Ten dos and don’ts when applying for a job | Western Cape Government

Ten dos and don’ts when applying for a job

Applying for a job can be stressful. You can find yourself caught between optimism about the jobs you've applied for and stress that you may not get a job at all.

There are, however a couple of things you can do to improve your chances of being employed.  We spoke to Maxeen Bremer, a recruitment specialist, about the 10 dos and don’ts you should remember when applying for a job.


10 Dos and don'ts for a successful job application.

  1. Read the job advertisement. “I currently have a situation where I placed a job advertisement for a suitable candidate in Cape Town and people in Johannesburg have been calling me”, Maxeen said. While you may really want a job, make sure you meet all the requirements to avoid rejection.
  2. Have a well-planned CV. "I’m a recruiter and go through 50 or more CVs a day". As a recruitment specialist, Maxeen advises job seekers to keep their CVs short and to the point.
  3. Prepare yourself. When you apply for a job, do lots of research. "Be knowledgeable and ask a lot of questions about the company, Google the company and the person who will be interviewing you”. The more you know, the better your chances of employment can be, Maxeen added.
  4. Use bulleted lists on your cover letter. Many recruiters don't read cover letters as they are often lengthy. “Keep your cover letter short, about 100 words, and use bullet points instead. Remember, your CV is not a book.”
  5. Create an easy-to-read CV. If your CV is not appealing to a company, they will not bother reading it. Maxeen receives CVs that are often typed in capitals. “Ensure that your CV is easy to read, have dates of your experience and education in chronological order, and always spell check to ensure that you have no grammatical errors”.
  6. Be descriptive. When you list your experience at previous jobs, give lots of details. "While you add details, take care to keep it short. You need to "sell" yourself".
  7. Show up with your best attitude. If you’re having a bad day, ensure that you don’t bring negativity to the interview, instead be friendly. Perseverance and tenacity is always a good back-up with experience.
  8. Apply online. While you may have found employment using newspapers 10 years ago, there are many online bases that can help you find employment. Technology has allowed for so much more. Social networks like LinkedIn increase your chances of employment, as recruiters often search the network to find new employees.
  9. Include contactable references in your CV. Before you consider listing someone as a reference, make sure that they know that you’re listing them.
  10. Be flexible. When you apply for a job, you may not get what you want. There may be other vacancies within the company, if you do your best with your CV and your interview, who knows, you may get something even better!


male conducting interview

  1. Lie. “Don't lie about your experience, we do credit and background checks. If you lie, you'll definitely not be employed. Be honest; tell the interviewer whether you’ve had any experiences in the past that may influence your chances of employment”, Maxeen advised.
  2. Be lazy. If you want to create a good impression, you need to let the person reading your CV know that you’ve done your homework. Each time you apply for a job, change your CV so that it suits the job application.
  3. Include unnecessary information. “When you list your personal information, I only need to know your ID number, contact details and whether you can drive”, Maxeen added. You don’t need to include your religion or other personal information unless otherwise specified to do so.
  4.  Skip the details. You may have prepared a good CV for your job application but when you email your CV or apply online, your CV can be rejected. “If you’re emailing your CV, have a good subject line; tell the person who you are and what job you’re applying for”. The person reading your email may have 100 other messages to read so ensure that your email is detailed and stands out.
  5. Forget to read. When you write your objective line at the top of your CV, remember to read the job advertisement first. For instance, if the employer asks for someone who is “hard-working” make sure you mention this. “It will capture my attention first as I know what I am looking for”.
  6. Dress badly. When you have a job interview, dress appropriately. Wear sensible shoes and clothes that are clean and ironed. First impressions count, so look professional.
  7. Be afraid to follow up. “If you have sent your CV or gone for a job interview, you can follow up after a week”. Following up will show that you’re interested and it makes you stand out. Don't, however, pester the employer.
  8. Forget to breathe. Nerves are good; they keep you on your toes. Try breathing exercises to keep calm throughout the interview.
  9. Be negative. At your job interview ensure that you do not gossip about former employees or argue with the interviewer.
  10. Forget to watch your phone. If you are applying for a job, make sure you have provided the correct contact details and that you answer your phone. “Be contactable. If I can’t get hold of you, I may move on to the next applicant”

Following these tips won’t necessarily get you a job, but they could help improve your chances. Remember, each job sector is different so make sure you do your research before you apply for the job you're aiming for. 

Do you need help creating a good CV? Visit this page for some helpful tips on how to create a CV that stands out from the rest. 

You can view available jobs in the Western Cape Government. Remember that you will first need to register online to submit your online application. 

The content on this page was last updated on 19 January 2017