How not to get a job, and why you should keep trying

My department is hiring and we’ve put out a job ad. Based on the applications I’ve received, I realise being able to put together a normal-looking job application is an achievement in itself. People are really stranger than I think.

Here’s what NOT to do when submitting your CVs….

* DO NOT attach a photo. I don’t know if this is the norm in other countries, but here I realise this happens mostly only with applicants from mainland China. Seriously, 9 times out of 10, you will look like either an idiot or a psychopath. It’s unnecessary.

* DO NOT display your religion. For example, don’t say in your cover letter “….I am always up for any challenges as presented by God The Father Almighty…”. Seriously?

* Have a respectable personal email address. Don’t give me something like “submarine-flower(@)”. It’s unprofessional.

* At least have the decency to spell-check and grammar-check your resume. You can’t tell me you’re detailed-oriented and have fluent English when your resume is riddled with errors!

* Use a normal file format. Writing your resume in an Excel file and then sending me the Excel file is just plain weird. When the job requires you to stick to protocol and be consistent and reliable, it makes me not trust you to do things in un-wierd ways.

* I know you were a teacher, but telling me that you have a SEXUAL CONVICTION RECORD CHECK CERTIFICATION by the Hong Kong Police is just…..too much information. Honestly, all I really see is “SEXUAL CONVICTION”. That together with your  over-exposed passport photo is just creepy.

*Know what job you’re applying for. Sending me your cover letter and resume with the job title of a different job in bold capital letters will make me delete you immediately.

*Mind your file names. Sending me your resume with the file name as “John Wong resume Life Sciences” is really just telling me that you most likely also have a resume  for “John Wong resume Banking”, “John Wong resume Teaching”, or “John Wong resume Accounting”……I won’t believe that you really want this job specifically.

Having said that, I do feel sorry for every rejection I have to give because I know what it’s like to be searching for a job. The battle you have to go through everyday. The silences. The rejections. Quite a few are trying to switch from academia to industry, a many are looking for either their first job after university or trying to graduate from temporary jobs in retail and call centres to the first rung of a corporate ladder.

I once took rejections very personally, thinking that there must be something wrong with me. But for what it’s worth, it’s never personal. You were most likely not given an offer due to reasons such as: the company’s just decided not to hire anymore (maybe they realise they don’t have the budget); your personality might not fit in with the boss or the rest of the team’s (but you could be a perfect fit elsewhere); you don’t have the experience they’re looking for at the time (but you could be just what someone else is looking for) etc.

So don’t be disheartened. I’d like to think it’s more about being at the right place at the right time. Just keep trying.

And please put some sanity into your CVs – don’t post a photo. I don’t fancy seeing that crazed stare of yours every single day in the office.


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