How to Fix Application Red Flags

April 21, 2020
Job Seeking

Virtually no one is naturally gifted at job seeking. That's why most skip the step of adopting a hiring manager's perspective when putting together an application or preparing for an interview and to their candidacy's detriment.

Taking this extra step means making their work easier and upping your chances of landing the role since hiring managers often find red flags that applicants overlook in their materials.  So before you hit submit or sit down for an interview, heed these red flags that can damage your application.


Job-hopping is a regular practice in the creative industries and not a de facto deal-breaker. Most employers won't knock you for it, but if you jump around, you’ll need to review how you frame accomplishments on your CV. If you were at a firm for less than one year, but you write about building new departments or growing the business, explain this in your cover letter. Rule of thumb is that it takes about six months for an employee to become comfortable at a company. With this in mind, you can see why hiring managers become skeptical when they read about impressive achievements in relatively brief periods of time.


Breaks in employment won't knock you out of the pool of viable candidates for a job, but you will need to explain them. Whether you've been taking care of someone who was sick, raising a family, or just haven't been able to find work, talk about what you did intermittently to keep your skills sharp. This tells us that you're pro-active, that you can adapt and learn on the job, and that you care about your development.


Just as we recommend that you minimize your use of 'I' in your cover letters, you want to emphasize your role as part of a team when sharing your successes. Not only does this prevent the (erroneous) perception of you as self-interested, but it also shows hiring managers that you work well with others. This is a 'soft skill' listings often mention.


An interview isn't solely about grilling you. It's also your chance to get more information out of them. Your questions reflect your curiosity and your respect for what they have to say. However, if you only ask preplanned questions, it deprives you of meaningful insights and can give the impression that you're less capable than you truly are of adapting to a fast-paced environment like an agency.


Not asking questions about the culture, your growth opportunities, and the day-to-day work is equally damaging. When employers look at your résumé, they want to see your dedication to your current or previous company. Evidence that you've been active in a company's culture indicates that you're committed to integrating yourself into another, even if you job hop. Wanting to know specifics about clients, campaign reports, and company history signal your seriousness. Along with your consideration for a given role's growth potential and daily work, asking about these topics helps employers trust that you want to stick with them. That makes them feel safe and confident about bringing you onboard.


Employers are investing in you just as you're investing in them, and you want to approach the application process with this in mind. Ask them specific questions about themselves and your growth potential with them, be present in your interviews, speak as a team player, and explain fast-earned achievements. Spending time in the application process thinking from a hiring manager’s perspective clears up those red flags and almost guarantees you the job.

Wishing you a successful and swift job-seeking season,

The Elysian Team