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10 Things to Never Do if You Want a Job

Dec 11, 2011

The current job market is more competitive than ever. You'll find yourself competing against individuals who may have more education as well as more years of experience, which makes it difficult for recent college graduates to outshine the rest. Stop making the following mistakes in order to increase the probability of landing a great job.

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Common Mistakes Made by Job Applicants

1. Not Including a Cover Letter and Resume when Applying

Resume

You may either forget to or decide not to include a resume and cover letter, which really makes the job application incomplete. You don't know exactly what employers are looking for when they screen the applications; therefore, it's better to include more than less. Some employers won't read the cover letter, while others will only skim through the resume to look for specific skills that the applicant possesses. It does take a deliberate effort and thinking process to write a custom cover letter for each job you are applying for, but it's worth every minute. It can help to look on it as a way of introducing and marketing yourself. The same goes for the resume; it's your life on paper and an opportunity to demonstrate your educational and work achievements, which will help you outshine other applicants.

Learn how to write an effective resume.

2. Showing Up to the Job Interview without Learning about the Company

It's important to be knowledgeable about the company you are applying to. Knowing about the company demonstrates to the employer that you are well-prepared and serious about the job. It allows you to answer some obvious questions about the company yourself, which helps you come up with smarter questions to ask during the interview, such as the total number of employees or whether there is potential growth within the company in the near future. By learning about the company, you'll be able to highlight the matching skills you have that make you the perfect candidate for the job.

Learn how to land a job with these interview techniques.

3. Not Emphasizing Your Unique Strengths

There are common characteristics that you may use to describe yourself during an interview, such as reliable, organized and team player, which employers have heard countless times. Therefore, it's important that you mention traits that make you unique from the rest of the applicants. Stay away from stating vague characteristics; instead, explain clearly how each of your unique traits makes you a valuable asset to any organization. For instance, you might say, 'I am an effective problem-solver, because I assess the problem from different angles and work quickly to develop a rational and successful solution.' Ultimately, employers are looking for specifics, not clichés.

Job interview

4. Blasting Your Resume to Every Company You Can Find

You may be desperately looking for a job, even if it doesn't match your experience, interest and skills. Make sure to only submit your resume to companies that are looking for individuals with the qualifications that you possess to prevent your resume from getting tossed in the trash. If you're not sure whether you're right for the job, don't apply. It's possible that you'd end up getting a job with a company that has nothing to do with your line of expertise, which will make you very unhappy in the long run.

5. Applying without Reading the Job Description

Make sure you read the entire job description before applying in order to learn if it's a position you're actually qualified for. Most job descriptions will state required and preferred qualifications in education and experience, and your cover letter and resume must demonstrate how you meet these qualifications. Some employers are willing to make an exception for the degree requirement if the applicant is really a stand-out candidate and has relevant experience. However, remember to apply to jobs that fit your expertise, skills and interest. No one's going to hire a passionate English teacher for a corporate accounting job.

6. Being Extremely Excited

You may have the impulse to send an email to a potential employer to mention how thrilled or excited you are to apply, but this really doesn't impress anyone. Being grateful is encouraged, but the content of your resume and cover letter are what will get you the job, not the exciting words you use. Show your personality in your cover letter, but remember to keep it professional and specific. Companies want to hire strong communicators, not people who just know how to use a thesaurus.

7. Forgetting to Proofread

You may forget to edit your resume and cover letter, then later find out that they're filled with typos. Some employers may place a strong emphasis on the number of typos and judge you as being careless and inattentive to detail. Reread your resume and cover letter several times to check for errors, and even have a friend, teacher or mentor proofread them for you. This will ensure that your application is in its best possible state before you submit it to potential employers.

8. Looking Like a Slob

How to dress at an interview

You may think that your appearance shouldn't be as important as the amount of work experience or education you possess. Have you heard the common phrase, 'Don't judge a book by its cover?' Unfortunately, people do judge others by their appearance. In many cases, employers will look at how you dress and consider whether it's professional or not, along with your hygiene. Dressing professionally and being clean are essential during the job interview and also when you get the job. Maybe it's not fair, but the way you dress can help indicate how serious you are about the job. You can still show off your unique style, but make sure to stay professional.

9. Not Including All of Your Previous Experiences

You may decide not to include certain job experiences because they may not relate to the field of work that you're applying for. However, it's important to include all job experiences, because even the easiest job requires a set of skills that can be useful in any position. Make sure to mention how your previous experiences equipped you for the job you are applying for, but don't exaggerate. Employers can tell if you're embellishing your skills, and they don't like it.

10. Forgetting to Ask Questions

It's very important to show up to an interview with a list of questions to ask the interviewer. This will show that you are well-prepared and truly interested in the position. If you don't prepare the questions beforehand, you may forget what to ask at the end of the interview. You can ask questions that relate to the interviewer's questions, which will provide you with either clarification or new information about the job or company. This shows that you are paying attention and can think on your feet. Think about original questions that will help you learn more about the job.

Thinking about starting a whole new career? Learn the ins and outs of picking a new career.

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