While South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and jobs are hard to come by, recruitment experts say graduates, matriculants and other job seekers aren’t getting that all important interview shortlisting call because they’re making silly mistakes that ultimately sabotage their job prospects.


  1. An unprofessional CV

Your CV is a personal testimony to your qualifications, skill sets and it’s the first glimpse of insight potential employers gain about you. How it is presented says a lot about who you are, head of marketing at Gumtree, Claire Cobbledick says. This, she adds, is why it’s imperative to keep it clean and “use verbal skills to impress”.

Keep your CV concise and to the point and avoid including unnecessary information like the names of your spouse, children and their ages.

“Before you add any detail to your resume, make sure it passes the ‘job performance test’ and that is: Can you confidently say that this information is critical in helping your perspective employer evaluate your job performance?” advises former corporate HR manager and Arielle Careers founder Irene McConnell.

If you have an unprofessional sounding personal email address, change it to your full name. “The most professional option is to register a domain name and create a first name email address on it. An email address like sally@sallythompson.com strengthens your personal brand and hints to a potential employer that small details are important to you,” McConnell says.


  1. Failing to tailor your cover letter

A cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself by elaborating on your skill sets and showing how they make you the prime candidate for the job. It’s also an opportunity to highlight key attributes from your CV and tell the employer how your previous work experiences have prepared you for the responsibilities of the job at hand.

“You shouldn’t send the same cover letter to every employer. Take the extra time to read the job description carefully and address how your experience meets the employer’s needs,” says attorney and careers blogger Kristin Gallagher.

Try where you can to find out the name of the HR manager or person in charge of receiving applications and address the cover letter to them directly.


  1. Social media etiquette

“These days, many employers will do a quick Google search of candidates. If your Facebook page pops up and your profile picture is one of you doing rounds and rounds of tequila shots at your birthday party, some employers may take offense at that,” says Cobbledick.

“Rants on Twitter or public forums can be similarly off-putting. Put your best foot forward from the start.”


  1. An incomplete LinkedIn profile

A lot of HR managers us LinkedIn as a recruitment and verification tool so having an up-to-date, accurate, professional and completed profile is important.

Make sure you add a professional looking head and shoulder profile picture.

Pictures of you on the beach, wearing a tank top or holding a cocktail are big no-no’s.


  1. Not sending the requested information

There are two rationales behind recruiters asking for specific information or documentation – they either need the info or they do it to identify and disqualify applicants who can’t follow instruction, says Gallagher.

“Hiring managers who receive a large number of applications sometimes test how well applicants pay attention to detail by making certain requests such as instructing applicants to use a specific subject line in their emails. Same goes for document type,” she says.

“Some companies will only accept PDFs; others want Word documents. If you send your documents in the wrong format, chances are the hiring manager will delete your application instead of taking the time to email you and ask you to follow instructions.”


  1. Applying without cause (under-qualified)

There’s nothing HR managers find more annoying than people who waste their time, so the rule is simple: Don’t apply for a job that you lack qualifications for. Only apply for jobs you’re capable of performing.

Contrary to popular belief, an article on theundercoverrecruiter.com says applying for a job you know you’re not qualified for doesn’t necessarily demonstrate your character.

“Your resume will indeed wind up on someone’s desk, but they won’t be impressed by your moxie. They won’t think ‘here’s a real go-getter, let’s keep him in mind for other positions.’ They’ll just toss your resume. If they remember you at all, their opinion will be negative,” the article states.

Sources: Bizcommunity, theundercoverrecruiter.com, Brazen Careerist, Arielle Careers