If you ask ten Human Resources professionals what they think is the biggest mistake that job seekers make, you’re likely to get ten different answers. But if you ask them to list the top five, you’re going to see some mistakes show up over and over. Avoiding the seven mistakes listed below can put you ahead of many other applicants and will demonstrate that you should be viewed as a serious candidate.
Having typographical errors on your application materials.
Misspelled words, poor punctuation, bad grammar, and inaccurate information create the impression that you didn’t bother to take the time to proofread your work. Don’t rely on your software’s spellcheck program! If you aren’t conscientious about your job application, the employer will expect that you won’t be conscientious about completing assigned tasks at work. If proofreading isn’t your strength, ask a trusted friend or family member to review your application materials before you submit them (and work on improving that essential skill).
Showing up late for an interview.
There’s an old saying that time is money, and in the business world, that’s not just a saying, it’s a fact. If you waste your potential employer’s time, you’ve started off on the wrong foot (and that foot’s probably going to wind up—with the other one—back on the street).
Behaving inappropriately during the interview.
This can take a wide variety of forms, but one of the worst offenses is checking your phone or taking a call. Some of my HR colleagues have also reported applicants showing up drunk, dressed too casually, crying, not having any questions, and acting as if they know more than the interviewer.
Doing insufficient research on the company.
With all the resources available to you, there’s no excuse for not knowing all about the company: You can read the corporate website thoroughly; search the web for press releases and news reports about the company and its executives; and use social media to review profiles of executives, managers, and other employees. All this research should allow you to be able to see how you and your skills can contribute to the goals of the organization, and, if used properly, it will help distinguish you from the rest of the applicant pool.
Including inappropriate content on your personal social media sites.
You have to expect that an employer is going to check all your social media before calling you in for an interview, so any inappropriate materials need to be taken down or hidden with privacy settings. And you must have a LinkedIn profile that clearly demonstrates your education, skills, and experience.
Failing to complete at least one, and preferably several, internships.
In today’s competitive career environment, employers rely more and more on internships to teach college students the basics of professionalism. While you will have to learn new organizational conventions with every new job, there are some basics that you can carry with you from one place to the next. Candidates with internships on their resumes have learned about teamwork and cooperation, about responsibility and reliability, and about time management, meeting deadlines, and learning from feedback.
Forgetting to say thank you!
At the end of every interview, it is imperative that you thank the interviewer for his or her time. After the interview, you should send a handwritten thank you note, and in that note you should be sure to include something specific about the interview conversation to make sure that the interviewer remembers you.