Eight ways you’re selling yourself short in your job search

Can’t get the job you want? Stop selling yourself short…

One of the most important parts of job searching is selling yourself effectively – whether it’s through your CV, cover letter, or at an interview. Unfortunately, this isn’t always an easy task, meaning you could be compromising your applications without even realising it.

To make sure you’re showing recruiters what you can really do, here are eight ways you’re selling yourself short in your job search (and our advice on how to turn it around):


1. You’re playing down your achievements  

Sure, admitting how amazing you are can be tough; but when it comes to your job search, it’s pretty much an essential requirement.

So forget (almost) everything you’ve heard about self-proclaimed greatness equalling arrogance, and accept that blowing your own trumpet is often the only way a recruiter will know you’re qualified – providing your stated achievements are relevant, honest, and you don’t go overboard.

Remember: a recruiter can’t see how good you are unless you actually tell them.

Example: I have [insert qualification type] but it’s really only an introduction to the subject…


2. You’re using clichés

Hands up if you know what a goal driven, detail oriented, multitasker actually is? Nope, neither do recruiters.

Not only are clichés like these notoriously overused, they also don’t really say a lot about you. And let’s face it, if your CV is tenth in line after nine others that also open with ‘I’m a self-starter’, yours is unlikely to stand out.

To really impress, figure out what makes you unique – and use it to demonstrate your abilities, backing each claim you make up with real-life examples.

Example: I’m a dynamic perfectionist with excellent people skills.

Five lines that are killing your CV

What word should I use on my CV?


3. You’re overusing qualifiers

Job searching can often cause you to doubt yourself, especially if you’ve been dealing with a lot rejection.

And even if you talk about all the right things, a lack of confidence or interview nerves can shine through in your applications – all due to a few simple words that you probably don’t even realise you’re saying.

Whether it’s um, maybe, possibly, perhaps, or worse – I don’t know – fillers like these will do nothing but compromise the validity of your statement. Instead, take a pause to think about what you’re going to say – and say it with confidence.

Example: Maybe this is a stupid question…

Questions to ask at the end of a job interview


4. You’re not taking the ball

Knowing when to talk (and when to stop talking) at an interview can be difficult – especially if you’re not given clear indicators.

This can often result in cutting your answers short in the hope that it’ll stop you from rambling and/or boring the interviewer. But although oversharing can be a danger, that doesn’t mean you should hold back.

The key? Find the line between the two, and elaborate on your most relevant skills and experience in each answer you give. Then, end the interview with well-thought out questions. After all, an interview should be a two-way conversation, not an interrogation.

Example: You want to know about my skills and experience? Have you not got my CV?

12 things you should never do at an interview


5. You’re not being yourself

Although exaggerating (see also: lying) in a job application can be tempting – it’s never a good idea.

In fact, even a tiny white lie can weave a tangled web when it comes to explaining yourself at an interview. For example, bragging about your fictional ‘advanced skills in coding’ might seem like a harmless claim at the time…until you’re asked to translate languages, or worse, build a webpage whilst face-to-face with a recruiter.

So to make sure you’re showing the best (and most genuine) parts of your abilities, focus on what you can do. And if your experience doesn’t match up perfectly? Think transferable skills.

Example: Statistical analysis and data reconfiguration? Yeah, I’m a pro…

What not to do in your CV


6. Your CV is hard to digest

Not getting any interviews? Check your CV.

Even if you’re the best person for the job, a poorly structured CV could be affecting your chances of being considered. In other words, presentation matters.

So before you send off your application, check that it follows a logical order, has a professional font, and includes bullet points where possible. Complex graphics, long paragraphs, and life stories should be avoided at all times.

Example: *long-winded section of text without any headings or bullet points that includes way too much information and no one really wants to waste time reading*

Size matters: How to keep your CV short and sweet

CV layout: Dos and don’ts


7. You’re not backing up your abilities

Anyone can say they’re good at something, but only the best candidates can prove it.

Because let’s face it, saying you’re goal-oriented won’t impress a recruiter unless it’s backed up with real evidence. How have you met goals in the past? What were the results? And how can you bring these expertise to your prospective employer?

Answer these questions in addition to things like tasks, duties, and impressive sounding adjectives, and you’ll be far more likely to go further in your application.

Example: I’m a hard worker.

STAR technique: What you need to know


8. You’re not proof reading your CV

Nothing negates your ‘strong attention to detail’ like a spelling mistake (and/or a severe confusion between their, they’re, and there) in your CV.

After all, if you can’t demonstrate your skills in your application – how will you do it in a job?

So to ensure your abilities aren’t disguised by bad grammar, always proof read your CV more than once. Asking a friend or family member to double check it is also a good way to spot mistakes you may have missed.

Example: I’m interested in pursuing a vacancy at [wrong company name].

Common grammar mistakes to avoid on your CV

What recruiters are really looking for in your CV


Honourable mentions: you’re always apologising, your CV is too long, you’re not refreshing your CV.



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