel free to include anything you think gives you a strong point, anything that proves you as the candidate they’ve been looking for. You may get only internship opportunities instead of full-time jobs, but it’s a good way to start your career too.


–          Silly email address: it’s no crime to be sexy, cute, “hawt” and all that but killerfire@domain.com, 2sexyrealdirty@domain.com.. etc etc. is amateurish. Enough said.  Let’s just say your application had a cutesy email address because you failed to properly proofread your résumé. Some recruiters may not find it a big deal but that’s not a risk you want to take.

Advice: cutesy email addresses don’t say anything professionally appealing about you; opening an account with any domain is still free, last I checked. Get serious about your job search, have an official email address.


–          Waiting until you need a job: this is another killer, most first time applicants wait until they are out of school or when they are ready to work, and then they start thinking of a work experience that fits the kinds of jobs they want. Research has it that about 77% of Nigerians are unemployable; in other words, even if there were jobs, most candidates don’t qualify. Period.

Advice: experience matters, most employers want to give out responsibilities to people who are capable of taking ownership of their jobs. Build your career slowly by starting out in small places, handle this responsibility and that responsibility then tailor your experience to match the requirements for your next job. Your dream job may not come presto, it’s not magic, but you have to be prepared for it when it does.

–          Writing cover letters that repeat the résumé. I got this from Forbes because I find this true, many first time applicants are yet to catch a whiff of what differentiates a cover letter from a résumé; this happens mostly due to poor research, or mere negligence. A cover letter and a résumé serve different purposes. With your cover letter, you create a more personal (but professional) feel for the recruiter, at the very least he knows it’s from a human; you give bullet points on why the recruiter should hire you. A résumé lacks that personal appeal, it just lays all the cards on the table.

Advice: read this on how to write a cover letter and this on how not to write a cover letter.

–          Oh Please. Not your parents:  it’s quite obvious, virtually all the blunders cited are made on the applicant’s résumé and this is not an exception. Many first time applicants put the names of their parents, siblings or close relatives as their references. These people can’t be objective in their statements about you. Duh! They all want you to get a job too and recruiters know this.

Advice: Get proper references; former team leader, direct supervisor during your internship or simply write “available on request” and keep looking for an appropriate reference.

These are not all the errors; some others are the overuse of clichés, poor dressing to the interview, attending interviews late, and the list goes on.   The truth is, there are jobs, you just need to up your game and look in the right places.


Do you know more errors first time applicants make? Please share it in the comments section below.

Nathan Jeffery
Notification Bell