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Open letter to a candidate RecWorks has rejected

If you’re reading this, the chances are that you have been rejected for a job you’ve recently applied for at RecWorks. And the chances are that we rejected your application before we even read your CV was because of errors in your covering letter. Do you think that’s unfair?

In reality we try to be as fair as we can; firstly by highlighting where you’re going wrong, so you can give yourself a better chance of success in future applications and secondly, by giving you a chance to right those wrongs and reapply. So we’re going to tell you why we rejected you and give you some advice on applying for jobs.

We have seen hundreds of thousands of applications for jobs over the years; we have spoken for years to hiring managers and regularly read research on the best way to apply for jobs and the classic mistakes that people make. The simple issues described below are crucially important to your chances of being called for interview. If you’re making any of the following mistakes, they may be holding you back from landing job offers.

If you have been rejected by RecWorks, read this post and decide to reapply, please start your email by saying: “This is my second application. My first was rejected, but I have read your post and made some changes to my application.”

Your application has probably been rejected for one or more of the following issues.

Spelling errors

  • Don’t have ANY spelling errors. With spell checkers on every email program, there is simply no excuse for having spelling mistakes on your application. If your spelling skills are not strong (or English is a second language), then get someone to double-check your application.

Grammatical errors

  • Don’t have ANY grammatical errors. Don’t try too hard to impress: keep your writing simple, clear and respectful. Read your email back to yourself, imagining you were the person it’s addressed to.

I would estimate that 90% of applications we receive have errors with spelling or grammar. It means that these CVs probably won’t be opened because quite clearly the person applying hasn’t put in the effort needed to ensure the application is well-written and error-free. Mistakes in your letter of application suggest you’ll make errors in your work too or be similarly careless.

 Addressing the letter

  • Start your email “Hi <first name>”, e.g. “Hi Barry”.  Don’t use a full name, e.g. “Hi Barry Cranford”, don’t use Sir/Madam and don’t use “To whom it may concern”. If you don’t know who is hiring then do two minutes of research into the company to find out.

The RecWorks Developer Careers Guide has been written to help applicants understand how to give themselves the best chance of securing an interview: the advice applies equally well whether you are a recent graduate/entrant to the job market or someone who has been with a company for a while and is out of practice in applying. While the guide is specifically aimed at developers, many of the points made apply to candidates for any job, so it’s well worth checking out.

If you believe your CV and covering letter are letting you down, read:

Post 4: Responding to job adverts

Post 5: Make sure your CV is read and not rejected

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