5 Easy Job Application Mistakes to Avoid

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During your job search, there are many reasons you might not be getting callbacks from prospective employers. Before you spend hours agonizing about why this is happening, take a quick look through this list of common job application mistakes.

If you’re making these mistakes, then there’s a decent chance this is why your job application is ending up in the trash.

Poor Spelling & Grammar

Nothing says “poor attention to detail” and “I don’t really care about this job” quite like an application plagued by typos. Even if the job itself has nothing to do with writing, you should take the time to polish all parts of the application. Doing this sends a message to potential employers that you are a strong communicator, that you take pride in your work, and that they can trust you to do a standout job for them. Having a second pair of eyes on your application materials can be helpful, so ask a friend or family member look them over before you hit the apply button.

Submitting a Generic Resume

When employers post a job, they already have an ideal employee in mind. To show that you’re the right person, carefully read the job description, qualifications, and education requirements. Use this info to select your most relevant skills and accomplishments, then highlight them in your resume. Set yourself apart from other applicants by including any of the employer’s “Preferred Skills” that you possess.

(Related: The Least Painful Way to Tailor Your Resume »)

Not Including a Cover Letter

I’m going to level with you — I’m not a huge fan of writing cover letters. Still, one-third of hiring managers discard job applications that don’t include a cover letter. This means that, unless the job posting explicitly states that a cover letter is not wanted, you should submit one. As with the resume, do not apply to a job using a generic cover letter. You need to tailor it, and just changing the company name is not enough.

(Related: How to Write a Cover Letter That Works »)

Not Following Directions

Many employers include specific instructions for how to apply to a job. Read the entire job posting carefully and look for instructions. For example, a hiring company might ask you to apply on their company page rather than through a job board listing. Others will ask you to send your resume in the body of an email rather than including it as an attachment. If you fail to follow these simple directions, chances are slim that the employer will even look at your application.

Leaving Too Many Fields Blank

Some job applications include a series of questions, some of which are required and some of which are optional. For instance, an employer may ask you what your minimum salary requirements are and how you heard about the position. It’s important that you answer more than just the required questions, as you do not want to appear lazy or disinterested. Moreover, some application tracking software sorts job candidates based on the number of questions they answered, making it easy for employers to discard those at the bottom.

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