What Not to Do When You're Applying for Jobs

Job interview
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There are lots of things you should do when you apply for a job, but there are also ways that you can hinder your job search by not applying for jobs correctly. It's important to know what you shouldn't do, as well as what you should do, when you are applying for jobs. Here's what not to do when you want to get hired.

How Not to Apply for a Job

Submit a Job Application, Resume, or Cover Letter With Typos
Check your resume, your cover letter, and every single email you send for grammar and spelling - even if it's just a quick email or LinkedIn message or Facebook message to a networking contact. If you submit a job application with a typo, it can knock you out of contention for a job. This means writing in full sentences in your cover letter and emails (resumes can and do employ a few incomplete sentences to avoid the use of the “I” pronoun), and checking spelling and grammar.

You Don't Know Your Employment History
When you apply for jobs, online or in-person, employers expect you to know your employment history – including dates of employment, job titles, and company information for each job you've held. What can you do when you don't remember your exact dates of employment? Here's how you can compile your personal employment history when you're missing all the details. Be sure to review it before you go to job interviews, so you can present your work history accurately.

Tell Everyone You're Job Searching
It can be a good idea to tell everyone you know you're job searching - if you're unemployed. If you have a job and you want to keep it until you find new employment, however, be very careful who you tell that you're job searching. Also, make sure that you're using tools to keep your job search confidential. You don't want your boss to hear you're looking and possible jeopardize the job you currently hold.

Take Advantage of Your Connections
It's appropriate to use your connections to help you get a job. However, it's not appropriate to try to bypass the hiring process in order to try to get hired. Use your connections carefully and make sure they are advocating for your candidacy in a professional manner.

Dress Inappropriately
Don't wear jeans or shorts, tank tops, crop tops, or anything too low-cut (cleavage is not a good thing when you're job searching) or too short. Make sure you're not showing too much skin (i.e. your belly should not be showing). Don't wear spike heels, platforms, flip flops, or your favorite pair of old ratty sneakers. It is always important to be neat, tidy, and well-groomed and to present a positive image to the employer. Here's what you should be wearing to apply for a job - and what you shouldn't wear to a job interview.

Forget Your Resume
When applying for jobs in-person and when interviewing, bringing extra copies of your resume is a good idea. Also, consider bringing your transcript as well if you're interviewing for an academic-related position. Review this list of what to bring to an interview, so you cover all the bases.

Keep Your Phone On
Filling out a job application or participating in an interview isn't a place to sneak in a few texts. If your phone is constantly beeping or ringing, it creates a very distracting environment and reflects poorly on you. So, make it a priority to turn your phone on silent and stow it away in your bag or pocket.

Walk in with Your Earphones and Your Music Playing
Although you might be dying to catch the end of your favorite song, put your phone or iPod away before you walk in to apply for a job or go on a job interview.

Bring Food or Drink
Plan ahead and grab a coffee or other beverage or a snack before or after your interview, because it isn't professional to eat or drink during your interview. Finish (or throw out) your coffee or food before your interview.

Bring Your Parents or Friends
You should go to apply for jobs and attend job interviews alone, so don't bring your parents, your friends, or your boyfriend or girlfriend. If you're applying for a retail job and you're with friends, have them wait outside the store or elsewhere. The only time this would not apply is if you and your friends were all applying at a company that was hiring for several positions.

Act Unprofessionally
No matter how difficult your job search is, make an effort to greet your interviewer kindly, and be active and engaged during the interview process. Be outgoing and positive, even if you don't feel that way.

Don’t Be Unclear About When You're Available
When you know when it's feasible for you to work, be honest with your prospective employer. You don't want to end up taking on more hours than you can handle or commit to a schedule that won't work out, inconveniencing both yourself and your employer.

Ask for Money
It can make the hiring manager cringe when a candidate asks for a certain salary when they haven't even been interviewed yet. Avoid mentioning compensation until you have a job offer or, at least, until the employer brings it up. Even then, be careful as to how you negotiate salary.

Top Job Search Mistakes to Avoid

What are the worst job search mistakes you can make? Some are major mistakes that can halt your job search before it even gets going. Others are small mistakes that, given a competitive job market, can be enough to knock you out of contention for a job. Be sure to avoid the top job search mistakes, so you're in the best position to effectively job search.