Career Advice Job Searching Tips

Job Search Mistakes You Might Be Making

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By: Kaylyn McKenna
Aug 27, 2020 • 8 min read

Job Search Mistakes You Might Be Making

Right now, there are a lot of qualified candidates looking for new jobs. So, it’s more important than ever to make yourself stand out to recruiters! Below you’ll find several job search mistakes that a lot of candidates make. Take a look and make sure you’re not hurting your job search by doing any of these!

job search mistakes

Having an Unfocused Resume

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon to have a side gig or two or to hold multiple jobs at once. Or to change careers and end up with a lot of seemingly irrelevant roles in your work history. Listing all of these on your resume can make it lengthy and clutter. Your resume should tell a story; the story of your growth and development in your industry. If a position overlaps with others and doesn’t contribute to that story, feel free to exclude it, mainly if it was reasonably short-term. When including broader job positions such as Office Assistant or Retail Associate, think about what duties you performed that could relate to your intended role and be sure to include those on your resume.

Keep it Concise

You can’t fit the full job description on your resume. So, craft a description that shows the most relevant duties or job skills for your intended career field. Similarly, think about how to frame your experiences to show progression in your field. Include accomplishments such as increasing sales, creating new processes, or contributing to a successful project. You can also include activities that display leadership, such as training other associates.

Letting Your Resume Sell You Short

Often job seekers leave off relevant activities from their resume, particularly recent graduates or those looking for their first job. This can be one of the biggest jobs search mistakes! As mentioned above, you don’t want to just throw anything and everything on your resume, but if your volunteer work or side gig is relevant to the roles that you’re applying for, feel free to add it in. Recent graduates should also feel free to include student positions held. This can consist of work-study jobs as well as positions held in a university club or greek organization.

Not Writing a Cover Letter

Remember that the recruiter likely has many applications to sort through – possibly hundreds. The easiest way for your application to get overlooked is to skip the cover letter. The cover letter is your opportunity to set yourself apart from the pack and describe what unique talents you could bring to the role and to display your enthusiasm. Tell the hiring manager why they should choose to interview you. A large number of candidates skip over this section entirely, as it’s often not marked as mandatory on applications. Still, in such a competitive job market, you should be taking every opportunity to impress potential employers.

Applying With a Generic Cover Letter

This is better than skipping the cover letter altogether, but it still likely won’t properly convey your qualifications and your interest in the job. If your resume described every job skill you possess, the class you’ve taken, and software you’ve ever used, it would be far too long, and no single cover letter can encompass them all either. That’s why personalizing your cover letter for each job to address specific items mentioned is the best approach. Have a few templates describing more general items that you’ll want to mention each time, then you can quickly customize to fit each role. A customized cover letter lets you address why you’re a great fit, even if you don’t check every box. A lot of companies hire for fit and are willing to be flexible on the requirements if you display enthusiasm and a willingness to learn.

job search mistakes

Examine Your Experiences

If you don’t have a lot of formal experience, but you’ve acquired some of their desired job skills through classes or extra-curricular activities, include that. If it’s your first job in a specific field, let them know why you’re passionate about that field and looking to break into it. It is also helpful to research the company and share a few reasons why you’d like to work there. What about the role and the company excites you? Do you shop at this company or use their products? Do you align with their mission statement? Let them know that you’ve put thought into your application and job search.

Not Following Application Instructions

The fastest way to make a bad first impression is to not follow directions. It’s also the easiest mistake to circumvent; you simply need to read the job posting thoroughly. Did they ask you to answer specific questions in your cover letter? Did they request links to a writing or design sample? Make sure you are submitting everything requested, not doing so can give the impression to employers that you did not put effort into your application. Show them that you’re excited about the opportunity and willing to invest time into putting your best foot forward.

job search mistakes

Pay Attention to Detail

Potential employers want to see that you pay attention to detail and can follow directions. Don’t skip over questions when writing your resume! This is one of the major job search mistakes you will want to avoid. Employment applications can be cumbersome – especially when you’re doing many of them a day, but don’t rush through them. Be sure that you are submitting work that you can be proud of.

Following Up Incorrectly

It’s also important to make a note of any comments or requests made regarding follow-up. Sometimes job postings will include a line requesting that candidates do not call the business regarding the job posting. If the company has asked that you not call, they likely have a reason. For example, the establishment may be looking for another Receptionist or Customer Service Representative because they are currently short-staffed and having trouble keeping up with incoming calls. Having candidates calling in would exacerbate the problem.

Reaching Out

It’s also possible that the Recruiter or Hiring Manager overseeing the recruitment for that position works at a corporate or regional office and is not onsite to take calls. If this is the case, try to find an email to reach out to instead or utilize LinkedIn. If you have a connection to the company, have them put in a good word and check on the status on your behalf.

How do you avoid the most common job search mistakes? Let us know on our social media accounts!

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