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 I spent a couple of years looking for a job. In all that time, I wrote several applications that never got me an interview and I started wondering what I was doing wrong. Sometimes, it’s not a lack of qualification that is holding you back from securing your dream job, neither is it the myth that job openings are only filled by people with connections. Sometimes, we sabotage our own luck by making some simple mistakes that hurt our chances. If you have been applying for jobs with no success, you should try out the tips below, to make quick and effective changes to your job search. Have A Cover Letter Except otherwise stated, you should always submit a cover letter with your CV. A lot of people don’t want the extra stress. We send in our Curriculum Vitae (CV) without a cover letter, to join the pile. A cover letter is a chance to further explain what has been written on your CV. It helps you to showcase your experience and how it aligns with the company’s needs. It helps you put your best foot forward. A prospective employer sees your educational and work experience on your CV, but they also see how this is useful to them in your cover letter. They see your enthusiasm and commitment,  and that sets you apart from the crowd. Proofread Your CV. This is probably the most common mistake job seekers make. Recruiters always say that grammatical errors on a CV is enough reason for them to not consider an application. Having typographical or grammatical errors portray you as a clumsy person who doesn’t care about details. Remember how you wrote “detail oriented” under the skills section of your CV? You need to show that attention to detail by first proofreading your CV. Go through every section ensuring that there are no typos, your sentences are perfect and your claims are correct. If you know that proofreading your personal work is not your strong point, hire a proofreader to do the work for you. The fee you pay will be small compared to the benefit you will get. Don’t Use A Template Recruiters can tell when you just filled a CV template with your own details, or when you collected a friend’s CV and edited it. This already portrays you as someone who doesn’t care enough about the job to put together an original CV. While it is okay to take ideas from templates and other people’s CVs, ensure that your own is unique and personalised. It shows professionalism and makes you stand out from the crowd. A lot of Nigerians get employment without knowing anyone or being “connected” at their place of work. All that may be required is for you to make changes to your job search tactics.   About the author: Amina Salau is a writer and editor running The Illuminated Pen. You can find her online at  and on Twitter (@_Aminah).

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This article was first published on 13th October 2014

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