We all make mistakes—that’s what makes us human. But when you’re looking for a new job, it’s important to minimize those job application mistakes because they may cost you the position.


Here are some of the biggest application mistakes candidates make (and how to avoid them):

1. Spelling/Grammatical Errors

These types of errors, although they seem small in nature, can be a major red flag to employers. It shows you lack attention to detail, and many hiring managers or recruiters will think you rushed through your application.

How to avoid this mistake: Take your time filling out job applications and have someone else look them over if possible. This includes having someone proofread your resume and cover letter. You can also read your resume, cover letter, and other job application materials aloud to catch anything you may miss while scanning through on the computer.

2. Not Following Directions

Man works on a job application

This is something everyone learns in grade school, but it’s amazing how many people STILL don’t read directions! Every application you fill out will be slightly different or require a different response—so it’s important to read through each step.

How to avoid this mistake: Pay attention and slow down during the job application process. If you’re feeling rushed, it’s probably because you’re applying to too many openings that you may not be qualified for (or genuinely interested in), so you may want to rethink your job search strategy.

3. Submitting A Resume You Haven’t Tailored To The Position

Man writes his resume for a job application

This is a big no-no. It shows you don’t really understand what the employer is looking for and are just hoping your resume fits some of the criteria. Not tailoring your resume also makes it harder for it to get past the ATS.

How to avoid this mistake: Carefully read through the job description, qualifications, and education requirements. On your resume, show the employer how you’re qualified through your previous experience, skills, and expertise. Quantify your work experience and accomplishments, and make sure your resume is optimized with keywords so it can actually get past the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager.

4. Writing A Generic Cover Letter

Woman thinks about filling out a job application

Your cover letter should tell a compelling story and make the hiring manager interested in moving on to your resume. It should also address the hiring manager by name and describe exactly why you are the best candidate for the position. Not doing these things will communicate to the hiring manager that you’re not that interested in the position you’re applying for. You won’t stand out from the other candidates and will be less likely to land a job interview, even if your resume is tailored to the position.

How to avoid this mistake: Write a disruptive cover letter for each position you’re applying for. Although there may be similarities between positions, always customize your cover letter for each job opening. Focus on your connection story. Why do you want to work for this specific employer? What part(s) of this company are you passionate about? Why do you feel connected to their products or mission? Your disruptive cover letter should answer these questions.

5. Not Going Beyond The Job Description

Happy woman fills out a job application

It’s imperative that you research the company you’re applying to. You need to know what they do, how the company is structured, and their mission, values, and goals in order to determine how you fit in. Should you move on in the hiring process, these things will be vital to a successful interview—and you’ll be one step ahead. Failing to research the company before submitting your job application will result in an ineffective resume and cover letter. If you do manage to land a job interview without conducting research on the company, you’ll be scrambling trying to prepare for interview questions, and you might fumble your answers if you don’t do enough research.

How to avoid this mistake: Perform a simple Google search on the organization. Look through their company website and social media profiles. Also, read reviews of the organization and its products, and browse recent news articles that mention the company.

What are some other major job application mistakes you’ve made and/or witnessed?

If you need more help improving your job applications, check out Work It Daily’s FREE Resume & LinkedIn Bootcamp!

During this bootcamp, you will learn:

  • How to properly format and optimize your resume
  • How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
  • How both of these tools can help you stand out

Interested? Sign up today!

This article was originally published at an earlier date.

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