Looking for a new job is intimidating for everyone.
While parts of the job search are out of your control, much of the process is in your control. And we see so many candidates making the same avoidable mistakes that cause their applications to be overlooked.
To boost your chances of scoring an interview, we’ve outlined ten things to avoid when applying for jobs. Let’s dive right in.
Listing skills on your resume or your LinkedIn profile that do not align with what you currently do can harm your job search. It’s important to market yourself accordingly. Why? Because recruiters fill roles based on highly specific requirements. And if you don’t truly have certain skills, the truth is bound to come out in a screening call (or a later interview). It’s better to focus on jobs that would be a good alignment for you right now.
Because they have an immediate need for a specific role, most hiring managers are unwilling to make concessions or “try somebody out” who doesn’t have the prerequisite skills. Your resume should show you’re at least 80% qualified in addition to having the primary skillset needed. In the interview, be sure to explain how you’re at least familiar with or plan to obtain the other missing tech skills. It’s also important to only apply to jobs that you’re genuinely interested in!
Your resume, LinkedIn, and any other job-seeking profiles must be up to date when you start applying for jobs. Again, recruiters are looking for a highly specific set of skills, and if those skills and technologies aren’t listed on your resume, your application might get overlooked.
Lastly, you may want to tailor your resume for each application, but your job titles should not be changing unless it’s just a slight variation to provide more clarity in your work. For example, recruiters will know if you’ve applied to two different roles at one organization. If the job titles and responsibilities you list on one application are completely different from another, you may be immediately discounted for fabrication.
As a rule of thumb, recruiters want to see up to ten years of related work history on your resume (if you have over 10 years of related experience). You don’t need to remove the job you had straight out of college because it doesn’t really fit the role you’re applying for now. Chances are, that job taught you some invaluable skills that are transferable to this role, and you can explain how you made a successful transition in your interview.
That being said, do not use a resume longer than 1-4 pages. If your work experience is extensive, you should cap the length at 4 pages. If you have five years of experience or less, try not to exceed one page.
If you’ve worked any contract positions, label them as such on your resume and your LinkedIn, and make sure your resume dates and titles match what’s on your LinkedIn profile.
Your Google Voice number isn’t one you likely check very often, and you want to pick up when recruiters call you. You’re applying for a real job, so provide your real information. Use your primary phone number instead to expedite communications.
If privacy is a concern, then only provide this number directly upon connecting with a recruiter that is working on a job that you know you are interested in. This will mitigate potential spam calls. You can always ask one or two necessary questions via LinkedIn before providing your number.
Use as many job sites and job boards as possible. It’s important to apply for jobs on multiple platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, Dice, and ZipRecruiter. Dice is particularly good for technical jobs. And remember, keep your information consistent across all websites.
If you’re actively looking for a job, strike while the iron is hot! Recruiters may be talking to several other great candidates, and you don’t want to miss out on the opportunity to interview. So, respond right away and set up your screening call as soon as possible.
Consider your call with a recruiter a chance to practice your interview — be prepared to speak to your examples and situations. Come across as polished and knowledgeable about the position. Be able to explain how your skills and experience apply to the role. If you don’t, you risk candidacy for the job you applied for and the relationship with the recruiter, who could submit you for multiple other jobs.
Limit your contact to recruiters and keep your messages professional. As the “gatekeepers” for each role, they are the ones that keep the interview process going and communicate any pertinent information to the team. You’ll get to know the team once you interview, so save your questions for the hiring team for that time.
Almost every interviewer will expect you to have questions prepared. We recommended touching on three things: team culture, growth opportunities, and immediate project needs. It’s important to have questions prepared for all three topics.
And while we’re on the subject of interviews, always show up 5 to 15 minutes early, even if it’s virtual. Print out your resume and the job description for your reference and keep a notebook and pen close by to take notes you can refer back to.
It’s tempting to reference materials on your laptop during your interview, but don’t — interviewers may think you’re looking things up. You should only use one screen and your internal audio – not headphones, unless specifically requested otherwise.
Starting a job search is always the hardest part. But once you get going, keeping these “do nots” in mind can get you in front of the right people and help you make a stellar impression.
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