Advertising Recruitment Creative Industries

How to get a job in industry: Don't LOL in your CV, never sign off with "xx" or a smiley and stay out of the pub on your first day

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

April 10, 2013 | 6 min read

Digital media shorthand and text affection topped the list of most irritating job applicant traits in a new survey of recruiters by online agency Recruitment Revolution.

Eek: Text slang is not big and it's not clever, recruiters advised

The report - How to Alienate Employers and Miss Out On Potential Jobs - showed some jobseekers even add smile emoticons to their job applications, alongside LOL, Thx, TBH and numbers in place of words 2 try and entice employers - but to no avail, as recruiters made it clear such tactics were a big employment no-no.

"I wouldn't continue reading an application that used text speak," said talent manager at LIDA, Lisa Norbury, who is heading up a new apprentice recruitment drive at the M&C Saatchi Group agency. "Even in the the creative industry, which is less corporate and a little more relaxed in some ways than other sectors, candidates still need a proper degree of professionalism and respect to get our attention in the right way."

Spelling mistakes were a turn-off for more than half of employers, who said candidates were unlikely to make it to the interview stage if any were spotted. Amazingly, some employers reported receiving CVs with no contact details supplied, while an unprofessional or unflattering personal photograph didn't go down well.

"I receive a lot of job enquiries so applications need to stand out but there are a couple of big turn-offs, such as candidates insisting that my company needs them, or simply stating they are the right person for the job without taking the time to talk about their skills or experience to explain their bold statements," Norbury continued. "This kind of approach doesn't paint applicants in a positive light.

"What's worse is when I receive emails that go on forever, endlessly listing all the reasons why someone would be great for the job, which can leave you tearing your hair out of boredom half way through.

"Sometimes it's just a simple lack of understanding as to what exactly we do that can let people down. Why would a company really want to interview someone who hasn't made the effort to tailor they application and find out a bit about the employer before applying? Most importantly, a badly written and constructed CV containing incorrect spellings and bad punctuation is usually an instant 'no'."

Employers were keen for applicants to leave some of their recreational activities off CVs, with clubbing and watching reality television topping the list of 'other interests' recruiters were not at all interested in. They were also not keen to know about applicants who spent time outside of work "taking care of their cats".

Social media was a potential risk factor, too, with some employers admitting they do check up on potential new recruits on their social networking pages. LinkedIn was unsurprisingly the most popular, but Facebook, Twitter and Google+ were also on the list, so if jobseekers are not sure prospective employers would like what they see, it's time to make use of those privacy settings.

Norbury had some advice for jobseekers on other scenarios to avoid in the job application process: "Using a blanket approach, i.e. sending the same generic cover letter or email to several agencies, sometimes even using the wrong company name is an obvious one," she explained. "It needs to be personal. Candidates should show passion about this industry and wanting to work for us - also for the work we have done and the awards we have won, and be able to make reference to these things.

"Follow it up with a phone call a few days later - too many candidates send in an application then never follow it up," she added. "Recruiters are naturally busy people so a bit of persistence isn't a bad thing if it helps you get your name remembered in the right way."

For those candidates who did make it through the first few hurdles and into the interview stage, body language was an important factor in how employers judged potential new employees - avoiding eye contact, slouching and a limp handshake sent off alarm bells, while bad breath and nail-biting was not popular. For the eccentric types, a 'loud/comic tie' wasn't very amusing.

New employees who made it through all of those hoops would be foolish to let it all slip on the first day; being late, rude to junior staff and leisurely surfing the web were not on the impressive traits list. It would be wise not to get too friendly with new colleagues, either, as around a third of recruiters surveyed said attempting to befriend co-workers on Facebook on the first day was annoying, as was circulating jokes around the office email system and gossiping.

Lastly, the lunch-on-the-first-day dilemma was easily solved, with taking an hour out of the office deemed the most acceptable choice - however, a word of advice, don't spend that hour in the pub. LOL!

One recent example was yesterday's resignation of 17-year-old Paris Brown, the country's first youth police commissioner, after offensive tweets were uncovered on her account.

To view the latest jobs in advertising, design, digital media and marketing in your area, visit The Drum's job section

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