11 DUMBEST MISTAKES JOB APPLICANTS MAKE
Finding a job is hard work, so don’t make it any harder on yourself. There are so many ways to lower your chances of being hired in the application process itself, and these 11 top mistakes are only scraping the surface. And if any company has strong recruiting strategies, seeing anyone commit these sins can get your job application tossed right in the bin.
1. Spelling the company’s name wrong
You’d be surprised how often this happens. Use the full name of the company, and double (even triple)-check on the company’s own website to ensure you’re correct. This is especially important with brand formatting — for example, TINYpulse is one word. If you’re unsure, look at a company blog to see how the organization refers to itself. After all, if you want to work there, you need to show the hiring manager that you know these details.
2. Sending a generic cover letter
If you’re sending the same cover letter to every job you apply to, you’re doing it wrong. An experienced HR staff and recruiters can spot a generic cover letter in their sleep. Plus, it opens you up to the added mortal sin of forgetting to change the person’s and company’s name from one cover letter to the next.
3. Not reviewing the application requirements closely enough
You’re making a huge mistake if the company asks for three samples and you send them one; or if they want your Twitter profile and you send them your Instagram; or if they want your resume and cover letter in one single PDF and you send two Word attachments. These things matter, and they’re often a test to see if you can follow directions. Pay attention.
4. Spelling and grammatical errors
When hiring managers are looking for a reason to count you out of the other dozens of resumes, a spelling or grammar mistake could set them over the edge. This is even more important if you are applying for a writing, editing, marketing, or design job.
5. Not notifying your references
If you put a name down as a reference, make sure that person has already agreed in advance. You want to ensure they aren’t going to say anything negative about you and are prepared for the eventual call.
6. Using an unprofessional email account name
No one is going to hire a manager who still uses JetsFan2015@email.com as their email address. Gmail is free — get a new, professional address with your name.
7. Giving too many personal details
Your personality should shine through in your cover letter and experiences. While personal touches can sometimes be okay, a hiring manager opening up your resume to see a quarter-page headshot and a list of 27 activities you like to do on weekends is a mistake. What they see is the space you couldn’t fill with your experience and skills.
8. Font sizes too big or too small
No hiring manager wants to use a magnifying glass or sort through eight pages of size 20 font. Keep it simple, clean, and organized.
9. Not updating your resume
If the last job you have listed on your resume ended in 2011, you need to account for those gaps in your cover letter or you’re leaving yourself open for speculation. If you just forgot to add the last job — the job you’re in now — you’re committing a major error. Same goes for jobs you have since left: they need an end date and should be referred to in the past tense or it will seem like you’re still an employee.
10. Not doing your research on the company
It will be clear in your cover letter if you don’t know what the company does. This is often a case of mass applying to open jobs based on job title — a mistake in itself — but if you call something a hardware company and they only deal in software, you’re going to the rejection pile.
11. Forgetting to change template defaults
Word and online sources have great resume and CV templates that can help, but no hiring manager is going to miss “DATE GOES HERE” on your resume when you forget to delete it.