When you make an excuse for something that you know is wrong it can lead to bad habits and repeated mistakes. It’s important to identify your mistakes and learn from them, rather than making excuses, especially when you’re looking for a new job.

It’s week two of our series looking at some of the most common jobseeker excuses at the three most critical stages of finding a job –job search, CV & application and interview stage. This week, the excuses we make for ourselves when writing CVs, applications and cover letters.

You can read last week’s post on job search here, and stay tuned for our interview excuses post next week.

‘I don’t have time to apply’

You could argue that waiting until you have ‘enough time’ to give to a job application is a good thing. It is important that you take the time to tailor your CV to the role you are applying for and to check the application thoroughly before sending, more on that in a moment.

However, the danger is that this need for ‘enough time’ becomes indefinite, that through a combination of self-doubt and a busy schedule you never feel you have ‘enough’ time to do the application justice. Until the very last minute when you fire off a generic CV. The only way to avoid this is to set aside time every day, hours not minutes, to search and apply for jobs.

‘Spellcheck let me down’

We’ve all done it. You’ve read the spec top to bottom, you’ve identified the areas of your experience that fit the job and you’ve crafted the perfect CV and cover letter to illustrate that. A quick spellcheck and you send it. Then you read back over it.

Disaster. Spellcheck missed a few mistakes. It didn’t notice where you wrote ‘manger’ instead of ‘manager’, or the three times you typed ‘from’ as ‘form’. It has totally ruined your application. Except that it hasn’t. Spellcheck isn’t smart enough to read and understand what you’ve written. All it can tell you is whether or not you have spelled an actual word, whether that word makes sense or not. No matter how obvious it is that you can’t gain valuable knowledge at ‘collage’. Never rely on spellcheck – proof read everything yourself and give it to someone else to read too. Then read it again.

‘I wasn’t sure of the instructions in the ad’

Most job advertisements are straight forward, it’s just a matter of finding an email address to forward your CV to or a link that lets you ‘Apply here’. However, every so often you will find an ad that requires you to complete a questionnaire or expressly asks you not to call about the role. That inevitably leads people to do the exact opposite, in many cases wilfully ignoring the instructions as a way to ‘stand out from the crowd’. It is rarely successful.

If a hiring manager asks you not to call in the ad, calling doesn’t mark you out as enthusiastic or a ‘go getter’. It suggests you didn’t read the ad. Worse still, someone might infer that you can’t follow basic instructions. Either way, ignoring the instructions in the ad are unlikely to boost your chances of getting the job.

‘I’m not good at selling myself’

Job applications and interviews are sales pitches. There’s no doubt that you will be more successful in securing interviews if you can make a compelling case for hiring you in the application. However, that doesn’t mean that you need to be a brilliant writer or employ unique sales tactics to get noticed.

If you are avoiding putting together an application because you don’t feel comfortable writing a sales-ey cover letter, try breaking the process down. Write a list of bullet points on why your experience matches the job spec, group them into related topics and flesh them all out into sentences. That should give you the perfect framework to build an effective cover letter; without ever resorting to sales-ey padding or staring at a blank screen.

‘They probably wouldn’t hire me anyway’

When you have been out of work for a while you may start to assume that there is something innately unhirable about you.  It can lead you to ignore potential jobs because, well, ‘sure they wouldn’t hire me anyway.’ The problem with that is it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you don’t apply ‘they’ never get the chance to hire you.

Instead of falling into this trap, create your own self-fulfilling prophecy. When you sit down to write your next application, assume, ‘of course they’re going to hire me.’ Be positive in how you write your cover letter, how you approach the hiring manager, and how you think about the job. You never know how far that positivity will take you.

Read part one on job search excuses

Or find your perfect job on our job search