We all make mistakes-that's what makes us human. But when you're looking for a new job, it's important to minimize those application mistakes because it may cost you the position.
Here are some of the biggest job application mistakes candidates make (and how to avoid them):
These types of errors, although they seem small in nature, can be a major red flag to employers. (In fact, I recently wrote about how a small spelling or speaking error can become embarrassing for both the candidate and hiring manager on my company's blog.) It shows you lack attention to detail, and many hiring managers or recruiters will think you rushed through your application.
How to avoid this mistake: Take your time filling out applications and have someone else look it over if possible. Print out your answers and read them aloud to catch anything you may miss while scanning through on the computer.
Not following directions.
This is something everyone learns in grade school, but it's amazing how many people STILL don't read directions! Every application you fill out will be slightly different or require a different response-so it's important to read through each step.
How to avoid this mistake: Pay attention and slow down during the application process. If you're feeling rushed, it's probably because you're applying to too many openings that you may not be qualified for, so you may want to re-think your strategy.
Turning in a résumé you haven't tailored to the position.
This is a big no-no. It shows you don't really understand what the employer is looking for and are just hoping your resume fits some of the criteria.
How to avoid this mistake: Carefully read through the job description, qualifications, and education requirements. Show the employer through your résumé how you fit into those through your previous experience, skills, and expertise.
Writing a generic cover letter that doesn't emphasize what you can do for the company.
Your cover letter should tell a compelling story and make the hiring manager interested in moving on to your résumé. It should also address the hiring manager by name and describe exactly why you are the best candidate for the position.
How to avoid this mistake: Write a new cover letter for each position you're applying for. Although there may be similarities, always tailor your cover letter to the opening.
Not going beyond the job description.
It's imperative that you research the organization at which you're applying. You need to know what it does, how it's structured, and its mission, values, and goals in order to determine how you fit in. Should you move on in the hiring process, these things will be vital to a successful interview-and you'll be one step ahead.
How to avoid this mistake: Perform a simple Google search on the organization. Look through their company website, LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook profiles, read reviews of the organization and its products, and browse recent news articles that mention the company.
What are some other major application mistakes you've made and/or witnessed?
Heather R. Huhman, founder & president of Come Recommended, is passionate about helping students and recent college graduates pursue their dream careers.