1. Cutting and pasting your cover letter. A standard outline of your cover letter is fine to have on hand, but the trick is to customize your cover letter each and every time you apply for a job. That means incorporating elements from the job description, as well as addressing the letter to the hiring manager, if possible.
2. Not proofreading your resume and cover letter. Want to look unprofessional? Then don’t bother proofreading your resume and cover letter. Grammatical errors will surely not land you the job you want! Read through to make sure you haven’t made errors. If you have the hiring manager’s name, double check that you spelled it correctly. Run the document through Spellcheck for one last proof. If possible, run it by a trusted friend. It never hurts to have another set of eyes look it over.
3. Not preparing for your interview. If you don’t dress the part, chances are you won’t get hired. However, there is one caveat to this: Try to look into what the company culture is like before your interview. At one company, a business suit might be the ticket to making a dazzling first impression, while at another, they might think you’ve overdone it if they’re a little looser when it comes to a dress code.
In addition to learning everything you can about the company beforehand, you should also consider what you might be asked in an interview, and how you will respond. Build your mini-stories by thinking about the company’s challenges or the challenges this role creates, and then about what you can do or have done in the past to overcome these obstacles. And minimize your vocalized pauses! “Uhs” and “Ums” don’t make you seem like a confident candidate.
4. Skipping the thank-you note. Your interview is over and you plan to follow up a week later. Did you forget anything? A thank-you note, while it won’t guarantee you get the job, usually does leave a favorable impression with the hiring manager. And it just might be the one thing that makes you stand out from the other applicants. You should send this out within a day or two of the job interview.
While we’re talking about followup: It’s appropriate to follow up with the employer a week after your interview. Hiring managers have to interview several candidates in addition to being busy with their regular work, so it may take time to make the decision. At the one-week mark, if they haven’t chosen a candidate, ask when they expect to, and respectfully ask if you can follow up again at that time.
5. Getting angry that you didn’t get the job. You thought you were ideal for the position, but you didn’t get it. It’s normal to feel frustrated, especially if you were led through a lengthy process. Now you want to lash out at the HR manager. Keep your emotions in check, though. Venting could lose you the opportunity to be considered for future roles at the company. Instead, wait until you calm down, and then contact the hiring manager to ask for positive feedback on why you didn’t get hired. It can help you with future job interviews and applications.
Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.