4 Tips To Make It Past The First Hiring Round

Some advice from our HR team on how to nail your next job application.

Mandy Kerr
Mandy Kerr
Jan 17, 2020
Min Read

Finding the right person for every role we advertise is one of the most important contributions I can make as a hiring manager. A company’s success hinges on the skills and abilities of a team, in combination with the way team members interact with one another. 

Here at Designlab, we look for people with the potential to add immediate value, but who will also learn and grow quickly. Each team member needs to add constructively to our team culture and strongly represent our company values. 

Recently we advertised a role in our internal team and within five days had over 1,500 applications. With that many applicants, we needed to find ways to screen candidates both fairly and quickly. This got me thinking about some advice I’d like to share for anyone on the job hunt.

Here are some things to keep top of mind when you’re submitting your next job application. These are all things we look for to qualify or disqualify candidates during our very first round of screening for a position, and likely most other hiring managers do as well.

1. Spelling counts (srsly!)

There is nothing worse than reading a great application where the applicant is insightful in their answers, relates well to the role, and clearly knows about the company, but whose work is littered with avoidable spelling errors.  

Your application is where you put your best foot forward. Check over what you’ve written and make sure it represents you and the quality of work you’re capable of producing. 

If you don’t take the time to run a quick spell check at this stage, then I start to wonder how detail-oriented and thoughtful you’re going to be with your work once you actually have the job.

And—spell the company name correctly. The company name for the position you’re applying to will almost always be referenced multiple times in the job advert, and the questions themselves.

2. Take your time on the short answers

Before we even get to looking at a resume, we look at responses to the “short-answer” questions.

We keep these questions to a minimum, as we know how time-consuming and daunting job applications can be. But what this means is that the questions we do ask really matter to us, and we’re genuinely interested in your answers. 

It counts against you if it’s obvious by your answer that you haven’t put any thought into what you’ve written, or if the answer is very generic, or if it’s an obvious copy-and-paste. 

This doesn’t mean you have to write an essay. Sometimes one or two lines can be very effective. Just make sure to answer the question in a way that showcases both who you are, and that you understand the business.

3. Double-check your’re grammar and punctuation

Attention to detail is always important to hiring managers. We expect to see it in your work, starting with your job application.

When we see “I” written as “i” or “I’m” as “Im”, we become concerned about your ability to deliver a high-quality product to customers. Of course, people make mistakes—we certainly do all the time—but careless errors are a no-no in a job application. 

As a remote company, especially, we find that the ability to communicate well asynchronously is essential.

4. Make sure you’re qualified

I’ve seen many job adverts that have requirements that don’t make sense, or which don’t seem to be strong indicators of an individual’s ability to do their job. 

It can sometimes feel like these requirements are unnecessary hurdles that are designed to simply drive the number of applications down. Being aware of this, we spend significant chunks of time evaluating the requirements we choose for each of our job adverts. 

We believe that nothing we list is irrelevant. For that reason, we do filter out any candidate who does not meet the stated requirements. We know that job hunting is hard, and we commit to treating each application with the care and respect it deserves. 

Make sure you stand out by painting a genuine picture of why you want to work for the company you’re applying to, and why you, specifically, are the best candidate.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck in your next job search!

Illustrations by Annie Devine

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Gain confidence using product data to design better, justify design decisions, and win stakeholders. 6-week course for experienced UX designers.