10 Things to Stop Doing When You Apply for a Job
Starting to apply for a job can be a stressful yet hopeful time. You want to think that every attempt you put out into the world will go your way, but the truth of the matter is that you will get far less of the jobs you actually apply for.
No sweat. Happens to all of us. But you can improve your odds of landing the job of your dreams if you stop self-destructive habits before making contact. In the following article, we’re going to be talking about how you can do just that. You absolutely must stop doing the following 10 things before (or when) you apply. Let’s get started!
1. Ignoring Your Social Media Accounts
This one is so important we are going to put it at the top. You have probably been on social media of some form for quite some time. You have done a lot of growing and maturing during that process. (You have, right?)
Before you apply for a job, it is a great idea to go back through your history and parse every post or comment to see if you have ever put anything out there with your name on it that someone might be able to screencap and use against you at a later date.
Companies invest millions of dollars in on-boarding their employees each year. They are going to be doing as exhaustive search as they can for anything that might be an indicator they are wasting their time and resources. Since you have control of your accounts before you apply, make it easy on yourself by purging anything that puts you in a negative light.
Some of us have even gone as far as deleting old social media accounts and starting over fresh with a more professional image. Better to be boring and hired than funny and fired.
2. Sending Your Resume Sans Cover Letter
Every employer usually appreciates getting a cover letter. That’s because most of them assume your resume will be nothing more than an inventory of education, work experience, and skill sets. There is nothing there to indicate you are a cultural fit, in other words.
Your cover letter provides an opportunity to show your stuff beyond the nuts and bolts. It shows that you understand the company, the position, and the people you will be working with. Neglecting to send a cover letter fumbles a key opportunity to set yourself apart from the competition.
3. Writing Generic Cover Letters
A cover letter is a good thing to send, but you cannot afford to make it generic. You have to assume the employer will be getting a lot of those. So, what do you do to help yours stand out? Here are some quick tips.
Keep it short: short sentences, short paragraphs, no more than 200 words in length, lots of white space.
Focus on them: don’t use your cover letter as a chance to brag on you. Use it as a chance to showcase the skills and experience you have that will help them.
Show your understanding: include verbiage that shows to the employer you’ve taken the time to understand their unique culture and offerings.
By following these steps, you will have a cover letter you can be proud of, and your (hopefully) future employer will know that you are different from the majority of applicants, in a good way.
4. Starting Each Application from Scratch
Of course, there is not one generic job application for every company that has ever hired anybody ever. That’s not what we are saying. What we are saying is this: many applications will ask for the same basic types of information, and it is important to have some boilerplate language in place that you can then go back and tailor to the specific company and position.
Keeping a references database on your personal computer, complete with contact information and categories (as in, why is this reference the right reference to share for this particular job) is a good start. You’ll also want to keep phone numbers of previous employers, names and contact information of supervisors, and other recurring “Asks” on hand.
When you consider a job application can go on for 10 or 20 pages in some professions, it helps to have something like this you can pull from. Speeding up the process while ticking all the boxes: that’s what it’s all about! When you fail to do this, it can add hours to the time it takes to submit a job application, and the outcome usually isn’t as effective.
5. Thinking You Are Unqualified
This one has limits. Of course, you’re not going to apply for a position in which you have no education, skills, or training. That would be a waste of your time and the time of the employer.
But many times, we’ve seen job applicants not throw their hat into the proverbial ring for positions in which they would have a legitimate shot if not for one or two shortcomings on their resume. Our advice? Apply anyway!
You would be surprised at how many times an employer will set out to hire someone for a position without a cemented idea of what they want from that person once they’re in the role. You can’t assume the employer has everything figured out, in other words, or you could end up leaving significant opportunities on the table.
If it makes you feel any better, you can call attention to some specific omission in your experience but then offer something comparable and demonstrate a willingness to enroll in continuing education. The employer will appreciate your attention to detail and can-do attitude, and they may even end up taking a chance on you.
6. Failing to Keep Records
Record-keeping is an extension of No. 5. It comes in extremely handy when tracking the companies for which you’ve applied, the number of rejections you’ve received, and the people with whom you still need to follow up. Why are these things important? Let’s go through each one in a little more detail:
Number of companies: getting a job is a numbers game. You’re going to get a lot more rejections than acceptances. That’s a part of life. But it helps to know what your ratio is. Like, do you get every one out of 12 jobs you apply for? That’s helpful information to have the next time you find yourself unemployed or looking to upgrade a position.
Number of rejections: knowing this number – and the reasons for those rejections – can be extremely helpful in knowing what you’re doing wrong and what you’re doing right. It can shed light on skill shortages that you can then work on for future applications.
People with whom you need to follow up: companies get busy. If you haven’t heard from one in a couple of weeks, it may not be that they have filled the position. You can always send a short, polite follow-up email to get an answer one way or the other or just to let them know you’re still out there.
Hopefully, you can see the value in record-keeping. As a bonus, it’ll help you improve your organizational skills as well, and that’ll make you better prepared for the workforce!
7. Taking a Rejection As Final
Some companies will reject your current application, but seldom do they say, “Never apply here again!” Many times, a rejection can be a nice icebreaker between you and a recruiter or hiring manager.
As long as you keep that bridge built instead of burned, there may be some point in the future when there “No” becomes “Yes.” So, never write anyone off just because they give you an answer you don’t like. They could still be your future employer!
8. Expecting the Job to Take Care of You
You can no longer assume you will get one job that manages to take care of you for the rest of your life. Don’t get us wrong. It’s great if you locate that unicorn, but until you do, assume that your employer will cut your job the first time it makes sense to do so.
Let that fear motivate you to continue your education and marketability. Also, use those skills to find freelance work/gigs that can help to supplement existing income and take care of you in the event of an unexpected job loss.
9. Not Tailoring Your Resume for the Position
Yes, most employers see the resumes that come across their desks as generic databases of skills, work experience, and educational history. But you can set yours apart by leaving out the stuff that isn’t relevant to the position itself and including only the information targeted toward job expectations and company culture.
The closer you can make a resume feel like it was written specifically for that company, the better it will stand out to those making the final decisions.
10. Doing Poor Research on the Company
Research on the company is essential for every element of the job application and on-boarding process. When you do adequate research, you are able to tailor the application, resume, and cover letter. You also are able to prepare for the job interview.
This will show itself in the questions that you are able to ask the employer. They expect you to have good questions when you sit down with them. If you don’t, you will not stand out compared to the other talent. Immersing yourself in the job description, recent news releases, corporate staff histories, and vision statements will be a great jumping-off point for insightful questions.
Apply for a Job Smarter, Not Harder
When you apply for a job, you have to realize that it’s as much of a skill-set as what you put on your resume or demonstrate throughout the application process. Avoiding the mistakes we’ve listed here will put you well ahead the other applicants and limit the amount of true competition that you have for each role.
[Featured Image by Needpix]