The 5 biggest mistakes job seekers make (and how to avoid them)

The legal sector is bigger and more competitive than ever before, so it is not surprising that applicants feel the pressure to stand out from the competition and position themselves as the candidate-of-choice. But all too often we see applicants making silly mistakes that are costing them their chances of job success.

Here are 5 of the most common mistakes we see applicants make when applying for their next role:

  1. The application is not specific to the job in hand:

In their haste to secure a new position as soon as possible, some applicants adopt the scattergun approach to job hunting – using the same CV for each role they apply for.

But this cut-and-paste tactic alienates recruiters and employers. We want applications that demonstrate a candidate’s understanding of the client’s business and how they can add value to it.

  1. Failure to maximise personal and professional networks:

It is estimated that around 75% of all vacancies are never advertised on job boards or in newspapers and magazines. To access this ‘hidden’ jobs market means getting yourself ‘out there’, yet too many people fail to take advantage of the connections they have who could point them in the right direction of who is recruiting and when.

Think about the companies that you would like to work for, follow them on social media and keep your own social media profiles up to date too. Attend key events in your area and do what you can to be seen and heard in the same places that they are hanging out.

  1. Dressing for the part they have, not the part they want:

In Hamlet, Polonius said, “For the apparel oft proclaims the man”. The way you dress is a representation of how you wish to be perceived by your peers, so regardless of whether your current law firm has a moderately relaxed dress code, don’t assume that the one you are applying to work for is the same. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have and never forget that there are no second chances to make a first impression.

  1. Using CVs that could fit on a Post-It note or resemble an excerpt from War and Peace:

The secret to a great CV is understanding what information the recruiter and hiring manager is most important to them, what do they want to see first. The average recruiter will take less than 20 seconds to make a decision in whether to progress your application any further, so you need to make an impression…fast.

Our view is that for any position from entry level to middle management your CV should stick to no more than two sides of A4. For senior and executive-level roles, your focus needs to be more on your professional achievements, so we would expect it to be a little longer than a standard CV. The key is to only include information that is relevant to the position you are applying for.

  1. Failure to be part of the team:

Some people simply go about their jobs and do little more than what their job description dictates, but that will never see you stand out from your peers. Having the best qualifications is one thing, but employers are attracted to candidates who can work well within their teams, buy into the company’s values and are prepared to go above and beyond the call of duty when the need comes.