Job hunting in 2023?

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7 Job Application Taboos


Many of you will know there are certain dos and don’ts when it comes to job application protocols and etiquettes. Many of you may even be aware of several or all of them…however, we would not be writing this to you now if we thought most job applicants were aware of every “avoid at all costs” behaviours.

In fact, over the years of working in recruitment,
we have seen that most applicants are
making the same mistakes, over and over.

Honestly, we cannot really expect everyone to know what constructive interactions are when applying to a job and what is frowned upon or even blacklisted. After all, they are not professionals in job hunting. They are submitting applications to their vocation, not having a vocation in submitting applications. As hiring managers, it is our profession to know how to apply to a role successfully. Thus, this leads us to this piece– to share our knowledge so you do not have to make errors in your next job application.

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Mistakes can make job offers far and few between…and being “blacklisted” is something you never want to happen with a hiring manager. Trust us, every hiring manager/recruiter has their own list of candidates that they keep on file somewhere on their desktop or in a filing cabinet that clearly reads “NO WAY”. They will have many reasons why they’ve put someone in that pile and some of them you’ll see below. You might be thinking “I’ve had no problem in the past” and if you were lucky to get a role in the past, we can tell you now; it does not guarantee you will be as lucky next time around if you make these mistakes. So it is better to do things in your favour the first time, every time.

So, what will get you blacklisted by recruiters? Here is a list from the entire job application cycle – start to end that you should avoid doing:

ONE: You should avoid applying to roles that do not meet your needs. For example, do not apply to a full time position if you are seeking a part time or casual employment. If you’re thinking that a hiring manager will like you so much that they will alter the entire requirements of the position to meet your exact needs; you’re dreaming! You need to pay more attention to the job ads you are applying to. If they ask for a candidate to want to work full-time, they mean full-time, not part-time, not casual, not a short-term contract role. If there were options for flexibility, the job ad would clearly specify this more often than not.

All you are doing is wasting time for everyone involved, including yourself. The hiring manager will call you believing you are aware of the specific job requirements advertised. Other examples of this are job location, job starting and ending hours, special licenses you must have, and salary expectations are not met.

TWO: In line with paying attention to the job ad, make sure you note the small details, such as reference numbers to be quoted in your resume or certain hiring managers to address your application to in your cover letter. By not following the simple instructions requested of you, it will show your lack of attention to detail or care for the role. All this will result to not getting a phone call from the hiring manager.

THREE: Contacting the hiring manager is a great idea. You may wish to send an email, or call them, to find out a little more about the position before applying. If you do email, make sure you have all the questions you need answered in one email; however, be aware of the number of questions you ask. If there are a few, then it may be best to make a phone call.

However, do not send multiple emails, back and forth with question after question. This will become frustrating to the hiring manager. They will be annoyed to see another email from you, especially if you have not yet even sent through a job application. You will no longer come across as interested in the role. You will come across as a time waster. The hiring manager does not have time to reply to email after email, question after question.

FOUR: Speaking of emails – after you have sent your application and have had your phone interview, it is not a good idea to send an email the next day saying you are waiting to hear back regarding a second interview because “you need a job”. It makes you look incredibly unprofessional. Hiring managers have processes they follow, do not rush or interrupt their process. You may not agree, but they have it in place, as it is what works for them. Instead, if you strongly feel you need to reach out, and this is the role you really want to land; you could send an email on the same day of your phone interview thanking them for their time speaking with you and inform them that you are looking forward to hearing from them soon.

Do not send any other emails thereafter. Wait to be contacted. Believe us, if they want you, they will call you.

FIVE: If you get a phone interview and things go well and you are invited to come in for a face-to-face interview – do not ghost the hiring manager after and never show. If you change your mind and decide you are no longer interested in the position, have the courtesy the let the hiring manager know. You can even send a polite email thanking them for their time, but you’ve reconsidered the position. You do not have to provide reasons why you no longer want the role, but you should extend manners. This way, no bridges will be burnt if in the future another position arises with the company and you decide to apply to it with more interest. Trust us, ghosting does happen and those who do this will absolutely be found in the recruiter’s “NO WAY” file.

SIX: During the interview process you would have (hopefully) discussed salary expectations. If the company has a set budget and has made it clear of what their maximum salary they can offer is, and you still continue with the interview process, it is then understood you accept the salary on offer. If after a job offer you decide to negotiate a much higher rate (outside of the companies’ budget), this will not be entertained, despite what you may have been told by others or believe.

This of course applies to certain positions that have set salaries within the companies and industries, such as retail, hospitality, trade and healthcare. For example, you are applying to a Sales role with a clear base + commissions package. You are told the base for all new employees is the same: $50k with a 5% commission structure. You say “ok”. A week later you get the job offer. You then tell them that you will accept the role if the salary is $65k plus commissions. Be prepared to hear the words ‘no’. You may even have the job offer revoked. But believe this, if you do decide to accept the original offer after asking for more; you would have already set the tone of what the hiring manager will believe to expect from you – a difficult employee.

This does not mean you don’t have the right to negotiate a salary. Keep an eye out for our Salary Negotiation blog to see how and when you should be doing it.

SEVEN: In most cases, you will be given two interviews, one with Human Resources / Recruiter and the other with the manager who is the final decision maker. Instead of telling you what not to do – we will write an example scenario:

Imagine a candidate is applying to an Administration role. The interviewer at first round of interviews asks what are their long-term goals. They respond by telling them they want to stay long term with one company and grow into a more Senior Admin role or even office management. This sounds good to the recruiter. They are looking for people who are committed to the role and happy to grow within their position. The rest of the interview goes well and the recruiter happily puts them forward for a second round with the supervisor they would be reporting to. The supervisor asks the exact same question at the second interview “what are your long term goals?” however; this time the candidate responds with “I would like to become an Accountant. This is my dream and I hope to fulfil it as soon as possible.”

Well, firstly, we are sure you can see what went wrong there. The candidate of course was not offered the position – they were not the right fit as the company was looking for long-term employees in an administration position. But it begs the question of why did the candidate even apply to the role and lie in the first round about their goals? Why did they even go as far as second round? Not only does the recruiter now have egg on their face, time was wasted for everyone. It is time that could have been spent interviewing someone who actually wanted a position in Admin. Don’t simply give a response you think the recruiter/hiring manager wants to hear.

You need to be honest from the get go,
otherwise it will end badly for all.

Well, there you have it – we have provided a number of examples of what not to do when applying to jobs. In order to sum it all up – pay attention to the roles you are applying to. Question whether it is a position you want for yourself, and then follow calm, professional steps to ensure your success. Use open communication with the hiring manager ensuring it is clear and concise. Stay focused on your goals and do not go back and forth with your decisions. If you are unsure, then perhaps you should hold off applying to any roles until you know exactly what it is you are after. This will avoid any issues for yourself and the companies you deal with.

Remember, if you need any assistance in your career decision-making or job applications, then we are here to help.

We can make sure your resume meets the selection criteria, help you identify the right roles to apply to and even go over the do’s and don’ts when it comes to job applications and interviews. Send us a request for a free discovery call today.


My career angels

“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.”

—Arianna Huffington