6 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

biggest mistake job seekers make

Being active on the job market can be somewhat of an overwhelming undertaking. As the old cliché goes, “it’s a full time job looking for a full time job.” While it’s ok to cut yourself some slack if you’ve been "knocking down doors" (or sending out resumes) for a while to no avail, you don’t want to get “sloppy” and start to make some of these common mistakes.

It’s worth reminding yourself that, when you’re on the job market, every single touchpoint you have with a prospective employer – from submitting your materials, to interviewing, to every single phone call, email, or interaction (including what they find on your social media) you exchange – is an opportunity for them to evaluate you. In order to make sure that evaluation is always positive and in favor of your candidacy, avoid making these whopping mistakes when you’re on the job hunt:

Errors on your job application materials

Do all that you can to avoid any kind of errors – whether typos, spelling errors, or formatting issues – in your resume or cover letter. Even though job seekers know that making a mistake on your app materials is one of the biggest no-no’s you can make when you’re on the job hunt, it’s still one of the most common complaints you’ll hear from hiring managers.

Not asking questions in the interview

If you make it to the interview stage and don’t come prepared with some thoughtful, well-researched questions for your interviewer, you’ll run the risk of coming across as disinterested in the job and grossly underprepared to discuss joining their team. But what if the interviewer has inadvertently answered all of your questions during the interview, and now you’re not sure what to ask about? Check out our list of 7 great questions you can ask at the end of any job interview here. It’s a good idea to memorize a few “fall back” questions that you can ask in any circumstance.

Not being self aware

Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and how to effectively communicate them on your job application materials and in the interview is key to being successful on the job market. In order to communicate the value and potential you bring to a new company, you have to first be self aware enough to understand the full potential of all of your strengths and capabilities.

Not doing any research on the company

This is one of the quickest ways to come across as unprepared to your interviewer. It’s unprofessional and, frankly, a bit lazy. From their perspective, if you can’t manage to do a little homework on their company ahead of the interview and come prepared with quality talking points or questions, how do they know you’re truly interested in becoming a part of their team? And, how can they trust you to be prepared and tackle your workload in a timely manner once you’re on the job?

Not customizing your resume and cover letter

The skills you highlight and keywords you use in your job application materials, particularly your resume, should always align with the specific job you’re applying for. If your materials are too broad and general (because you don’t want to spend the time customizing them for different positions), there’s no way for the hiring manager or committee to get a good sense of where your skills and experience directly relate to the job duties. Plus, if the employer uses an “Applicant Tracking System,” as many do to weed through first-round resume screenings, your materials likely won’t make it past this initial phase because your keywords won’t align with the duties or requirements in the job description.

Not cleaning up your social media

Some research suggests up to 70% of employers screen job candidate’s social media accounts before hiring. Social media has become a key part of the recruitment, hiring, and vetting process for most employers, so it’s essential that your presence online is “employer friendly.”  

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