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The 3 Most Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make and How You Can Avoid Them

Job hunting is like taking a journey, and along the way, there are twists and turns. If you’ve read some of our other articles, you know that each phase of job hunting --- resume writing, interviewing, follow-up letters, etc. --- has its own rules of thumb. While no one will fault you for making a minor misstep, hiring managers expect due diligence in certain areas of job hunting that you don’t want to overlook.

Below are what we consider to be the three most common mistakes job seekers make and how you can ensure you avoid them.

1. Not researching the companies and jobs you are pursuing.

Job seekers responding to a new job listing or opening will often hurry to get their resume to the employer without first checking out the company. As a result, their resume and cover letter will not only show their lack of knowledge but may contain assumptions about the company that are incorrect.

A prospective employer will be impressed and consider you a serious job candidate if you can show that you know about who they are and what they offer their customers. You want to get on the company’s website and research their product or services, find out their mission, executive team, and recent news, and get a sense for their corporate culture. With this information, you can best tailor your resume and cover letter to this company, providing them with highlights of your work experience that will be most relevant to them and conveying an interest in working there that is genuine and meaningful.

2. Not reviewing your resumes, cover letters and follow-up notes before sending them.

If a hiring manager sees a typo or anything out of place on your resume, cover letter or follow-up email, they’ll question your neatness and attention to detail. Therefore, it goes without saying that you need to proofread before sending anything to a prospective employer, especially if it’s a document you’re frequently changing and updating. You need to look for misspellings, grammatical errors and typing gaffes, and ensure your formatting is consistent and in alignment.

Even if you’ve gone over a document a number of times, it’s a good idea to have one or two other people take a look at it to make sure you didn’t miss anything.  Getting more eyes to review a document before you hit “send” can make the difference between getting it noticed and getting it discarded.

3. Not following up.

Hiring managers want to know you’re genuinely interested in the job and working for that company. They also like to know you are assertive, tenacious and good at follow-through. One way you can prove you have these qualities is by following up.

When you send a resume, the cover letter you attach should mention next steps, such as contacting the recipient in a week (or two) to inquire about scheduling an interview. (Your next steps will depend on what you learn or what might be stated in the job listing regarding the interview and hiring timeline.) You want to make sure you follow-up when you say you will.

After an interview, you want to send a thank-you note, via either email or postal mail, to everyone you met with. This note should be sent within 24 hours after the interview. Again, if there are any next steps, stated either by you or the employer, make sure you follow them.

As time goes by after sending your resume or being interviewed, you want to continue following up and staying in touch. How soon or how much you follow up will depend on the employer and what is acceptable to them. They may be fine with having you check in once a week or prefer you wait a month. When you’ve spoken to them in a follow-up call or interview, it’s always a good idea to ask upfront what works for them.

Does job hunting still feel new to you or has it been a long time since your last job search? Since job hunting is a process with a big learning curve (and it often changes with the times), you should do some homework upfront and find out the latest techniques and tools. Pongo has a wealth of information on every aspect of job hunting --- below are just a few articles related to the topics we've covered here. Also, talk to people who have been in your shoes about lessons they’ve learned and mistakes they’ve made. By getting educated on the dos and don’ts, you’ll be able to put your best foot forward and ensure you make the best possible impression.

Why Your Resume Can Use a Second Proofreader
Take it from HR: One Typo Can Kill Your Chances
Smart or Stalker-esque? The Art of Following Up
The Job Search Follow Up Guide You Can't Live Without 

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