15 mistakes I’ve seen this week from graduate candidates

Last week, I advertised a trainee recruiter role with a science background. So, obviously, I’ve received 138 applications over the weekend. Here are 15 mistakes that I’ve seen graduates make in their application/interview in the last 3 days. Yes, 15 mistakes that happened multiple times since Monday, so I thought I’d list them and explain why that’s not something you should do when you apply for a job or interact with a recruiter. Don’t spoil your chances at the beginning of the process! 


1. A summary for another role 

You’ve applied for a trainee recruiter for the science desk, yet, the summary on your CV states that you’re looking for a role in a lab. 


2. Typos in your email address 

Great, my email asking you for a good time to talk bounced back. So, I’ve called you… and left a voicemail. 


3. You thought I ghosted you 

But, did you listen to your voicemail? Or check your spam folder? Yes, my email was in your spam folder, and you didn’t pick up the phone when I followed up to ask if you’d received my email. 


4. Being presumptuous or demanding 

There’s an economic crisis, and even at the best of times, graduate/trainee jobs are highly sought after, which means that this recruitment process is going to be really competitive. I’ve received over 100 CVs throughout the weekend, so if your only availability to talk to me is in 2 weeks’ time, after 6pm or on a Saturday, chances are, the role will be filled before we get to talk. 


5. Being rude 

See point #4: 100 other candidates. If you’re rude to me, the in-house recruiter, when you want a job, that doesn’t bode well to how you’ll behave to our clients. 


6. Asking if you can skip the recruiter interview for the real interview 

See point #5 - how rude and condescending! The recruiter interview is your stepping stone into the recruitment process. The recruiter will assess your skills and experience, and will advocate your application to the hiring manager. So no, you can’t skip talking to me. You will not get to talk to anyone in the business in a formal capacity if you skip the recruiter interview; the manager will simply forward your email or your call to me and ask me to talk to you (on a scale of 0 to 10, how likely am I to call you at this point?). 


7. Asking for a higher salary because you have a degree 

You have a degree; good for you! So, do I, but that makes no difference in the price tag for this role. Would it be nice to be paid a lot of money for your 1st job? Hell yes! Is it realistic? Nope. When it comes to graduate or trainee roles, the company is going to invest heavily in training you. It’s a cost that you don’t see and a value you don’t necessarily appreciate, but all the training and mentoring you’re going to receive have a price, and you will take these learning with you the day you leave the company. 


8. Unrealistic career progression expectations 

So, you’re applying for a trainee/graduate role, but you want to be a manager in 12-18 months?! Gee, I’d be glad if in 12 months you had explored all the facets of being a recruiter and you were consistently hitting your target every month. Believe me, there’s a lot to learn about recruitment. 


9. Making it clear you’ve applied for this job out of desperation 

I get it, it’s really hard this year to get your 1st job so you may have applied for jobs that are not exactly what you set out to do when you started your degree. However, when the time comes and I ask you, “why do you want to become a recruiter” do not tell me it’s because you have a degree in the right vertical for the job you applied for (I know that, why do you think I got in touch with you?). Do your research, prepare for the interview. You may find out that you don’t want to do that 5 days a week. Imagine if you bluffed your way through the interviews, got the job and hated it? During that time, you could have missed out on plenty of opportunities for jobs you actually would have liked to do. 


10. Don’t be an ass if I say no to you 

There’s no need to yell at me, to cry, to email me profanities or to tell me I made a mistake by not progressing your application through the process. It may make you feel better for a second, but really think about how you’d like people to treat you before you do any of that. Don’t hound me on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to try to make me change my mind; I’ve got 137 other people to get back to. 


11. Asking for more of my time after your application has been declined 

I’m really sorry, but I’m a recruiter, I have headcount targets to fill. I cannot be your shrink or your career coach. If I have constructive feedback for you, I will give it to you, but it quite often happens that the only feedback I have is that we liked other candidates better. Maybe they have more relevant experience for the job than you – yes, I know it’s a graduate/trainee role, however, if a candidate has relevant experience, it’s way more likely that they will perform better in the interview than someone who doesn’t have that experience. 


12. Apply, apply, re-apply, apply some more! 

Either you’re not very organised in your job search (check out this blog post to help you) or you’re not reading the jobs you apply for, or you believe you’re going to wear me off and I will eventually call you. 

Spoiler alert: I won’t. I’ll just feel bad for sending you the same rejection email as I did before, because, really, if your application wasn’t a good fit yesterday, it’s probably still not a good fit today. 

Also, if we’ve already set up a time to talk, don’t apply again for the job. You’ve already secured the 1st interview… 


13. Displaying a lack of urgency 

First, this is a competitive job market, the longer you make the recruiter wait to interview you, the higher the chances that other candidates will have progressed through the recruitment process. A good recruiter will keep interviewing candidates until the offer is accepted by a candidate, so while you’re slowing down that process on the off chance that the other places you’ve applied to get in touch with you, you might be missing out on this job. But let’s face it, if you’re not keen to interview, you’re probably not into that job anyway. 

Second, if you’re applying for any role that describes itself as a “fast-paced environment” (that is every.single.job.in.2020), delaying the start of the recruitment process by a week and a half doesn’t demonstrate at all that you have a sense of urgency – which is a trait that everyone is hiring for. 

In short, I’m not saying that you should book your interview on the same day, but if you get contacted on a Monday morning, make yourself available during the same calendar week. 


14. Attaching degrees, transcripts, references to your application 

At this point in the recruitment process, we only need your CV. We’re going to take your word for it that you completed your degree and can provide references. 

Depending on what applicant tracking system the company is using, your random attachment could be uploaded to your profile instead of your CV! And that is dramatic because with the high volume of applications, there’s no guarantee that the recruiter will go looking for the correct file in the deep ends of the system. 


15. The CV deception(s) 

Not having any dates on your CV. I’m reading it, and yet I’ve no idea what you’ve been doing. Have you been working after university, during university, are you still studying? I don’t know. And if I don’t know what your experience and education is, it’s unlikely I will call you for an interview. 

Making your experience “bigger” by not writing the full dates. For example: “May-July 2020 – Lab assistant”; to me, that means you have about 3 months experience in this role, but you could have half as much experience if your role started at the end of May and ended at the beginning of July. How betrayed I feel when I find out while interviewing you...