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Three big mistakes Aussies are making when applying for jobs

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Under-preparing for interviews, being lax about researching companies they're applying to, and not making the most of networking are three of the biggest mistakes jobseekers make, according to top recruiters.

Failing to adequately research a company will lead to applicants tripping over two important questions in the interview process are: why are you interested in this role and why are you interested in joining this company.

"People often haven't thought of these and if you answer them well it will make you stand out," says recruitment company Profusion director Simone Mears.

job application mistakes interview

Hays Australia managing director Nick Deligiannis says five other job interview questions that candidates struggle with are:

Where do you see yourself in five years? According to Deligiannis, interviewers ask this question to understand your career ambition, long-term interest in your field and whether this job aligns with your aspirations.

What are your weaknesses? This question is to determine how self-aware you are and whether you act to overcome your shortfalls. Think of a real-life weakness, but make sure it's a nice-to-have skill not a key requirement of the job. In the interview, explain the steps you're taking to overcome your weakness.

Tell me about yourself. Start your answer with a brief overview of your educational and professional background, then mention the relevant skills and expertise that make you suitable for this job.

Why are you the best person for the job? For this, you should focus on your top three or four strengths, giving examples of each.

What is your salary expectation? This is one of the most uncomfortable questions - you should do some research and then quote a salary band of between x and y for roles such as this.

Networking is vital

Finding roles is all about networking, Mears says.

"Have a good LinkedIn profile - it's your public business card - it needs a lot of information on who you are, not just your job descriptions, but who you are in the world expressed in an authentic and professional manner," she says.

"You need to connect with people on LinkedIn, send messages or notes.

"It's important to go through your contacts list and let people know you're in the market and looking for a job - text people and send invitations for virtual coffee meetings."

Virtual coffee meetings don't need to go as long as they used to - you can meet for 15-30 minutes, she says.

Make a list of 20 companies you want to join and sign up to their LinkedIn profiles to make sure all vacant ads will come into your mailbox.

Preparation is key

Know what you want, the kind of roles you will and won't do, the money you want to earn, and the companies you want to work for, Mears says.

"If you're not clear about that, then you'll need to do some work beforehand - don't expect the other person to tell you the roles they have and what might suit you.

"There's a lot of competition for those roles, if your CV stands out because of your experience you'll get an interview.

"Recruiters are looking at how much experience you have:  tenure in organisations, commensurate experience."

According to Mears, good candidates and good performers will get jobs.

"We've seen from the beginning of the pandemic clients have been prepared to continue the interview process and candidates have been willing to progress with them," Mears says.

"The process is no different now - for cultural fit, I find the conversations over Zoom, or whatever, are very effective, you don't need to be sitting in the same room as somebody it's all about values."

Three tips for applying for your next job

1. You need an excellent resume and job application that is short, gives examples and is free from spelling and grammatical errors.

2. Every job is unique, and your approach to each application should be tailored - research the business and explain how your skills make you the right fit for that role.

3. Prepare for the interview by practicing interview questions, preparing some questions about the job and business, explain what skills you will bring to the job, and plan what you will wear.

Hays has a free CV template on their website www.hays.com.au/career-advice/resumes-cover-letters/how-to-write-a-resume

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Julia Newbould is a financial writer and commentator with a background in journalism. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.
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