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Resume Mistakes to Avoid When You Are Looking for a Job

Updated on February 26, 2022

I'm a small business owner who is always surprised by mistakes people make when applying for jobs and responding to job postings. Many people are concerned about doing well at job interviews, but you also have to be cautious in how you go about responding to want ads. If you get this step wrong, you won't even make it to the interview part of the hiring process.

Keep in mind that you may be one of many people applying for a particular job opening. Knowing how to properly apply for a job and respond to job postings may give you an edge over the competition. These are tips on what not to do when responding to job postings and ads.

What Not to Do When Applying for a Job

Send untidy resumes - if you're pasting a text version of your resume into an email, take a couple of minutes to format it properly. I often get resumes that are hard to read. Most employers are very busy and may not take the time to wade through a jumbled mess. There's no point in saying that you're neat and pay attention to detail if your pasted resume says otherwise.

Attach resumes without any overview of qualifications - if you're attaching a resume, don't just put into the body of the email that you're responding to a particular ad and that your resume is attached. Write a short explanation of relevant experience for the job. If employers are getting a lot of resumes from qualified candidates, they may not bother to download and open an attached resume that lacks a basic overview of what to expect if they do.

Not provide a resume at all - I've received applications that are nothing more than an email with an explanation of qualifications for the job. Always provide a resume.

Ignore the requirements of the posted job - when responding to a job advertisement, focus on the requirements of the job. A lot of people send a generic resume or cover letter and pay no attention to the requirements listed in the job ad. If an employer is seeking a qualified candidate, unrelated job experience won't help you. If you're applying for a cashier job and you have experience as a receptionist, your typing speed is not relevant. However, customer service experience is. Focus on that instead in your email response. It's fine to mention unrelated experience in your resume but try to relate it as much as possible to the job you are applying for.

Leave relevant experience off your resume - I have had people tell me in the body of the email that they have relevant experience. Then when I open their attached resume there's no mention of that particular job. So, I have no way of knowing when they did that job or what kinds of responsibilities they had. Have a resume that lists every job you did and another that lists only relevant experience for preferred jobs.

Mention kids - Employers can't legally ask about children or childcare arrangements. It may hurt you if you bring it up because employers may worry about childcare arrangements and how they might impact your ability to perform the job. Never mention your children during any part of the employment process.

Use inappropriate email signatures - having "Love Y'all" with a smiley face in your email signature is fine for family and friends. But it doesn't look professional to a potential employer. It may be a good idea to remove your email signature while you are looking for a job or create an email account dedicated to job hunting.

How you apply for a job has the potential to increase or decrease your odds of being called for an interview
How you apply for a job has the potential to increase or decrease your odds of being called for an interview

Other Considerations

It's fine to apply for jobs even if you don't have the necessary experience. However, you should mention this upfront. It can be frustrating for an employer to read through a resume and find no relevant experience. You can tell a potential employer that you don't have the experience for this particular job but ask that they keep you in mind for other job opportunities that may open up. Write a brief explanation of how your current and previous experience relates to the kinds of jobs this particular employer offers. Some employers may hold onto your resume for future positions.

If you're applying for a lot of jobs, it's easy to become careless and not put in enough effort. This can lessen your chances of getting called for an interview. When applying for a job put yourself in the shoes of a potential employer. Consider how your email and resume look from an employer's standpoint. Employers are looking for the absolute best person possible when they advertise for jobs. Hiring the wrong person can be costly in many ways. Ask yourself how your job application will be perceived by someone who wants to make the right decision in who to hire. Doing this may help you avoid simple mistakes.

Why Do I Keep Getting Rejected? 5 Common Mistakes in the Job Search

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2011 LT Wright


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