Unfortunately, there is no room for mistakes during job searches. In a competitive job search, something as little as a typo, or not sending a follow-up email can be the difference between getting an interview or never hearing from that company.
Knowing what mistakes to avoid can help make sure you start your job search off on the right foot.
1. Including irrelevant information on your resume or cover letter
Your resume should be clear, concise, and relevant to the job posting. Avoid these mistakes:
- Using a non-traditional font
- Going over one or two pages because you included work experience that doesn’t relate or every skill and accomplishment you have
- Exaggerating your work experience or skill level
- Including hobbies, save these for during the interview instead
- Not including or putting the wrong contact information
- Not including keywords that match the job posting
Your cover letter should not just be a repeat of your resume. Take this as an opportunity to go in-depth about a relevant work experience to further show your skills or goal completion. Avoid these mistakes as well:
- Putting the wrong company name
- Using the same cover letter for every company you apply to
- Not breaking up paragraphs
- Not expressing that you want the job
2. Dressing inappropriately for an interview
You want to make sure to show the interviewer that you are able to fit in at the company through your outfit, even if you are applying for a position that wears a uniform. Your outfit is the first thing the interviewer will notice of you, so make a great first impression!
- Research the company dress code and what employees wear
- Don’t underdress or overdress
- Keep your outfit simple
3. Saying the wrong thing during an interview or lying
Interviews are nerve-wracking, and sometimes when you’re nervous you forget what to say or start rambling on and say things you shouldn’t. You’re only human, however, in an interview that can make all the difference.
Make sure never to speak badly of a previous employer, team member, or guest, instead talk about the lessons a negative situation taught you and how you made the best of it.
Don’t ever lie about experience or real-life examples during an interview. If they hire based on a skill you pretended to have or how well you handled a make-believe situation, you may be put in a situation again at your new job and fall short because you don’t have the experience or the skillset. Instead, express interest in wanting to learn to become a better employee once hired.
4. Lacking preparation
Showing up to an interview (or joining a video interview) unprepared will be obvious to the interviewer and will likely result in you not getting called back. You want to make sure you bring extra resume copies, a document with your references, and a pen just in case.
5. Forgetting to follow-up
One of the most important steps during your job search is to follow up. Whether it’s to find out the status of your application, after an interview, or even after the company tells you that they are moving forward with another candidate.
Send a quick email thanking anyone and everyone you talk to over the phone, meet with in-person or video that you appreciate their time and hope to be considered for the position. This will show your interest and excitement for the opportunity and help you build relationships.
It may even help open doors to other opportunities if this particular one doesn’t work out. They can become a great networking connection.
6. Making typos or using the wrong time
Typos on a resume, cover letter, application, email, or even your professional social media are such a small detail that can have a huge cost. If it comes down to you and one other candidate, something as small as a typo can be the reason they choose the other candidate. Always double-check your documents, if possible, have someone else read through them before hitting send.
When sending an email double check that you are using the correct name to reply to someone. Especially if your phone or computer autocorrect for you. It may change the name without you realizing it.
7. Not asking questions during the interview
Another way to really show your interest in the company and the position is to ask your interviewer questions. Prepare a few questions ahead of time to ask at the end of each interview, even if you don’t have anything additional you need to be answered.
You are only human, and mistakes happen, and employers are aware of that. It may not cost you the job opportunity, but if you happen to make one, just take it as a learning moment and make sure not to repeat it moving forward in your job search.