Top Tips for Job seekers

what not to do when applying for a job with hands-on human resources


We want to see more successful candidates in their job search. The question we often ask when screening through applications is, “How badly do job seekers want to get a job interview?

List of things candidates should NOT do when applying for a job:

  1. Never use the same covering letter. We come across so many applicants who use the same covering letter for every job they apply for. Taking the time to motivate why you want the job could be the deciding factor between adding or removing you from the shortlist of potentially suitable candidates. The message job seekers send to the recruiter is that they are not really that keen on the job.
  2. The candidate doesn’t meet the minimum job requirements. We screen through hundreds of CV’s and so we are searching for specific competencies, which meet the key requirements of the role. Take the time to make sure your skills match the requirements of the role. Candidates who blindly shoot arrows in the dark with the hope that they will hit something will not prove successful.
  3. If candidates have no exposure to the field in which they are applying and are desperately wanting the job opportunity or career change, then do not leave it up to the recruiter to assume how badly you want it, motivate how badly the job opportunity is desired.
  4. Submit an outdated and unpresentable CV– A CV that is not up to date is not going to win any awards and may cost job seekers the interview. Omitting the reason why the candidate is not currently employed leaves everything to assumption which will not strengthen their case. Getting noticed in the job market is up to the job seeker.  Write the CV in a structured format. Make candidate CV’s presentable with the use of a professional template. Try to reduce the length of the CV to a maximum length of two pages. We know this is challenging when you want to provide evidence of the tasks accomplished in each position you have held. Focus on the key performance areas.
  5. Listing employment history in chronological order – Write employment history in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent position and ending with your first job. Include all your roles, and let the recruiter decide what is most relevant to the vacancy you are applying for.
  6. Supplying uncontactable Referees – Be honest with the recruiter about the reason for leaving. When providing references make sure they are contactable and inform Referee’s that you are in the job market and that they will be contacted at some point.
  7. Failure to include a personal profile section- It is advisable to summarize your career history with a professional summary at the beginning of your CV. That will provide the recruiter with an immediate overview of your experience without having to read any further.


  2. READ THROUGH YOUR CV and make sure it is understandable, bad grammar and spelling errors show carelessness and laziness, Grammarly is a great writing tool that you can enable on various browsers and platforms. Your CV is a reflection of your work ethic so upload a document that you are proud of.

We aim to empower our candidates with the tools to succeed in their job search. We do not view our applicants as a number in the running for the position, we take their career journey seriously and want to support them in the best way possible so download our interview guide for further tips to ensure your success in the interview whether virtual or face to face here.

These tips may seem obvious to most, but these common careless mistakes we have highlighted could cost you the interview so it’s worth the extra effort.

Do you have any tips you would like to share?

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Natalie Leach, CHRP, is the Founder and Director of Talent at Hands on Human Resources. She has gained a comprehensive understanding of people management from 25 years of experience in various sectors both in-house and HR Consulting. She is passionate about self-improvement and empowering people and organizations to thrive. Hands-on Human Resources offers Virtual HR and Talent sourcing services to South African SMEs. Send an e-mail to to book a call.

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