It’s safe to say that the majority of people have applied for a job at some point in their lives. As such, many of them have also been given the same advice about what they should do in order to fill the position they’re interested in—use spell check on a resume, show up on time for the interview, etc.
Aside from the basics (that you’ve probably heard more than once), there are also a number of less common, but very important, things to avoid during the application process to increase your chances of being selected to move forward.
Take a look at this list to see if you’re guilty of any of these application faux-pas:
It’s hard to draft the perfect resume, but not impossible. Aside from making sure to stick to best practices, you should avoid:
Exaggerating your skills. Be truthful and forward about what you can and can’t do. Don’t say that you have moderate design skills if the best you can do is crop a photo or create a clip-art poster. It’s highly likely that you will be asked detailed questions about any relevant programs or applications you’ve mentioned, or to provide examples that back up your claim.
If you think your resume is too scant, try to fill it out with volunteer experience, links to appropriate samples or examples of work that you did, or by listing your references contact information instead of providing it upon request.
Ignoring application guidelines. Read through the application completely at least once before sending in your information. If the job posting requires an applicant who is willing to relocate, and you are not, then you are wasting both your time and the hiring company’s.
Instead, focus on quality postings relevant to your skills and experience. Think quality versus quantity and don’t bother applying for jobs that list requirements that you can’t meet.
Postings that are above or under your qualifications. Too much experience is often just as bad as not enough. Someone with no experience shouldn’t apply for a management position, and someone with management experience probably isn’t a fit for an entry-level opening.
Try to find jobs advertisements that match your professional expertise, experience, and education.
Providing sub-par references. If you are applying for a web development position and one of your references is from when you picked strawberries for that one summer during high school, it isn’t likely to leave a good impression.
If you don’t have professional references relevant to your education yet, ask professors, intern providers, or volunteer leaders. If you happen to freelance, be sure to ask happy clients if they can be contacted to provide a reference.
Cover Letter Blunders
Not many people actually enjoy making cover letters, but they are a necessary evil. Most employers like to see an introductory email that explains your qualifications at the very least. So what should you make sure to steer clear of when crafting yours?
Not making a cover letter at all. Cover letters have become an expectation for employers accepting applications, so if you don’t make one, you might stand out in a negative way.
If you aren’t sure how to make one, or you don’t know what to say, look at some online templates. A cover letter should outline your skills and experience, your potential value to the company, and why you are a fit for the open position.
Not customizing your cover letter. Even if you have a cover letter, you shouldn’t send the same, generic one to every job posting.
At the very least, you should make sure that you include the company name and job title in your cover letter instead of saying “your company” or “the position”.
Not researching the business. If your cover letter is a generic letter about you, employers are unlikely to bite. They want to know why you would be a good fit for the position and what you have to offer that is relevant to the company.
The only way to know about the company’s needs is to understand who they are and what they do. Check out their social pages, website, and do a quick Google search to get a feel for their writing tone and style.
You can also try to look for keywords in the job posting and reiterate them in your cover letter to show that you pay attention and that you are a good fit.
While your resume and cover letter are the most important when you’re trying to get the job you want, you should also watch your behaviour after you apply. Why? Because the hiring process isn’t over until you’ve heard back, so there’s plenty of room for error between sending in your resume and when you are called in for an interview.
After sending in your resume and cover letter, make sure that you don’t:
- Ask for an unreasonable salary. You should base your request off of local industry standards.
- Follow up too quickly or too much. One email about a week after you send a resume or have an interview is appropriate.
- Forget to send relevant, professional samples and examples related to the position.
- Send anything after a deadline has ended.
- Forget to answer all of the questions in the application or job posting.
Getting the Job
Unfortunately, even if you have the perfect resume and you ace the interview, there’s no guarantee that you will get the job, but by standing out in the application process you can leave a lasting impression on a potential employer that could benefit you in the long-term.
Stick to common-sense, take your time, and pay attention to detail when submitting applications. Weigh quality over quantity, and customize your content to benefit the most from your hard work.
What application mistakes have you made before? Are there any you have to add?