Beware: 5 common application mistakes to avoid!

I have read through a lot of student applications in my time. And I mean A LOT. More often than not I end up giving unsuccessful applicants very similar feedback. So last month I found myself in a very familiar situation whilst reading through applications for our new QConsult supported by J.P. Morgan programme.

The  programme places teams of Queen Mary students into paid mini-consultancy projects with East London businesses, prioritising students who are bursary holders. As a brand new programme we were thrilled to receive so many high-calibre applications for our first round of consultancy projects. However, this meant that even good applications with small mistakes had to be rejected in order to ensure the strongest applicants made it through to the assessment centre phase. In an effort to make sure you don’t make those same mistakes in your next application, I’ve written a list of the most common reasons why applicants weren’t shortlisted. My best advice is to take these tips on board when completing your next job application.

students 2

1. Check your spelling and grammar. A large number of applications had multiple spelling and grammatical errors. Keep in mind that many employers will simply disregard any applications with spelling, grammatical or typo errors, particularly if the role involves writing or client communication of any kind. Always read through applications very carefully before submitting them. It is also a good idea to ask a friend or family member to read through your applications as they may spot errors that you have overlooked.

2. Be detail-oriented. Many applications referred to the programme using the wrong name (i.e. qConsult, Q-Consultant, JPMorgan QConsult, QProjects, QInternships, QTemps, etc.). I know this sounds small but in future applications always ensure that you refer to the company, role, industry, programme, etc. exactly as they do in the job description. This illustrates attention to detail and accuracy which are very important in all graduate roles.

3. Follow instructions. Always follow application instructions very carefully. Many applicants missed ticking boxes, completing fields or answering entire questions on the application form. Some of their written answers did not address the questions that had been asked at all. Again, this illustrates attention to detail, thought and accuracy.

4. Keep your writing simple and straightforward. In regards to written answers, keep in mind that employers will often be reading through tens to hundreds of applications. Keep your answers as straightforward, structured and easy to read as possible. One way to do this is to ensure you use professional and clear language. Avoid colloquial or overly flowery words or phrases.

5. Back it up with evidence. When appropriate use evidence to back up any statements. Instead of just saying ‘I am a great communicator’, say something like, ‘My work at X company involved communicating daily with clients and colleagues via email, phone and in person’.

Lastly, don’t forget that you can get your applications and CV’s checked in the Careers & Enterprise Centre before you submit then. You can book an appointment here:

Now good luck!

Lindsey Shirah

Programme Manager, QConsult supported by J.P. Morgan


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