I used to be amazed by the fact that selection rate at big MNCs is 2–3% of the applications received and at some places with robust recruitment processes, it is less than 1%. That is to say, for every hundred people who apply for a position, only one might be hired.
But my recruitment experience in the past year and half taught me that 85–90% of the applications can be rejected in less than 5 seconds. The remaining 10–15% take about 1 minute each to be screened, leaving me with the final 5 percent of the applications. These are the five percent that go through the next steps of the recruitment process and demand some time from the recruitment team. It is very rare to have an experience where I have more people that I really really want to hire than the number of openings we have. This tells us that having a 2–3% selection rate is not a difficult feat.
So, what are the things that get an application rejected in less than 5 seconds??
Spelling and Basic Grammatical Errors: Spelling and basic grammatical errors in the age of auto-correct is a strict NO! Sometimes, I receive mails without a single capital letter or full stop. More than language proficiency, for me, it shows how serious you are about this job or your career and how diligently you do your work. The least you can do is ask a friend to proofread your mail and resume for you, if you are really serious about the application.
Bad Email Subjects: Very often I find redundant subject lines like ‘Resume’, ‘CV’, ‘Job Opening’ and subject lines with spelling mistakes. What would a recruiter find in his/her mail if not resumes? The purpose of the subject line is to let the reader know what exactly to expect in the mail. If you cannot come up with a unique subject line, best stick to ‘Application for the position of XYZ’. This will help the recruiter sort applications by position and look at them together.
Irrelevant Content in the Cover Letter: The purpose of the cover letter is to talk about things that cannot be conveyed through your resume. Some companies specify what they want you to tell them in a cover letter. For companies that don’t, rather than reiterating things in your resume like your experience, projects or educational qualifications, write about
- Why you want to work with the company
- How you think you can add value and why they should choose you over the others
- Any other aspects about you that your resume is not communicating
Sometimes, I receive applications that just have a resume attached and do not even specify which role they are applying for. They definitely end up in trash.
Funky Email IDs: ‘email@example.com’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ are the likes of email ids from which I received applications. Recruiters definitely look for some amount of professionalism and seriousness in the candidates. It is best if the email id you use for professional purposes has your name. For example: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org etc.
Badly Formatted Resumes: Recruiters spend definitely much less than 10 seconds (research says 6 seconds) on each resume before they judge if they want to have a detailed look at it. Badly formatted resumes make it very difficult for the recruiter to consume important aspects of your profile which obviously leads to throwing you out the game. Make sure your resume is decently formatted with different segments neatly demarcated and important aspects duly highlighted.
Copied Career Objectives: Recruiters read hundreds of resumes and they know a copied career objective when they see one. Writing a career objective is not a necessity. Also, writing a copied career objective doesn’t serve any purpose. Include a career objective in your resume only if have a clear career objective in mind which you want to pursue with your heart and soul.
Few other things:
- Don’t proudly boast of the unethical things you have done and expect the recruiter to think you are smart. We, at Vaave, believe that attitudes and character matter more than skills and so do many other companies.
- Don’t give your resumes weird names. Email ID and resume naming require the same thought process.
- When you are forwarding a previous mail as an application without even removing ‘Fwd’ from the subject, stay assured that your application will land in trash. When you send a forwarded mail as an application you are actually telling the organization that you have no particular interest in them and that they are one in a 100 for you. Everyone likes to feel special. So do organizations. Recruiters like when an applicant spends some time to understand the role and the organization before sending in a resume.
- Your profile image (email id) and the photograph you include in your resume should both be professional. Do not put up religious pictures (pictures of gods etc.) or any crazy pictures of yourself. Best is something that resembles a passport photo of yourself.
- Use gender neutral salutations. I am a female who sits on the other side of applications addressed ‘Dear Sir’. Remember that your recruiter can be of any gender. It is best if you can address them by name — Dear Mr./Ms. XYZ. In case you don’t know the name of the recruiter use gender neutral salutations such as ‘Dear Recruiter’, ‘Dear Manager’ or at least ‘Dear Sir/Madam’.
- Make sure your skills match your claims and the position you are applying for. Once, I received an application for a content writer from someone whose cover letter had many basic grammatical errors. I won’t care much if a software developer made grammatical errors as english grammar is not a required skill for the job. But for a content writer? DEFINITELY!!!
Research says that first impressions matter and your application creates your first impression for the recruiter. Make sure you make a good one.
Everything I listed may seem like common sense but you will surprised to know that I received hundreds of applications this year with these mistakes and many of the applicants were graduates from premier institutions across India. It was disturbing to see that so many of our precious youth lacked the basic skill of sending a decent application and this post is a humble attempt to help at least a few people send in decent applications to their prospective employers.
P.S: Avoiding the above mistakes will not guarantee a call for interview. These are basic hygiene and non-negotiable. But they will at least give the recruiter a decent first impression that you sent in a clean and clear application and make sure that your application is not rejected in less than 3 seconds. Now that basic hygiene has been talked about, I hope to write about best application practices soon.