There isn’t a lot of room for error when it comes to a job application.  It is your first impression.  At best, job application mistakes could result in a laugh between you and the hiring manager.  At worst, it could cost you the job.

In this article we aren’t talking about accidents, like sending a photo of your cat instead of a resume.  These are simple mistakes that people make all the time, are avoidable, but can cost you the job.  Many of these mistakes are so common you have probably done it and not even realized!  But don’t worry, we’ll share how to avoid them, too. 

Your Name Isn’t Saved On Your Resume File

First, let’s clarify what we are talking about here: 

Do you have a resume that just reads “resume” or “Resume 2018”?

Many people have resumes named like the one on the left.  Resume file names might reflect job type, such as “Admin Job Resume” or “resume-office3.doc”.   

Here’s the problem: Hiring Managers save resumes or get a batch download and end up with something like this. 

job application mistake: not correctly naming your resume file
Where do you even start?  Oh look!  There is Jill Sanders!

They then have to figure out whose resume is whose and either rename and save or… wait… there is Jill Sanders’ resume!  Let’s start there.

We aren’t suggesting that all HR Managers only open resumes with names on them.  We are demonstrating how frustrating it is to get hundreds of resumes and not be able to tell them apart.  Thus, it would be reasonable to assume they will start with the resumes that are easier to sort and go from there.

Follow this Golden Rule: Make a hiring manager’s job EASY to find, read, and select your resume.  This gives you the best chance at getting an interview.

How to Fix It

Avoid this job application mistake by naming your resume file accurately.  It can be as simple as Jill’s resume above.  Make sure you include both your first and last name and the word resume (to help separate it from the cover letter).

Not Saving the Job Posting

This job application mistake is very common. It also puts you in a tough position if you get a call back.

The job description is your key to understanding what an employer needs.  It is like a sales advertisement where they specify exactly what they are looking for, no more, no less.  Your resume and your interview should reflect what the job description is asking for. It is important to have more than a cursory understanding of it.

You may feel you know the job well when you apply for it, but what about a month later? It may be some time before you get a call for an interview so don’t rely on your memory.

How it Fix It

Don’t just save the link!  The link won’t work after a job posting closes. By the time you get a call for an interview, you won’t have access to the job description online.

Step up your game with Office Otter’s Job Application Tracker.

update status of job application in evernote

Job Tracker

Quickly check the status of your job applications.

Applying for More Than One Job at the Same Company at the Same Time

There is mixed advice about applying for many jobs with the same company.  Some people recommend that if it is the company culture you admire, why not hedge your bets?  Others advice against it, suggesting it can make you look desperate or unqualified.

You need to use your best judgement, but here is some advice for avoiding a negative outcome.

How to Avoid Looking Bad

Review all the job postings for the company and choose the position that you feel is the best fit for you.  Feel free to apply for another job if you are not given an interview.

Assume you get an interview for the first job, but it doesn’t feel like the right fit. Follow up after the interview and inquire about a different position. This shows interest in the company and are doing your research.

Not Applying for Jobs Above Your Current Skill Level

Part of finding a new job is stepping into a role you aren’t 100% comfortable with.  This is how you learn new skills and you grow in your career.

While it may seem scary, keep this in mind: job descriptions are a wish list of the perfect candidate. Companies pack a job description full of “it would be nice to have” or “this would be an added bonus”.  Hiring managers don’t expect candidate to have every single skill listed.

How to Fix It

Figure out which skills are necessary for the job and which are an added bonus.

Start applying for jobs one level above your current position or comfort level.  You will get a feel for the language used for that job position (see: keywords).

If you realize you have overreached, that is fine. You will still have a better idea of the job you are striving for and what you need to bring to the table.

Not Asking for the Job

Making it through to the interview round is a big step.  Because the interview is over doesn’t mean it needs to be a waiting game.

Too many people forget to send a thank you to the interviewer and, this is key, ask for the job.  

An interview is a bit like a first date.  Sure, the interviewer (or panel) may be less nervous than you, but that doesn’t mean they know what is going on in your head.  You meet, you chat, and afterward both parties go their separate ways.  It was a good date, right?  Do you want to see them again?  That part wasn’t so clear.

An interviewer might feel you are a great candidate, but they won’t know if you are still interested.  Clarification could help you stand out among the crowd.

How to Fix It

The day after the interview, send a thank you letter to the interviewer or panel.  Make sure to thank them for their time, ask any follow up questions, and then specify that you want the job.  

Here is an example: “Anne – Thank you for your time yesterday.  I learned so much more about XYZ Company.  I am excited to keep learning more and I hope we can continue forward.  Based on yesterday’s interview I am still interested in the position.”

Personalize it. Feel free to throw in a reference from your interview (“I am excited to learn more about the annual gala”). Or mention the next step (“Please keep me in mind for the second round of interviews”).

Not Creating a New Resume for Each Application

Okay, to be fair, this one isn’t exactly easy but it can be a lot easier by using a Master Resume.  

Master Resume allows you to apply to jobs quickly

Master Resume

Creating a new resume for each application is as easy as copy+paste.

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Posted by Amanda Parsons

Amanda has always had an appreciation for writing instructions that are easy to follow. When not curled up with her laptop trying to figure out why Word on the Mac is so weird, she can be found kayaking in the Pacific Northwest.

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