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Is the Quality of your job applications good enough?

_How's the quality of your job applications? It all starts there.

When you send a job application, your goal is one: to get noticed and be invited for the interview. This means that you need to actively think through your application before you hit the send button. I would like to share a few tips on how to overcome the simple mistakes that candidates make when sending applications. This is not exhaustive but might help someone.

#1. NEVER send an application with a blank or vague subject. It's expected that in your email subject line, you'll indicate the position that you're applying for. It should be as simple as "SENIOR ACCOUNTANT" or "SALES EXECUTIVE". Most job adverts will give you instructions on what to put in the subject line. Sadly, I see so many candidates send applications without the subject. Chances are 99% an application without the subject will kiss the dustbin. Why? Most organisations have a dedicated email address through which they receive job applications and at any given time they may be receiving applications for multiple job vacancies simultaneously. If the hiring manager cannot figure out immediately which role you're applying for, he/she will not waste time to open your resume and try to study it. They'll immediately delete it. This is how some of us miss opportunities. Simple mistakes. Even where you're sending 'blind' or 'unsolicited' applications, always indicate the role/title you're interested in in the subject line. Avoid titles like, 'Job Application', 'Expression of Interest', 'CV and Cover Letter'. The role you want to be considered for must be very specific. When applying for internship, you can indicate your department of choice - 'HR Internship'. There is never anything like 'any job available in your company'.

#2. WRITE some brief notes in the email body. Generally, it's part of email writing etiquette not to leave the email body blank. Even when sending email to your colleague sitting at the next desk at work place, it's recommended that you put some brief notes on the email body. When applying for a job, write some brief notes on email body (usually on yourself, competence, experience, skills-set etc). Someone may not read it but it's okay.

#3. DON'T forward emails from past applications. I see this a lot with candidates. To me, it's a sign of laziness and lack of seriousness. You apply for a new job by forwarding past email applications with an email trail with all applications you've made in the last 6 months? I can see that you did an application to G4S, Naivas, Safaricom, Crown Paints....all because the trail is there and you never bothered to delete. This is a NO. Start a new, fresh email each time you send an application.

#4. Don't FORGET to attach your CV (and cover letter). Some candidates do. Don't be in a hurry and forget basic things. And please don"t Copy+Paste 'CV' on the email body. This will earn you instant rejection. Have a properly done CV (we'll talk about CV in another post in future).

#5. DON'T attach a ton of documents, UNLESS you've expressly been asked to. Attaching those scanned JPEG images of your certificates makes your mail very bulky and may be difficult to open. Sometimes, depending on the receiver's email server configurations, such bulky emails may be blocked or dropped into the spam box. Keep your application light by avoiding attaching scanned documents. For graphic designers and video editors, for example, it might be different. They may want to send their portfolios as part of their applications.

#6. SEND your applications between Day 1 - Day 5 after the job advert is posted. Those earnestly looking for a job already knows the job sites/boards where they keep regular checks on current job opportunities. Some have subscribed so that they keep getting constant alerts on jobs of their interest. Most job adverts give as much as 30 days for candidates to apply. But here is the truth. If an organization is looking to hire to fill a vacancy within two months (which most companies do), they'll be done with shortlisting within two weeks after the advert is posted. By the time you send your application at the last minute, the process is done and closed. You stand the best chance if you send your application as early as possible.

#7. DON'T apply for jobs that you clearly know you don't qualify for. Everyday we receive calls from candidates complaining that they've been sending applications but they've never been called. When we check their CV against the jobs they applied for, we realize that they never took time to look at the basic role requirements. When a role for 'Finance Administrator' is advertised, it's possible that one of the requirements is some level of finance/accounts qualifications are required. It's not enough to say that because you have experience in administration then you qualify. Check for mandatory qualifications and see if you fit in. We say that you must meet at least 70% of the qualifying criteria before you decide to apply. Many candidates get distressed because no one acknowledges their numerous applications. It's not because you're not qualified. You could be applying for jobs that obviously are not in your line of competence. Got it? It's not about the NUMBER of applications you make but the QUALITY of those applications.

Have a bountiful year 2020.

********************************************************* William Mukaria | Nairobi | 30.12.2019

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