3 ridiculous mistakes you shouldn’t be making in your job application

The second half of year is always peak period for job applications at law firms. At various times during this period, we will receive applications from local or overseas graduates, as well as those who have passed their CLP or UK Bar exams. Whenever this time of year comes around, I’m always shocked at some of the appalling job applications that I see — and it’s not just me, many fellow employers or recruitment partners share horror stories and regularly ask “how on earth did this person pass law school?”

For the benefit of current applicants, here are 3 ridiculous errors that you really shouldn’t be making:

(1) Emailing your application to more than one firm in the same email.

Yes, this happens. Too often. My firm has publicly stated that we don’t accept generic applications, so we don’t see this as much as before (the applicants have to change “To Whom It May Concern” to a specific law firm name, poor things), but the occasional one still does appear, with 10 law firms in the “To” field (at least figure out the BCC feature!).

(2) Attaching an unprofessional profile photo.

We all carry around high quality cameras with us everywhere we go these days. There’s no excuse for using a terrible photo of yourself in your job application. Please, no selfies where your arm is visibly stretched out to your smartphone, or cropped group photos with random extra shoulders and arms crowding in. Just get a friend to take a simple profile photo against a plain backdrop in good lighting.

(3) Writing a cover letter that takes up more than one page, but doesn’t say anything meaningful.

I truly appreciate applicants who take the time to craft cover letters that showcase their passions and personality. But I often get long cover letters that essentially copy-and-paste from the “About Us” page on our firm’s website, or the partner profiles. We know all about ourselves, and there’s no need for your job application to reproduce verbatim the list of awards and accolades that the firm has received. On a related note, some applicants may be surprised to discover that being the treasurer for the geography club in primary school isn’t all that impressive — please leave out the fluff.

These mistakes may seem silly and obvious, but they happen very regularly.

I’ve previously shared some tips in these articles as well:

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