Dear Sam: I work as a hiring manager, and I see candidates committing critical mistakes all the time when applying for our open positions. Can you share with your readers some of the biggest job search blunders to avoid? – Underwhelmed
Dear Underwhelmed: It is very unfortunate when candidates spend time applying for jobs, only to be overlooked due to trivial mistakes! Candidates who apply for jobs haphazardly oftentimes appear disingenuous, unprofessional, and careless. Avoid leaving a negative impression on hiring managers by steering clear of the following missteps:
Outdated, Unprofessional, or Incorrect Email Addresses
It is very frustrating to attempt to contact someone, only to receive an “undeliverable” message. Hiring managers sometimes run into this problem with candidates who use their college email addresses after graduating without realizing that their email addresses have expired. Some schools do forward emails to students’ personal emails, but this usually must be set up in advance and not every school offers this option. If you recently graduated, be sure to transition all your email communication to a personal email account. Likewise, never use your company email account for your job search!
“Cute” or funny email addresses have no place in professional documents or communications. Save nicknames, alter egos, and inappropriate slang words for your personal email. Avoid listing your birth year in your email address as well (email@example.com) so that your age is not on display. Similarly, if you are still using what some may consider an outdated email provider like Hotmail or AOL, I recommend updating your email provider to a more modern Gmail or Outlook account with your first name, last name, and middle initial if needed.
As a final cautionary note about email – be sure that all your email communication is written professionally. There is a huge difference between a text message and an email. At the bare minimum, include a salutation (“Hello [Name]”), a nice greeting (“I hope you’re doing well!”), a few sentences about why you’re emailing, and an ending (“Sincerely” / “Best regards.”)
Lack of Connection
Targeting your resume and cover letter to the jobs you’re applying for is of utmost importance. If a hiring manager receives an application for an administrative position from someone with all photography-related experience, he or she is not going to draw the connection between why that person is a good fit for the position. Avoid wasting your time and a hiring manager’s time by applying for jobs for which you are clearly over– or underqualified for as well. The job requirements, qualifications, and oftentimes salary should be clearly listed in the job description – make sure it makes sense for you to apply.
Blatant Typos or Mistakes
While avoiding typos should be common sense, a 2013 CareerBuilder survey found that 58% of resumes have typos. If a candidate has a blatant typo, a hiring manager will most likely assume that the candidate lacks attention to detail. In addition to misspellings, referencing an incorrect job title or company name is usually immediate grounds for tossing a candidate’s resume into the “reject” pile. Triple check all your documents for accuracy, and then have someone else review them again for good measure.
Self-Serving Objective Statements
A vague objective statement such as “Seeking a position with a successful company to help me grow and develop as a professional” does nothing to differentiate you as a candidate and does not make it clear why a hiring manager should offer you an interview. Opening your resume with a qualifications summary that showcases the pillars of your candidacy (and is customized based on the position you’re applying for) is much better use of the valuable real estate at the top of your resume.
As a candidate, you want to make sure your resume, cover letter, and communications are memorable – but for the right reasons. The last thing you want to do is end up in a hiring manager’s list of “hiring horror stories” or cautionary tales! Proofread your documents, personalize your materials, and present yourself in the best professional light at all times.