Top 10 Common Mistakes Job Applicants Make

Julianne Streff
Dec 10, 2019

Julianne Streff is a Talent Acquisition Manager and Thursday Yoga Master at Spire Digital. Julianne writes about her experiences in staff augmentation and human resources, taking great pride in helping Spire maintain its unique company culture and high retention rate.

I love to recruit. Witnessing people’s sheer elation when they land their next great gig (or hire) turns me into a ball of happy emotions (I’m not crying, you’re crying). Before we cross the finish line though, recruiters and hiring teams see a lot of resumes, and some of them are instant disqualifiers. No, it’s not because of one or two misspelled words (but don’t quit proofreading please). Rather, it’s because they don’t tell a story, they leave the reader asking “but what do you actually do?” and/or they don’t get to the point about what they can deliver. Imagine your reader has 30 seconds to skim your resume – what do you need them to remember?

The following are areas for improvement; with a few extra minutes (and ideally one more pair of eyes), I believe this can take your resume to stand-out status.

Top Mistakes Job Applicants Make:

  1. Not explaining employment gaps (the recruiter/hiring manager is left guessing – have they not updated their resume since 2018? Did they take a sabbatical?). A good approach will include “company closed” or “company moved development team off-shore”, for example. 
  2. Not differentiating between contract roles and full-time (which can explain short tenures).
  3. Not identifying their exposure to (and/or comfortability with) relevant software for the job in question (i.e., if you’re applying to a “react.JS” job, I want to see react listed in your resume. Better yet, bold those keywords, too!).
  4. Leaving out dates in general – it poses a potential red flag when an applicant doesn’t include the dates (or years) they held a position; it feels like they’re hiding something.
  5. Not tailoring the application. Not every resume is a shoo-in, identical match with a job description. Also, it’s definitely okay to only include “relevant experience” and save the rest for your LinkedIn, website, or impending interview.
  6. Not researching who the hiring manager is and writing “To Whom It May Concern” at the top of their cover letter/email. When I receive an email addressed to me, it shows me that the applicant spent a few minutes on our website and/or Linkedin, which goes a long way, especially at smaller companies.
  7. Not following up. Remember, sometimes hundreds of people apply for the same job. To stand out (and convey your excitement), communicate more than once, and heck, let’s get a little spicy and drop the hiring manager a personalized note via LinkedIn message.
  8. Only relying on open jobs to send in your resume. If you like what a company does, don’t wait for the perfect opening. Send an email proactively and ask for a coffee meeting to begin the networking process. You’ll likely have less competition, too!
  9. Not including contact info on the resume – this seems like a no brainer, but we’ve received enough phoneless resumes for this to warrant a spot on this list!
  10. Doing it alone – your best friend during a job search can and should be a recruiter; it’s free, you get great insight on the market/companies of interest, you’ll have at least one additional set of eyes searching on your behalf, and it connects you to a much wider network. If you’re looking for a new job, or hurting for quality candidates to hire, call me, your friendly local match-maker, today!

View another article by Julianne Streff, about onboarding best practices.

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