Mistakes don’t go over well when you’re job searching, so it’s best to avoid job search mistakes. Even a spelling mistake is enough to knock you out of the running for a job in a competitive job market. Job searching is all about being careful. Be careful about what you write, what you say, how you apply, and pitch your qualifications to employers. Done right, it will help you get hired. Done wrong, you’ll make your job search much more of a challenge. Here are some of the most common mistakes job seekers make so you can avoid making them!
Before starting your job search, clearly define what you want out of your next job to avoid job search mistakes.
Is flexibility important? What about salary? Do you want a fully remote role or to go into the office a few days a week? The more you know about what you want out of a job, the better you’ll be able to hone in and narrow down your search. Knowing the details before you start your search saves you time and energy. Only apply to the jobs that you’re a good fit for and want to do.
A potential employer is pressed for time and needs to make quick but educated decisions about which candidates to call in for an interview. But all they have are two pieces of paper — a resume and a cover letter. In addition to enthusiasm and professionalism, they are also looking for cover letters that show the applicant has taken the time to research their company and articulates how the person will be an asset within that specific role.
If you’re sending out the same generic cover letter, you’re not doing that, and that might be why you aren’t getting interviews. Adapt your cover letter for each company so hiring managers can see that you took the time to learn about their company and how you’d be a great fit. Don’t be a serial applicant at the same company unless you’re legitimately qualified. Be sure your cover letter for each position addresses and explains that. Don’t submit the same cover letter and resume for multiple positions within the same company.
Researching the company shows your ability to take action and initiative on your own. You will also want to research the company’s reputation as a great place to work before applying. Learn about the company culture to figure out if you’ll enjoy working at the company, too.
As a bonus, you can take any information you learn during your research and use it in your cover letter and resume. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re interested in the job and the company culture instead of making job search mistakes and just saying you are.
The job market is full of qualified applicants, so job search mistakes can be detrimental. That means you need to be persistent if you want to hear from the recruiter or hiring manager. The odds of your application naturally rising to the top of the pile without any additional work on your part are slim, so what can you do to stand out? A week after you submit your resume, send a follow-up email reiterating your interest in the position if you haven’t heard anything. If you’ve interviewed, always send a thank-you note. It’s an impactful gesture that will help get you noticed.
Job searching can be difficult at times, but to avoid job search mistakes, you always want to maintain a professional and polished attitude when communicating with any company. Wait at least one week to contact a company after applying, and make sure that you’re pleasant and upbeat when following up on job applications.
One of the most common job searches mistakes is sending out a “standard” or “template” cover letter and resume. You know what those are. Fill-in-the-blank cover letters lack real passion and quality and do not help the hiring manager picture you in the role. Send out fewer job applications and instead focus on customizing each resume, tailoring each cover letter for every position, and conveying your desire to work for the company. Give specific examples of what you can do for the employer and how you’ll accomplish it.
It’s also vital that you know your worth. While that does mean knowing your salary requirements, knowing your worth also means understanding what you bring to the company. For example, say you’ve only worked for large, private, for-profit companies, but now you want to work for a nonprofit because you want to support the mission. Why should the company hire you? What value will you add to their company? Is it your outstanding work with managing budgets? Your ability to sleuth out financial inefficiencies? Whatever it is, know your strengths and explain how you will be an asset to the company.
While taking a job search break can be a good idea, don’t give up entirely. Start by taking a deep dive into your work history and identifying your transferable skills. Maybe you don’t have exactly what the employer is looking for, but you’ve got similar enough skills that you’d still be an excellent fit for the role.
Take those skills and highlight them on your cover letter and resume, explaining to the employer how you’ll put these skills to work. You can also attend some webinars or stay social by connecting with friends and family so you don’t find yourself in a job search bubble. Create a job search plan with milestones and check-ins to help keep you on track and accountable.
Whether you think it’s valid or not, employers generally have reasons for asking specific questions or for detailed information. Not following the hiring directions certainly won’t make the employer confident that you’ll follow directions if they hire you. Take your time and apply with care. Read the job posting over carefully, and make sure you follow the instructions.
If they ask specific questions, make sure you address those in the cover letter. If the company reaches out to you via email, read it carefully. It’s completely acceptable to ask for clarification when needed, but before you fire off an email asking a question, look back at all your information to ensure the potential employer didn’t answer it.
Don’t make character-damaging job search mistakes. The chances are excellent that the less-than-honest information you gave will catch up to you. The long-term implications are not worth the short-term benefits.
Feedback is always hard to hear, no matter how constructively or positively it’s presented. But, no matter how uncomfortable, learning from feedback is the best way to grow. While you may not want to solicit feedback actively, listen to the feedback and see the points when you receive it. Then take that input and incorporate it into what you’re doing.
The critical thing to remember is that a job search is a journey that can take time. There may be bumps along the way, but if you course-correct now, your journey to a new job will take less time and be more fruitful.
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