Top 5 Mistakes Candidates Make – and How to Avoid Them

By Veronica Blatt

image of missed target for mistakes candidates make

Our guest blogger is Jason Elias of Elias Recruitment in Sydney, Australia. Elias Recruitment is a specialist legal recruitment consultancy, finding lawyers for law firms, not-for-profits and corporates, across Australia. Jason is the Secretary/Treasurer of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors and received our Chairman’s Award in 2014. Jason is also a Fellow of the peak recruitment industry body in Australasia, the RCSA (Recruitment & Consulting Services Association).

As recruiters, we hear, see and are sometimes purely surprised by some of the easily avoided but common mistakes candidates make in the recruitment process. Here are some tips to help you along the recruitment process.

1. Overdoing a cover letter

There are circumstances that do require cover letters. Cover letters are not the place to rewrite your CV or attempt to write an award-winning novel. The cover letter needs to be concise and to the point (1-2 pages); address the selection criteria and make sure to double check your spelling. Most will receive less than 30 seconds attention so make sure the important information is upfront so the decision maker keeps reading. Dropping the name of well-regarded firms or partners you have worked for is a great way.

2. The Curriculum Vitae

We have covered the topic of CVs previously (see Use WD-40 to make your next job search smoother). A few reminders, there is no reason to put a photo in a legal CV. Do not include any matters that could be discriminatory including references to your age, marital status, race or religion. Be brief, anything over 4 pages is overkill. Make sure you focus on the most recent and relevant roles. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements without looking like you are blowing your own horn.

3. Job-hopping

The best way to raise red flags to a decision-maker is by having lots of moves in a short period. The inference is that you won’t stay terribly long in this role if they hire you. We understand sometimes there are reasons beyond your control why you move jobs. Sometimes it is a good idea to have reasons for leaving at the end of role, e.g. followed partner to a new firm, firm merged with another firm, offered in-house role with a client.

4. The follow up protocol

A phone call can be a good idea but it’s not something that should be done directly after you push the send button on your application email. Recruiters and human resource managers are only human and may have a large number of applications to process. Normally when a job is first opened they are knee deep in the search and screening process. Generally online applications reduce substantially after 5-6 days so rather than calling on day 1, we suggest leaving the follow up phone call to 7-10 days after the applications were sent or opened.

5. Repeat applications

The ‘serial applier’ is not a good look when trying to establish a foot in the door with a prospective employer. Most organisations have advanced applicant tracking software that keeps an eye on applications and even stores resumes, including previous versions and also the number of applications made. While there are many candidates with multi skills we suggest it is not a good look to have made applications for the family law, M&A and personal injury law roles.

These common mistakes candidates make can block you from consideration for your dream role – don’t let that happen!

Independent Recruiter Blog


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