13 Job Search Mistakes You Might Not Even Realize You’re Making

Maddie Lloyd
by Maddie Lloyd
Get The Job, Guides - 12 months ago
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When you’re in the middle of a job hunt, one mistake could mean getting the job, or being totally removed from the hiring process. Even something like a bad handshake or just having poor interview etiquette can totally ruin your chances of getting a job — even if you have all the right qualifications and experience.

Here’s the deal:

Trying to get a job can be challenging, and with so many things that can go wrong, it’s important that you do everything right. There are so many mistakes you could be making along the way that are so common — you might not even realize you’re making them!

With that in mind, these are the 13 most common job search mistakes you could making, and how to avoid them:

1. Having too much information on your resume and cover letter

There’s really no need to list every single job you’ve ever had, your high school graduation, every course you took in college, and what you like to do in your spare time. You only have a few seconds to make an impression, so you’ll want it to be that you’re focused and concise, not that you overshare and have no editing skills.

Employers just want the good stuff — they want to know your best qualifications as quickly as possible. Tell them what you can do for the company on day one. You can go more into detail during the interview.

2. Not tailoring your resume to match the job qualifications

Your resume needs to show employers that you’re the perfect, or as close to perfect as possible, person for the job. This means that you’re going to have to edit your resume for every job you apply for, and make sure that you reflect the job requirements in your qualifications and experience.

You might be a fantastic square dancer, but that won’t matter if the employer is looking for someone who’s good at math. Instead of talking up your dancing skills, describe how your perfect understanding of geometry has allowed you to choreograph an award-winning square dance routine.

If you can show employers that you’re perfectly suited for the position, you’re sure to land an interview.

3. Including an objective statement on your resume

In all honesty, objective statements are outdated. Plus, they just take up prime resume real estate that could otherwise be used to show an employer how awesome you are.

With that in mind, just leave it out and focus on your experience and accomplishments. The only instance where a resume objective would be needed is if you’re making a big career change, and your experience doesn’t perfectly line up with the position.

4. Having typos on your resume and cover letter

There’s no easier way to get yourself screened out of the hiring process than to send in a resume or cover letter that’s loaded down with typos and grammatical errors.

Have someone else read your resume — it’s easier for others to find errors because they haven’t been staring at the same page for days on end.

If you’re an awful person and don’t have any friends to look over your resume, temporarily change your font, or read your resume from bottom to top. Switching up the format can open your eyes to errors you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

5. Using a generic cover letter for every job you apply for

Talk about a rookie move. Sending the same cover letter to every job you apply for basically just tells them, “I couldn’t care less about getting a job at your company and this job prospect means absolutely nothing to me.”

Writing a specific cover letter for each position will help you focus on the specific job and company at hand. You’ll be able to more clearly their concerns and requirements, and you’ll be able to show genuine interest.

And before you ask, yes, they can tell — especially if you forgot to change the name of the company you’re addressing in your letter.

6. Making your cover letter a paragraph form of your resume

If you’re using your cover letter to basically regurgitate everything that’s on your resume, you should probably just start completely over.

Your resume is the first thing most employers look at, so you’re just wasting everyone’s time if you use your cover letter to write out every single thing they’ve already seen an abbreviated version of.

7. Dressing inappropriately for the Interview

Showing up to your interview looking like a slob, or even being underdressed, will definitely make you stand out — in a bad way. It’s important to show your professionalism in your attire, so look into the company culture and learn how to dress for the interview.

8. Not having a list of references

You should always have a sturdy list of references on hand when you’re in the midst of a job hunt. Employers will probably check in with them, so want to have a good set of people who can speak highly of your qualifications.

You should always check in with your references before providing an employer with their contact information instead of completely blindsiding them. Here’s everything you need to know about asking someone for a reference.

9. Getting to the interview late, or showing up way too early

There’s no reason why you should ever be late to an interview. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview with a few minutes to spare. This will show that you’re professional and not an inconsiderate jerk.

On the other hand, you don’t want to show up too early. When you get to your interview 20, 30, or 40 minutes early, you risk putting pressure on the interviewer to drop whatever they’re doing and deal with you.

Aim to get to your interview 10-15 minutes early, and you’ll be good to go.

10. Not doing background research on the company before the interview

If the interview asks you “What do you know about our company?” and your only response is a blank stare, you probably won’t get the job.

Check out the company website and read up on their mission, history, core values, and any recent news worthy events. This will show them that you actually care, plus, you can decide for yourself if you’d enjoy working for their company.

11. Saying mean things about your former employers

Even if you feel that you were fired unjustly from a former position, you should never, ever bad mouth your previous boss. It just shows that you’re immature and unprofessional. Plus, the interviewer may worry that you’ll say the same things about their company in the future.

Even if you hate your former boss with the burning passion of a thousand suns, stay neutral and positive. Focus on what you’ve learned from each job experience and what you plan to do in the future.

12. Not having questions to ask the interviewer

Every job interview ends with the inevitable question “Do you have any questions for me?” You should always go into the interview with a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer about the company and their goals.

Some questions you can ask are:

  • ”What does a typical workday look like?”
  • ”What is your favorite part of working here?”
  • ”Can you tell me a little about the history of this position?”

Just remember, the only wrong answer to this question is “No.”

13. Forgetting to follow up with the hiring manager in a timely manner

Even if you’re the busiest person on the planet, you should always set aside time to send a follow up letter or a thank you letter within one business day of your interview.

Sending a thank you note thanking the interviewer for their time will show that you’re genuinely interested in the position, and that you’re not just a big inconsiderate jerk who lacks all professionalism. Just do yourself a favor and send a dang thank you email.

Now you know how to search for jobs without making a fool of yourself!

Search for the right job is hard enough on its own, you don’t want to unknowingly make a mistake that could completely derail your chances of getting the job of your dreams.

Now that you know which mistakes to avoid, you’ll surely be able to make a good impression on employers and get the job!