Does this topic resonate with you?

We hear this story over and over…  “I have strong grades, the correct degree type for the job, some work experience so why do I keep getting rejected at the first stage of an application?” We know it must be disappointing as you don’t even get the chance to progress pass stage one to prove yourself and also don’t know what you’re doing wrong.

Undercover Grad Recruiter wants to help you understand the most common pitfalls and problems most people don’t even consider.

This blog will be dedicated to just the first stage of a graduate job, which is the application form. We will talk about all the pitfalls of an application form and what we see students doing wrong, time and time again.

Read on to help you help yourself!

Get the gramar and spelling rihgt– see how annoying it is when something so simple is messed up? Spell check is compatible on almost all platforms, so there is no excuse for simple spelling errors. As for grammar, it’s a little more difficult, however if you aren’t sure of your skills, ask someone to review your application for you. People will get rejected because of this reason… usually not just because of one or two mistakes, however some students have 5-20 mistakes in their application form and that’s a straight rejection because you aren’t paying attention to detail and nor have you bothered to review your application to pick up on or fix your errors.

Passion, drive and enthusiasm– as recruiters, we want to know exactly why you have applied for this role and the company, so let your passion, drive and enthusiasm shine through. We can see this in your words and sentence structure, it’s actually really easy to spot for a recruiter and even easier to see when it’s absent. Talk about why you want to work for the company, the reasons you have chosen to study your degree and where you want your future career to head. This goes a long way to getting recruiters to understand who you are and what you want.  Let it shine through.

Sentence structure– when answering questions, ensure there is logical structure to your answer.  Answers which go on and on without a start, middle and finish get over looked pretty quickly, even if somewhere in there you have some great points you wanted to share.

Don’t ever leave an question unanswered–  time and time again we see students who simply don’t answer a question, no matter what it is, never leave an question unanswered as this will lead to an immediate rejection.

Put in effort– because if you don’t your fellow students (and job competition) will and they will be the ones with the job offers, not you. Don’t try and cut corners or save time, spend the time that’s required per application. UCGR recommends around 45 minutes to 1 hour per application. Ensure you have answered every question in depth and put every inch of energy you have into each answer AND each application.

Tailor your application form to each company– often we see copy and paste jobs referring to a different company name or industry, highly possible you may be rejected for this. Ensure you write new answers for every application as each company will have different questions and most importantly tailor your answers. Refer to specific company values or industry trends to tie your answers to the company and look ever so intelligent.

If you aren’t really interested- don’t apply. Don’t waste your time on a company you would not want to progress with anyway, because if they decide to progress you through their process, you will be wasting valuable time on that job that you could be spending on one you care about and should pay more attention to. Choose a back-up company that you would still be happy to accept a job at. Think carefully about this and have a strong list to choose from.

Use your experience wisely-If you have relevant work or internship experience then ensure you put it on your application form. Often we see applicants have very relevant experience on their resume, but do not put it on their application form. Recruiters do not always view a resume until a few steps into the recruitment process, so don’t make that mistake.

Don’t talk about personal issues– this seems to be a pretty easy one, but as recruiters we do see it all the time. Topics to avoid: relationships, family troubles, money issues or personal problems.

Don’t use university/ college examples too often– use them sparingly and interject with work, volunteer, sports or other internship experiences as these are the examples we want to hear about. Everyone one of you has completed a ‘group project’ before, so we want to hear what makes you stand out, not what everyone else has done.

Don’t lie or exaggerate the truth as you will be found out. Trust us, it only gets you so far and then you will get caught out, which can be the most embarrassing moment you’ve come across to date.

Understand the company, industry and job type you are applying for to show off your knowledge to get ahead. Weave it into your answers and use similar language to the way the company represents and talks about itself.

Talk about your volunteer, charity, mentoring or similar experiences. It shows companies that you are involved in activities bigger than yourself, you are able to help your community and may have potentially gained great skills and experiences. Don’t be shy to talk about experiences that show you are a well-rounded person!

Remember application forms are your first contact with recruiters or HR. Every company receives hundred and often thousands of resumes for their graduate program. Most recruiters don’t even read your resume or cover letter until after they view your application form. So remember, if you have an outstanding resume but don’t put the effort into your application form, most likely you won’t be progressing any further.


Good Luck Students!

Undercover Grad Recruiter is here to help- so if you have a question you are struggling to answer, drop us a line or comment on this blog.


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