Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and how to effectively communicate them on your job application materials and in the interview is key to being successful on the job market.
It's essential that you take advantage of any opportunity to showcase your best qualities and to make sure that you're memorable for all the right reasons. Nerves can (and do!) play their part in the interview process and there can always be room for improvement. However, more often than not it's the most preventable errors that cost you the job.
When it comes to finding a new role, first impressions matter. So, follow our guide to make sure you plan ahead and avoid making these common mistakes during the job hunting process…
Common mistakes we see on CVs:
Bad spelling and grammar
Far and away the most common mistakes we see on candidate CVs is a poor use of grammar or incorrect spelling. Your CV is a recruiter’s first impression of you and given that attention to detail is a valuable skill in any role, there should be no margin for error. According to research from New College of Humanities, ‘59% of recruiters will reject a candidate because of poor grammar or a spelling error.’
Make sure to proof read your CV before it’s sent to a potential employer. Use spell-checking software, print a copy to read through and ask a trusted friend or family member to give it a once over.
Not tailoring your CV to the specific requirements of a role
It is important to link your previous work experiences and responsibilities to the role you’re applying for in order to demonstrate that you’re the right fit for the position. If you can, use keywords and phrases from the job description because these will be picked up in searches if your CV is added to a CRM or database.
Not enough thought given to clear formatting
According to a 2020 survey (on behalf of CareerBuilder by The Harris Poll) ‘39 % of hiring managers said they spend less than a minute looking at a resume and 23 % spend less than 30 seconds’. This highlights the need to make sure key information is prominent on your CV and clear to see if your CV was to be skim read quickly.
Listing Irrelevant work experience
Listing your full work experience is only necessary if every role you’ve ever had is relevant in some way to the role that you’re applying for, so cut out anything that isn’t related to the career path you’ve chosen. Begin each item by stating the name of the place, location, dates, and job title (e.g. manager, volunteer) List experiences in reverse chronological order (most current experience first).
Our handy tips and tricks for CV writing:
- Use relevant keywords and include your current job title alongside your name
- Start with a summary of your skills and key accomplishments
- Be sure to include and quantify past achievements relevant to the role you’re applying for
- Emphasise results rather than responsibilities
- Avoid acronyms or organisation-related terminology
Looking for more advice to writing a good CV? Visit our blog. https://www.carrotrecruitment.co.uk/blog/8-top-tips-to-updating-your-pharma-cv
Common mistakes we see in job applications:
Off-putting social media presence
In the modern era, it is very common for employers to research you prior to interview, by delving into your social media profiles. They want to know more about the person they are hiring and they feel that Facebook and other social media sites are good sources to find out information beyond your CV. Prior to a job search, give your social media profiles a once over and consider removing anything objectionable. It may also be worth tightening the privacy settings so that your profiles can’t be seen without your permission.
Having unclear goals and expectations
Make sure you are clear on what you most want from your new role. Write a list of qualities you are seeking in a role, such as responsibilities, benefits, location etc. This will make your search more targeted and will help you decide what roles are the best for you to apply for.
Casting the net too wide
It can be tempting to apply for lots of jobs at once but this can put off potential employers when they see the same name cropping up across different applications. Be as selective as you can with your applications for the best results. This shows you’re taking your job search seriously and that you know what you want and what roles will work for your skillset.
If you have applied to multiple jobs, it can be difficult to keep track of all the details involved. The last thing you want to happen is to get invited to an interview when you’re unsure which role it is for! Make sure to take note of what roles you have applied for and with which companies. Also note the dates, names, any replies you have received, and any dates and details for any interviews. Be timely with any responses and take your time to respond to emails in a professional manner.
Inconsistencies in what you’re applying for and what you’re looking for
Being clear about what it is you’re looking for and what is most important to you in a new role is hugely beneficial for us to be able to find jobs that are suitable. If you tell us that salary is most important to you but then you want to apply for a role which is below your current wage, we struggle to qualify the best opportunities for you. A good understanding of what your perfect role looks like will enable us to bring quality opportunities to you that will tick all your boxes.
You are of course entitled to drop out of a job application process at any time if you decide it isn’t for you. However, it’s important to be transparent and to let your recruiter know that you no longer wish to be considered. Especially in smaller sectors, unprofessional conduct can come back and bite you and can effect your chances with other companies down the line.
Our handy tips and tricks when applying to roles:
- Take the time to vet your online presence
- Don’t over apply to roles within a short time period
- Take your time - rushed applications that are not personalised will be immediately obvious to employers and can give the impression that you don't care about getting the role
- Prioritise which roles are most suitable and spend time to tailor your application for these
- Sell yourself and what your skills will bring me to the role
- Keep all content concise and relevant
- Include a tailored cover letter
Common mistakes we see during job interviews:
Unenthusiastic body language
Body language can play a major part in communication so it’s about more than just words - be aware of what your body is telling your interviewer! Good, direct eye contact, a cheerful but considered manner and good posture will demonstrate your approachability and confidence.
According to a 2018 survey of 2000 hiring managers, ‘65% of interviewers said that candidates who failed to make eye contact didn’t get the role that they were applying for’. Also, nearly 40% of interviewers stated that the quality of a candidate’s voice and their overall confidence was a reason for not taking their candidacy further.
Criticising previous employers or colleagues
No matter the reason for you leaving your previous or current employment, always be diplomatic in your communications. You never know what personal or professional connections there might be, especially within small industries where networks can often cross. Instead of highlighting the mistakes of others, emphasise the positive steps you have taken to overcome them and how proactive you can be.
Failing to do research about the company
If you fail to research the company, your interviewer will see this lack of effort as a lack of enthusiasm which will have a very negative effect on your application. Hiring Managers are looking for people who are prepared and show that they are keen to work for them.
Twiin Employment and Training suggest that '47% of interviewers said that they wouldn’t offer the job to a candidate if they had little knowledge of the company'.
Not asking the interviewer any questions
Failing to ask any questions suggests to the interviewer that you’re unprepared or uninterested in the role. Having some questions to ask shows that you’re invested in the opportunity and have done your research about the company and the role.
Give some real thought to what you decide to wear for your interview and ensure it makes a positive impression on the interviewer. This goes for both virtual interviews and physical ones – we have seen everything from Spiderman pyjama bottoms to football shirts and it’s not a good look!
If you’re not sure what’s appropriate for that role, don’t be afraid to ask and, if in doubt, opt for something more formal than casual.
Follow these tips and tricks to ace your job interviews:
- Who will you be meeting? Find them on Linkedin and connect with them if you feel comfortable doing so
- Where will you be meeting? Consider how best to get there. Is it worth doing a practice run to lessen pressure on the day?
- If a task has been set, consider having a backup version on a USB or a printed version in case technical problems arise!
- Practice presentation technique – pace, eye contact, right level of detail, timings etc
- Run through example competency-based questions that may be asked (Lots of guidance on internet)
- Familiarise yourself with the job description again – keep in mind pertinent skills, traits and experience required
- Have some positive questions ready to ask the interviewers
- Research the company and their plans/values where you can
- Accept a drink if offered
Looking for more job interview advice? Visit this blog. https://www.carrotrecruitment.co.uk/interview-skills
If you’d like to speak to one of our consultants about applying to a particular role or sector within Pharma and Life Sciences, get in touch and we can discuss this with you in more detail. You can check out all the current vacancies we have available via our pharma jobs page.