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Is the anomaly in your job application a deal-breaker?

Is the anomaly in your job application a deal-breaker?

Written by Jo Kiley

Jane Carey, a recruiter for the past 22 years, received a job application for a facilities management role she advertised. A few moments enabled her to review the candidate’s recent experience, qualifications, goals and aspirations...all looking good. But wait, what’s this? It looks like this candidate has an anomaly in their application. Is it a deal-breaker, or does it require further investigation to substantiate? Either way, the candidate’s hopes of getting a job interview have just decreased, especially if there are other quality candidates vying for the same role.  

So, what anomalies are commonly found in job applications and why do they pose a problem for recruiters and employers.  

  • Instability 
    Whilst being in one or two jobs for a short period of time is not an issue, regular job hopping can be a deal-breaker for recruiters. When a resume shows lots of short stints in job roles, it indicates that the applicant may be unsettled, lacking security and a sense of loyalty to their previous employers, meaning they are less likely to be successful in the role.  If roles are short term for a reason e.g. for a temp assignment, add this detail to your resume. 
  • Referees listed are not from recent job roles 
    A recruiter uses references for feedback on a candidate’s recent job performance. Without recent information about job history, performance and conduct, a recruiter may not have the confidence to put the candidate forward for a role. Remember, when a recruiter recommends a candidate for a job, their reputation is on the line too! 
  • Unexplained gaps in employment 
    Gaps in employment are not necessarily a bad thing if the gap is explained either in the resume or cover letter. Usually, there are perfectly logical explanations such as study leave, illness or injury, parental leave, travel, etc. Without an explanation, however, the recruiter or employer will have to guess at the reason for the gap and spend time substantiating the reasons, if they wish to progress the application.  
  • When studies don’t match the job choice 
    When an applicant applies for a property management role but is studying marine biology, a recruiter will question their commitment to the job and career path. This may look like an anomaly on a resume, but it doesn’t have to be a problem. It should, however, be addressed to avoid confusion. Some people study for personal interest and just love to learn or may not wish to work in the field they’re studying for another 5 – 10 years.  
  • Serial applicants who apply for every job 
    Applicants who repeatedly apply for jobs which they are not skilled in or qualified for, damage their chances of getting the job they applied for. Furthermore, they can develop a reputation as a serial applicant, affecting their chances of getting future roles.  
  • Spelling and grammar issues throughout the resume  
    Recruiters may not be worried when coming across a typo in a resume but seeing multiple spelling and grammar mistakes will cause alarm bells to sound. The recruiter will then have to consider if the mistakes are due to, a poor command of the language, lousy attention to detail, or a lack of enthusiasm for the role.  
  • Overseas/Interstate applications not explained 
    Applications from people living overseas and interstate are welcome. But when these applicants don’t explain their relocation plan, this brings a definitive obstacle to their application progressing. This is especially important now with strict travel restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.    
  • Location disparity 
    A long commute can become a drain over time. If employees are required to work on location or in the office, employers care how far they commute. When we receive an application for a role in Port Adelaide from someone who lives in Mt. Barker, we’re concerned the distance may be a problem. There are times when this disparity can be explained. Perhaps this person’s partner also works in Pt. Adelaide and they commute together. Perhaps they’re writing a book and use the commute time to write. There could be many reasonable explanations for the location disparity, but again, this should be addressed in the job application.  

A good recruiter has a sixth sense for false information or when something just doesn’t look right, so it’s best to be upfront and address any queries before they turn into reasons to reject your application. 

Before you send off your next job application, imagine you're the hiring manager. Their objective is to hire someone who will thrive in their business and executive the job required whilst getting along with the existing team. Consider any questions a recruiter or employer might have about your job application before they become an anomaly. Then address the reasons for any concerns in your cover letter or in a phone call to the recruiter or potential employer.  

Good luck with your job hunt!