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12 application myths uncovered

18/04/2019 Career Advice

Myths in the application process

The search for a new job is challenging, and the process of applying for a position is anything but a walk in the park. A great deal of time and energy is spent on preparing the perfect job application. After all, you want to be perceived positively through this first point of contact and overcome the first round of applications. Many applicants are still asking themselves the same question: what is the correct way to prepare an application? What does a good application look like? New and insecure job seekers find it particularly difficult to tell the difference between myths and useful information. We will take a look at twelve typical application myths and find out which of them could be useful when you are preparing your application.

Myth 1: Only active applicants will find a job

Actively sending out applications is only one of many possible ways of searching for a new job. Another way is to let yourself be found by firms and recruiters, in publicly accessible applicant data bases where HRM people are actively looking for potential new employees. Therefore, public social media platforms are becoming more and more important. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. offer plenty of space for so-called passive application opportunities. Business networks such as Xing and LinkedIn are already geared up for professional uses, and they are regularly searched by recruiters or head hunters looking for new employees.

Myth 2: Social Media Posts are just a private thing

Texts, photos and videos that have been posted on social media platforms are freely available to the public. You should always keep this in the back of your mind. Unprofessional postings can therefore morph into a real jobkiller. Many HRM professionals go online to search for more information on their applicants, and find out more about their personality. At best, they can come across a current profile in well-respected business networks like Xing or LinkedIn, but in a worst-case scenario they might find pictures from excessive parties, radical points of view, or public hate messages. Very often they will also check whether the information given in your CV matches up with the information in your public profile. The overall impression should, of course, be very good. For example, you can find out how to design your Facebook profile so that it can be useful for job seeking in our blog.

Myth 3: Speculative applications are pointless

Even when there are currently no jobs being advertised, it can still be worthwhile to submit an application. Very often there is a restructuring in the offing, in the near or distant future, or some people are due to parental leave. This leads to a future need for more staff, and the vacant positions are often advertised a long time after that. That’s why a speculative application has a good chance of leading to an interview for a job.

Myth 4: The application stands or falls on the quality of the accompanying letter

This is not quite true. Of course, every application should have a unique and, above all, error-free accompanying letter. A few clever formulations can even add a bit of sparkle to the whole thing and make the reader eager for more. The curriculum vitae is every bit as important as the letter of application because this is where you present your professional career path so far, your personal qualifications and achievements. If these all fit with the job that you are applying for, then your chances of being invited to interview will be good.

Myth 5: A confident approach in your letter of application will give you added brownie points

Depending on the length of his or her career thus far, every applicant has something to offer: a training course completed or a degree awarded, (initial) experience in the job, and the relevant sector, appropriate specialised knowledge, additional qualifications, soft skills, etc., etc. Maybe you were even recommended by some personal contacts. All of these things will go in your favour and make you look like a potential new employee. However, there is a fine line between healthy self-confidence and excessive arrogance. A lack of achievements cannot be compensated with an extrovert approach. That’s why you should remember: a self-confident, but at the same time serious application letter will be a plus point for the company, along with your own motivation and the hard facts in your application.

Myth 6: The CV should be no more than one A4 page long

This statement is also not quite correct, because the “one A4 page rule” is only a rough guide, to help you maintain some self-control, limit your writing and remember that you don’t need to include all sorts of unimportant details in your CV. The general rule is: “as detailed as necessary, but as short as possible”. Each section of your CV should show what exactly you were doing and what you learned from that. It is best to use keywords and dashes. The structure should be like a table, because this is easiest to understand. A continuous text in the curriculum vitae already frightens off the person in charge before reading or kills him in the figurative sense, due to the optical mass. After a few years of full-time work in a profession, the list of all the jobs and qualifications will naturally take up more space than just one side of A4. That’s why, in practice, two pages are very common.

Myth 7: A third page makes the application more professional

Whether a so-called third page is really necessary, depends on the applicant, the job, and to some extent it is also a matter of taste. If the job advert specifically asks for a motivation statement, or a covering page, then of course, this should be included. If this is not the case, and if you are a beginner with very little in the way of experience and qualifications, then it is absolutely not advisable to add pointless content and irrelevant extras on a third page. If you already have several years of professional experience behind you, however, then the third page can be used to sharpen up your profile and give the reader a summing-up overview. Any scholarly publications also belong on the third page.

Myth 8: All of the requirements in the job advert must be met

According to a study by the Corporate Research Foundation (CRF), for 88 per cent of employers, the personality of the applicant and excellent communication skills are the most important criteria. Other soft skills such as the ability to work as a team and intercultural competence are also becoming more and more significant. The impression you make as a person is often more important than your grades. Of course, you should have the most essential qualifications for the job in question. And if there are specific requirements, such as speaking a foreign language or having a driver’s licence, these cannot be simply compensated. But even if you do not fulfil every criterion in the job advert, it can still be worthwhile to send in an application.

Myth 9: It’s only about the contents of your application

Certainly, an important prerequisite for an invitation to interview is an application that has well-structured contents. Nevertheless, the content alone is not enough to convince the employer completely. Almost every fourth application is untidy and contains errors. That is why, whether you are applying online, or in the traditional way by post, it is essential to have an orderly and up to date presentation of yourself and your achievements.

An application that is designed to “stand out at any price” will not make a good impression on every HRM professional. This very much depends on the sector in question. It is likely that creative organisations will value an unusual application. That is why it is fundamentally advisable to make your letter of application and curriculum vitae as orderly, accurate and free of errors as possible.

Myth 10: There is no place for hobbies in a professional application

This statement is actually incorrect. Mentioning hobbies is one of those voluntary additions that you can make. In other words, if you don’t do it, it’s not wrong. But many HRM professionals are particularly interested in reading about your hobbies and about any volunteer activities that you do. This information reveals a lot about the personality and character of the applicant. That is why it is important that hobbies should be selected very carefully, and in such a way that they fit as well as possible with the job in question, and make the applicant look like a rounded person. This means that in practice, a maximum of four hobbies should be listed.

Myth 11: Lower salary expectations will increase your chances of getting the job

You would be well advised to find out before the interview, all about the standard salary levels within the firm, and in the sector as a whole. If the salaries are paid solely according to a pre-arranged schedule, then there will be very little room for manoeuvre. There are also specific salary levels that go with the job, and with the grades that you achieved in your academic qualifications. However, I can give you a general tip, to name a suitably high expectation, and then leave some room for negotiations, so that both parties can leave the discussion with a satisfactory outcome. If it is clear from the outset that the company of your choice does not pay very high salaries, then you can also negotiate over insurance, further education, a company car, etc. . Once you have applied to several companies and have been invited to multiple interviews, you may have the option of negotiating your future salary. If the general conditions are right, flexitime, trust-based working hours, special leave or home office may also contribute to rounding off the overall picture.

Myth 12: The application photo is no longer very important

Even if an application photo is no longer absolutely necessary for the application, from a legal point of view, it is still helpful in some cases. It is well known that a picture says more than a thousand words. But even with application photos there are some do's and don'ts to consider. The applicant should appear open and sympathetic - adapted to the respective position. Dress code and image section should be right and make-up and jewellery should be chosen discreetly. In general, you should plan for a really good application photo a little more expenses, instead of doing it semi-professionally on your own with your smartphone.

Sources:  hochschulanzeiger.faz.net | karriere.at | karrierebibel.de | karriereletter.de | n-tv.de

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