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What Not to Do When Applying for Jobs and Responding to Job Ads

Updated on January 19, 2016

I'm a small business owner. I'm always surprised by mistakes people make when applying for jobs and responding to a job posting. Many people are concerned about doing well at job interviews. But you also have to be careful 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 there are usually several people applying for each available 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 You Should Not 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 tidy it up and format it. I often get resumes that are very 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 makes it very clear this isn't the case.

How you apply for a job may increase or lessen your odds of being called for an interview
How you apply for a job may increase or lessen your odds of being called for an interview

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 qualified responses, 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 receptionist experience, 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're 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 they did. 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 job hunting.

Other Considerations When Applying for a Job

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 an employer that you don't have the experience for this particular job but ask that they keep you in mind for other possible jobs that open up. Write a brief explanation of how your current and previous experience relates to the kinds of jobs this particular employer probably 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 too much 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 when applying for jobs.

Your Comments On Applying for Jobs

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    • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

      Learn Things Web 

      4 years ago from California

      Thanks Au fait. I'll take a look.

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      4 years ago from North Texas

      The job market is still on the tight side. You offer some very important advice here about applying for jobs, especially given that you offer it from a perspective employer's point of view. I have added a link to this article in my hub: "Understanding How Unemployment Insurance Benefits Work: This explains Unemployment for both employees and employers."

    • Learn Things Web profile imageAUTHOR

      Learn Things Web 

      5 years ago from California

      Rhonda_M,

      That's true. I guess people start to get careless when they're applying for a lot of jobs.

    • Rhonda_M profile image

      Rhonda Malomet 

      5 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      I'm always amazed at how people don't read or pay attention to instructions regardless of the situation.

    • Faceless39 profile image

      Kate P 

      6 years ago from The North Woods, USA

      Rated up, useful, and interesting. To be honest I'd never thought to put an overview into the emails before (darn it!) Loved the part about email signatures haha! Great tips, thanks for posting. :)

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