10 Deadly Mistakes Job Searchers Make

Why each of these mistakes matters to employers

Deadly Mistakes Job Searchers Make
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Sometimes the simplest mistakes make all the difference in the potential joining together of an employer and a job searcher. These opportunities to fail to occur before the first phone call is ever exchanged. If you’re an employer, these simple, yet serious, job searcher mistakes tell you volumes about the candidate.

These deadly mistakes matter. Here are ten things that employers need to watch for as you review job searcher resumes and applications. Beware of job searchers who:

Fail to follow your directions on how to apply:

Why it Matters: By following your requested application method: email, fax, or mail, the job searcher brands himself as a cooperative person who can and is willing to follow directions. The candidate makes it easy for you to route all applications into an email recruiting folder, as an example.

The job searcher is telegraphing that he is willing to stand on his qualifications without the need for games or by-passing your application system. He’s the job searcher you want.

Send resumes or cover letters with typos:

Why it Matters: Typos brand the job searcher as a careless person who didn’t take the time to proofread her resume and cover letter. You can often judge the quality of the candidate’s future work by the quality of the documents that introduce the job searcher.

You certainly obtain a sample of the written work you can expect. Many managers use typos as a screen to eliminate candidates from contention—and, wisely so.

Apply without providing the salary information requested:

Why it Matters: Many candidates are positive that once you see their credentials, and meet them, salary won’t be an issue. Their credentials will knock your socks off. They’re wrong. You have a budget, a job description, and the expectation that you’re not going to waste your time on a candidate who is too expensive.

Minimally, this candidate causes you to make a screening phone call. Why spend time on candidates who don’t offer valid applications that follow your directions?

Fail to send a customized cover letter with their resume:

Why it Matters: A customized cover letter means more than changing the lead paragraph to mention your company name. It means drawing your attention, point by point, to how the job searcher’s credentials match your stated needs.

You already have a generic introduction–the resume. The cover letter is the candidate’s place to shine, to demonstrate that she is worth your time. Candidates, who connect the dots, demonstrate that they are meticulous, interested, and worth your time.

Leave large gaps in their employment—unexplained:

Why it Matters: The first scan of a resume will reveal gaps in the job searcher’s employment history. Trust me. You will always want to know why these gaps exist. Job searching professionals tell candidates to explain employment gaps up front in the cover letter.

Otherwise, you are likely to believe there is something wrong with the candidate. He appears undependable, has trouble finding a job, and more. And the truth is—there often is a problem with the candidate. Your call.

Tell what the job searcher did; not what she accomplished:

Why it Matters: The job searcher answered a multi-line phone and provided customer service. Do you care? Not likely. You want to know that the candidate improved customer service by 120 percent. The descriptions on the resume must focus on accomplishments; the candidate was promoted three times.

She won a prize for customer service. Otherwise, as an employer, you have to wonder if the job searcher has any accomplishments—or is just a bad resume writer who had no help. Either way …

Apply for jobs for which they are way over-qualified; or under-qualified:

Why it Matters: You described the skills and experiences required for the position in your ad. A job description and a salary range exist. If the candidate is overqualified or under-qualified, the application is suspect.

Can you afford the candidate? Is he padding his resume? It doesn’t take long to see that a high school grad is applying for a position that requires a degree and 1-2 years of experience. Don’t waste your time on the application—at least, not much time.

Exhibit problems with grammar and sentence construction:

Why it Matters: Application materials that demonstrate the job searcher is challenged to produce a complete sentence telegraph that the candidate won’t serve you well. Grammatical errors should send several messages. The candidate can’t write very well.

Worse, she lacks attention to detail. Her ability to interact with customers is limited by her skills. Will she be a superior performer? Promotable? Not likely, if her prepared, polished resume and cover letter leave you cold.

Use out-of-the-ordinary tactics and gimmicks to draw attention to his resume:

Why it Matters: Candidates believe gimmicks capture your attention. They do—but not necessarily your positive attention. You have enough problems with discrimination laws without viewing the job searcher's resume picture.

A resume envelope stuffed with confetti is a pain to clean up. Reading a candidate's life history and viewing training certificates won’t earn a candidate many points—and you'll probably ignore them in the resume glance stage. However, gimmicks ought to leave you thinking–negatively.

Skip Human Resources and apply to the hiring manager or the CEO:

Why it Matters: Job searching books persist in making this recommendation, and maybe it was a good one, once upon a time. It’s still good when a person is introducing herself and making a professional contact. But, when job searchers use this tactic to apply for an advertised position, warning bells better ring. What about her qualifications makes her believe her resume won't be noticed if it arrives over the transom?

Does she persistently fail to follow directions? Certainly, the candidate fails to understand the importance of the Human Resources function. (The role of HR has changed radically in many organizations these days.) Will that continue if she's hired? The better managers pass this resume back to HR anyway; they know they have no basis for comparison until HR builds a pool of candidates.

These ten tips inform the manager about job searcher weaknesses that should be noticed and why. Take a look at the same tips addressed to the job searchers for a different perspective: "The Most Common Job Search Mistakes to Avoid".