Head Office: 01724 846 906 | Branches: 0845 544 3750

10 Job Application Bad Habits

... And How To Break Them

Leigh Gillatt  •  Careers Advice

10 Job Application Bad Habits


Not getting the job offers you want? You might be doing something wrong

Bad habits can often be difficult to either realise you’ve got them or when you do, knowing how to break them. They often begin harmlessly, and over time, can become a part of your personality. While some bad habits - like swearing too much or biting your fingernail - might not affect your everyday life too negatively, you may have formed some bad habits that are hindering your job application and search process.

Are you committing a job search sin?

We spoke to our team of recruiters and asked them to be brutally honest about the bad habit’s candidates can often pick up. Here’s the top 10 worst habits made in job applications:

1. Sending Out Form CVs And Cover Letters

Customisation per job role is the key to success. Our recruiters continue to see cookie-cutter / generic CV.

Using specific keywords from the job advert will not only ensure you’re customising your CV to the job you’re applying for, but it will also help ensure your CV comes up in search results as a ‘match’ in the applicant tracking system (ATS) used within the recruiting industry.

Fix It

Our advice here is to create a master CV that you can then use to adapt for whatever vacancy becomes available. This master CV will not only serve as the basis for different customisations, but it should also be the document you widely share through other potential job-hunting channels.

2. Not Updating Your CV

You’re applying for vacancies in the engineering industry, as you’ve been working in this sector for 3 years or so now. You send your CV for jobs similar to your current role, but no-one is interested.


Simple… you’re sending out your 3-year-old CV without any amendments to it!

Fix It

Every single time you apply for a job, look at your CV.

Is the right information prioritised?

Is the most up-to-date information on there?

If you’re applying for different types of role, you may want to prioritise the duties that relate to one role on one CV, and other duties on another copy. After all you can have more than one CV, and as highlighted above, they’re not static and should be customised for each of the roles you apply for.

If you need help with your current CV use the button below to go to our most comprehensive guide on how to write a CV:

3. Sending Your CV By Bulk Email

There’s nothing worse than receiving an email that has also been sent to another 30 mailboxes. Even worse, is where the email contains something along the lines of...

"I’m really interested in working for a company with a reputation like yours."

Fix It

The idea is that you should be emailing employers separately and personalising each of the emails you send so that it grab their attention. The lazy option of creating one generic 'cover-all' email and then adding everyone's email address to the 'BCC' box, just won't cut it, and most savvy hiring managers and recipients will actually be able to tell you've done this.

4. Thinking That Simply Emailing Your CV Will Bag You The Job

Most employers would like to see that you’ve seriously considered the role you’re applying for, rather than having just uploaded a CV on the off chance that you’ll be selected.

Fix It

Always use a cover letter, and failing that, personalise your introductory paragraph on your CV to the job you’re applying for.

5. Opting For Speed Over Detail

With some jobs garnering application counts in the hundreds after 24 hours online, we totally understand why you want to be on the top of the pile. But that doesn’t mean you should hit submit before a proofreading session… or three.

Fix It

Most jobs require attention to detail—especially in the administrative job roles where a main aspect of the job is effective communication. Unfortunately, grammatical errors or typos shine a light on the fact that attention to detail may not be your strong suit. – Get into the habit of proofreading every single piece of your job application materials; cover letters, CV, emails… everything.

6. Listing Responsibilities Rather Than Demonstrating Success

Your CV can be a notorious area of making bad habits, most people’s immediate instinct when adding detail to their work history section of their CV is to list, in bullet point format, a list of the responsibilities we had in those roles.

The scope and level of your job role responsibilities is important, but your achievements are what recruiters, and more importantly the employers, want to know more about.

Fix It

Rather than saying things like "managed a team to achieve…" perhaps say "motivated a team to achieve…" instead.

7. Overlooking Experience vs Qualifications Gained

Imagine that an advert asks for a qualified ACCA Accountant with at least 3 years’ experience. You’ve got 10 years, but no qualifications. You leave the ad, thinking "oh well, not for me..."

Fix It

Let them know that although you don’t match the role requirements 100%, you still think you’re a great candidate. Perhaps they’d be willing to put you through a course for the missing qualifications. Using the example above, many accountancy firms will also look at Qualified By Experience (QBE) candidates despite listing qualification within a job ad description.

The tip is to make sure skills are still relevant to the job role on offer here.

Why does the employer require these qualifications?

If it’s to prove you can do the job, then you could offer to do a free trial, demonstrating your skills and ability to perform the job role tasks.

8. Being Reactive Rather Than Proactive

Do you upload your CV to a job board, then sit back relax and wait for the offers to roll in?

It’s a very bad, and surprising common habit that leads to many a social media post or candidate-recruiter phone conversation using the words… “I can’t get a job”. Complaining that there are no jobs available without putting in any work to find one isn’t going to get you very far very quickly.

Fix It

Try a range of tactics. Hand out your CV to companies in the flesh, apply online to specific vacancies, call companies to enquire about vacancies, look for graduate schemes and apprenticeships, sign up to our recruitment agency, attend jobs fairs and open days, email hiring managers, network on LinkedIn etc.. there is a plethora of things you can be doing to find work.

9. Expressing Boredom During An Interview

There are some things you can’t help, but your body language, for sure, is not one of those things!

Fix It

To indicate that you’re on the same "wavelength" as your interviewer, match their posture, gesture, rate of speech and volume. If they use certain industry acronyms, go ahead and use them too.

10. Not Asking Questions In The Interview

Asking questions during job interviews isn’t just important, it’s essential. We can’t believe how big of a problem this still is for job seekers. Even if you feel like the person you’re meeting with has covered everything you might possibly want to know about the job or organisation, get creative.

Fix It

To increase your chances of securing the job, at the end of the interview ask the interviewer a few well prepared questions. We’ve written an article on our top 7 questions you could ask in an interview as a helpful guide.

Avoiding making these 10 common job application bad habits should help you be more effective in your job search and is likely to increase your success rate in finding a new job.


Getting To The Interview Stage But Falling At This Last Hurdle? Read Our Job Interview Guide For 2020 For All Our Tips On Interview Success!