two feet standing next to a stop sign

5 things you should never do when applying for a job

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There’s a lot of chatter about what you should do when you’re applying for a job. I’m here to tell you what not to do.

bird shaking its head saying no

1.  Don’t use the same resume for every job
It’s easy to attach the same resume to every job you apply for. This also makes it easy for a business to drop your resume in the bin. If you don’t tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for you won’t get an interview.

2. Don’t ignore the job ad
Use the same words in your resume that are in the job ad. This makes it easy for the business to match your resume to what they’re looking for.

magnifying glass over job ad

3. Don’t use ‘To Whom It May Concern’
Everyone loves the sound of their own name. If you address your cover letter To Whom It May Concern, you won’t get an interview. When you’re applying for a job, call up the business and find out who is looking to hire. Put their name on your cover letter. It shows initiative and you’ll make an impression by getting in touch.

4. Don’t forget to do your research
When applying for a job, research the organisation. Go online or walk past their business. Find out what they do. See how you can match your skills to what they do. Then write about this in your cover letter and resume.

woman with fingers crossed

5. Don’t despair
It’s really hard to stay upbeat when you don’t have a job. When you are applying for a job, think about how great it would be to work there. Think about the way a job could change your life. It can help you stay in a good headspace when you’re looking for work. Get more tips on your job search.


Images: iStock, giphy


  1. Agree with other users comments re “impersonal” process of job applications in general.
    After being in the workforce 30+ years, and now being redundant I am seeing so many auto-email replies where it is clearly stated “we won’t bother to contact you unless you get an interview”. I even had one employer run me through the application process and I got “second place to an internal applicant” (in their words). Two weeks later the exact same job was re-advertised, I re-applied and I did not even get so much as a return call or reply for requested feedback, and this was one of our top 100 companies (not some fly by night mob).

    Kind of leaves you wondering “If I acted this way how far would I get”?

    Also makes you wonder how these organisations can claim “equality”, “inclusion”, “diversity” and the like when they clearly lack even the most rudimentary communication skills!

    combine automated resume “scanners” with recruitment groups who aim purely for target numbers and then throw on top a layer of corporate masking (see last sentence) and it really doesn’t leave that much in the way of genuine recruitment options out there.

  2. Lol, you guys really dont gave a clue. Maybe you should employ people who genuinely care about the job seeker? You sit in your jobs and pump out useless information that doesn’t actually help job seekers. It’s condescending and vauge. Go and interview a long term job seeker and see what they have to go through. Think about how you would feel if someone gave you this advice? Would it actually help you gain employment? You are public servants, not journalists. Stop writing fluff pieces.

  3. No offence Ray, the employment system does not work like you think it does. It’s becoming quite rare to apply for a job where you know who the actual employer is.

    I almost never apply for work through agencies, because they are mostly clueless numpties, and otherwise fake.

    Its interesting that the highest proportion of fake jobs are on the jobactive site. So many “mystery shopper” and WOOFER fake job ads.

    Its kind of hilarious that this government uses these fake jobs in statistics when they talk about available work in Australia.

    After 20+ years of being blamed for getting cancer, I’m prepared to call this whole employment system as fake. Change my mind.

    1. Hi Rod, no offence taken! We love a robust discussion here. Totally understand it’s hard to customise a CV if the employer isn’t revealed in the job ad. Then, you can only try to match your skills to the ones the job ad is looking for. That’s where key words become important, I’ve just written something about this which may help. In terms of fake job ads, we have very strict protocols on what kind of job ads we allow on the site. Fake jobs aren’t included in the official stats we pass on. As for the employment system, it can be better and that’s why we’re working on things to improve it. I’d be the first to admit it’s not as flexible or helpful as it could be. While I can’t change people’s attitudes or responses to people with cancer (I’m sorry people are so disgraceful) I can genuinely try to help people find a job. It’s hard when there’s one job for every seven people out of work, but we’re here to help.

  4. Got to say that the way Jobs are applied for today is very impersonal. Would be so much easier to find the job I need if I could put in my post code and do a radius to search. You don’t even know which zone is the one your address might be in. I need to work half an hour from home for personal reasons and its difficult looking through so many jobs to find the needles in the proverbial haystack!

  5. Useless advice with today’s jobs searching being almost completely though a labour hire or recruitment company’s that tells you hardly anything about the job or who it is with. How do you research a job that does not say much about the company you will be working for. I want to work and have been for the past 10 years but now I’m unemployed and finding it very hard to even get a interview.

  6. Firstly, a lot of organisations do not even give you their name let alone their personal name. They list themselves with a recruitment service (who do not tell you their client’s name so you do not even know what company you’re applying to, so doing research is impossible.) Some organisations list themselves as Private Advertisers so this doesn’t help either. Secondly, a lot of organisations want to know your estimated desired income. What a stupid question when I do not know who I am working for, what the actual job entails, if I am going to get any other benefits, where they are even located and most jobs do not even advertise what the specific hours of work will be. It is so difficult looking for a job these days. Too much cyberspace anomalies where an app that doesn’t even know me, determines I’m not suited instead of face to face encounters.

    1. Hi Suzanne, you raise some very good points. You can do some quality assurance on a recruitment service to make sure it is legitimate.

      But I know I have certainly had my details captured for marketing before – I have applied, or at least thought I was applying for a job and all I got was endless calls asking me to sign up to do a course. After that experience I was a lot more skeptical when I dealt with recruiters.

      The most important thing is just to make sure you think the job and the employer are legitimate before you share your details. If you’re not comfortable, or if your instincts tell you something is not right, it is best to be cautious.

      You can always use the Report this job feature if you have concerns about any job advertised on the jobactive website.


      1. I agree with Suzanne, it is so hard applying for work these days. I went to an interview with a recruitment service – 1 hour drive to interview, 15 min interview, 1 hour drive back home, – I don’t know which job the interview was for as they could only tell me a few things in the ad. I am applying for lots of jobs that require those things. I have had to do online assessments, so a computer can say yes or no to me. Job applications have become very impersonal. No sit down interview with the person you will be working for, face to face. Suzanne, I agree, how can we say how much we want to be paid if we don’t know who we are working for and the full details of the position. I am finding it so frustrating having to talk to these recruitment services. Just because we are unemployed does not make us non-people, being unemployed is waiting for your mobile to ding at you to let you know you have another online assessment to do, you missed out on that job or another phone interview.

    2. Indeed, indeed! There is just too much anonymity in online job ads, and I would have never entered my (true) details, had I not been forced to by this mad system, which includes “You’d better look for a job or we’ll cut off your welfare and make you homeless, ya bludging scoundrel.”

    3. You usually don’t even know what the pay might be, which often shows that you wont get what you expect to get.

  7. thanks these hints of job searching, but not really enough to get the key of success, and we never know about what are these potential principles they hunt.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Let us know what kind of information you would find useful so we can take it into account when we’re writing our blogs.

    1. I don’t think I am ever going to get full time work again, Raymond, but, thanks for the tips. WOW careers website have locked me out at applying for any Woolworths Supermarkets jobs until the 28th Nov 2019,. Simply because I answered a question wrongly, and for that penalty I have been locked out for a 12 month period by their HR recruitment office. As, I live in a small country town where there is only 2 bigger retail stores (Coles Express and Woolworths Group), it does not leave me much choice in regards to job seeking. I will just have to annoy Coles Express for a job until WOW careers unlock date 28th Nov.2019 ends. Cheers!

      1. I have had similar issues. It seems rather common now days to automatically reject future resumes at a company if you have already been rejected. As you first start job hunting, you will make mistakes with your resume. And these mistakes get you blocked for 12 months?! It would save Centrelink money in the long run, to get everyone a professionally written resume that might cost a couple of hundred dollars, if it meant that your resume would be getting read and not automatically rejected.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Abe. What kind of stories would you be interested in reading, or what kind of information would you find helpful? It’s important to us that our readers get value from our blog, so your suggestions are always welcome.

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