After working as an engineer, I enjoy reading and writing to help others get more out of their time in their pursuit of personal development
When Applying for a Job
After more than three decades of working as an engineer holding key positions, I have seen and vetted several job applications. Some are good but many are substandard.
In this article, I will share things that you must not do when applying for a job, to ensure a resume that presents you as a compelling applicant.
13 Things You Should Never Do When Applying for a Job
Avoid these 13 most common mistakes in job applications to make sure you are fully prepared when you are searching for jobs:
- Did not check the resume.
- Bad resume and lacking in detail.
- Did not submit a customized cover letter.
- Did not do research on the company.
- Did not read the job advertisement properly.
- Did not organize a job search.
- Did not network or be on the mailing list for job offers.
- Did not have a positive attitude.
- Did not reveal the right information.
- Did not use the right keywords.
- Did not ask for help.
- Did not expand your skills.
- Did not follow the rules of job search.
1. Did Not Check the Resume
Please write your resume to match the job requirement. When you adopt the strategy of applying to several job advertisements, there is the tendency to send resumes written specifically for another job.
Therefore, check your resume not just for the typo and grammatical errors but also for content detail. Likewise, check the cover letter before posting.
2. Bad Resume and Lacking in Detail
For a good job application:
- Your resume must have sufficient detail of your personal information, education, and work experiences.
- Always give a short description of the company that you had worked for before, especially if it is not well known.
- Your personal information must have at least your full address, house or work phone number, your mobile number, and email address. Do not include the expected salary in your resume. This is a very common job application mistake.
- If you have a time gap in your career such as taking a break for health reasons, explain clearly. When called for an interview, explain further the reason for this time gap.
One of the most common mistakes of writing a resume is to lie about your experience. You must not do this when applying for a job as your resume will be exaggerated and will be far from the truth. Most companies will do background searches and if you give in to the temptation to lie, you might miss out on the job offer.
What Should Not Be Included in a Resume
- Objectives: This is more of what you want rather than what the company/employer wants. Use the cover letter instead if you need to elaborate further.
- Functional resumes: This format will list skills that are not in chronological job history, which hides any gap in between jobs. Employers will find it difficult to understand your career's progression and may reject the application.
- Photo: This is not required unless the type of job requires you to do so, such as a flight attendant or a model.
- Your Salary: Exclude this as it will compromise your future negotiation for salary and other compensation.
- Page Format: Use the standard format and not a fancy design as this tends to look 'unprofessional'.
3. Did Not Submit a Customized Cover Letter
A customized cover letter will impress a prospective employer and can get you listed as one of the strong candidates for the job.
5 Tips to Customize a Cover Letter
However, do not write a long cover letter. It should be three paragraphs long and must include:
- The reason for the cover letter.
- Where you heard of this vacancy and lastly.
- Be personal and not address it as 'To Whom It May Concern.”
- Information that can enhance your chances that is not available in your resume. Also, don’t repeat what is already in your resume.
- Highlight your qualifications and experiences for the job and the benefits of hiring you, but don't oversell.
4. Did Not Do Research on the Company
If you fail to research the company's background, vision, financial performance, and management team, you might stumble if the interview questions are on these subjects.
Be a well-prepared candidate and do research on the respective companies to find out all that you can to survive and succeed in the interview.
5. Did Not Read Job Advertisement Properly
Most of the job applications end up in the rejected list simply because they fail to read the job posting properly.
Read every single line and paragraph of the advertisement and be sure it advertises for an electrical engineer and not an electronic engineer or mechanical engineer. Read the job's requirements, duties, and responsibilities. If you are applying for as many jobs as possible, you might end up applying for a mismatched job.
A Bad Job Application
If your application is sloppy, most employers will not only reject your application but will not keep it in their database for future reference. It is reflective of your work performance and they will not employ someone who cannot follow simple instructions and directions.
6. Did Not Organize Your Job Search
Please have a dedicated email for all job searches and separate them from your personal email. If you use your personal email you can easily miss an important message or fail to follow up on it.
If you are active in your job searches you can also forget you had applied for that job earlier. If they call for an interview and you are not organized in your job search, you have no clue about the application and the position you applied for.
Job Search Tools
There are several tools available including the free version that can help track all these job search activities for you. Some can even send reminders to your email and mobile phone. Examples of these tools are 'job search log' and 'JibberJobber'.
7. Did Not Network or Be on the Mailing List for Job Offers
Some job vacancies are neither advertised online nor in print. They are available only to people on their mailing list or given to recruitment agencies. If you know the organizations you aspire to work for, register with them to be on their mailing list.
Alternatively, find contacts that can help you find and apply for these jobs.
Networking on Social Media for Job Opportunities
Networking is now one of the essential components of a job search as it can open doors for you. If you use social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter, be mindful how you use it as it can work for or against you.
Use your old and existing contacts and stay in touch, both online and offline. These can include your schools and university friends, your neighbors, your former co-workers, bosses, and friends.
Network on LinkedIn for Job Referral
If you have a LinkedIn account, check if you are connected to anyone who works or used to work in that company. Referrals from existing or previous employees are an added advantage and proven to at least get you an interview - only if your qualifications and job experiences satisfy their requirements.
Also, spend less time on Facebook and more time on LinkedIn. Do targeted connections that help you in your career and open more doors to opportunities.
8. Did Not Have a Positive Attitude
Don't be arrogant in the style and language you use in the cover letter. Be humble as it will work to your advantage.
Also, if you are negative about your present company or boss, it reflects badly on you. Recruiters can disqualify you even if your qualification and work experiences are good.
So, have a positive attitude as it will help in the interviews, in meeting new and old contacts, in networking calls, and everything else that you do.
9. Did Not Reveal the Right Information
If you are pregnant and are actively doing job searches, be transparent and tell the recruiter of your pregnancy, if it is not that obvious yet.
Interviews are conducted based on trust and if you are hired you want the company to know they hired the best person for the job and not someone who is out to deceive them. The best time to do this is when you received their letter of offer. However, if the pregnancy is obvious, deal with the subject matter during the interview stage.
Note: In some countries like the USA, you are not required to reveal your pregnancy or even your marital status.
10. Did Not Use the Right Keywords
If you submit your resume online, use the right keywords to match your qualifications and work experiences for your email and resume to be noticed.
When an employer or recruiter types a specific word to find the appropriate resume from their large database, chances are your resume will appear if it matches the search.
11. Did Not Ask for Help
If you ask for help, your job search can be easier.
So, get someone to review and make changes to your resume and cover letters. Or for any other assistance with your job applications.
Alternatively, you can try professional help but it will cost you.
12. Did Not Expand Your Skills
If you submit a resume with no work experience it can be a disadvantage.
So, if you are just starting a new career you can include your internship or your volunteering work within the industry that you are applying for.
Expand your skills and experiences by joining online classes (some are free), attend seminars, visit industry-related exhibitions, etc.
While you are on these platforms, take the opportunity to increase your network of contacts.
13. Did Not Follow the Rules of Job Search
Remember the dos and don'ts of a job search including those listed earlier.
To wrap up, these are what you must do when applying for a job:
- Write good resumes and cover letters.
- Be on time for the interview.
- Spend time preparing for the interview so you will not make mistakes.
- Dress appropriately for the job interview and make sure it is not messy, outdated, and too revealing.
- Do not apply too much perfume and make-up.
- Keep strong eye contact and have a firm handshake.
- Send a thank-you note after the interview.
- While it is OK to follow up with the recruiter after the interview, do not do it too often as it will annoy them and reduce your chances of being hired.
Follow all these tips and advice and you will find success in your job search.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Mazlan A
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on January 26, 2017:
You are most welcome Coffeequeeen. And thanks for dropping by.
Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on January 26, 2017:
You've definitely given some sound advice there. Thanks for sharing this hub, it's been most helpful.
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on September 18, 2014:
dhimanreena: Yes, these guidelines are very important and one should follow them. Thanks for the visit, and the comment.
Reena Dhiman on September 16, 2014:
All advice are very important and helpful to get a desired job.
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on June 15, 2014:
Thank you Hanif-Ibrahim. This list was compiled based on my discussion with one of the local recruiter, who was once an HR manager, for an Oil and Gas company.
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on May 15, 2013:
Emma, I hope you will be successful in your job search. I am glad you find this article useful. thanks for the visit.
Christy, thanks for the revisit, the votes and Share.
Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on May 14, 2013:
Useful details here! I agree that a customized cover letter is very important. It shows attention to detail and that you have done research on the current opening. Vote up and sharing too.
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on March 28, 2013:
Some good advice here. I am job hunting and your tips will come in handy - thanks.
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 29, 2012:
@krsharp05 , Good luck in your job search and I hope this article will help. Thanks for the compliment and the visit.
Kristi Sharp from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota. on August 28, 2012:
This is great information. I am in the process of looking for a job and these suggestions are going to help me tremendously. Thanks for sharing. -K
Christy Birmingham from British Columbia, Canada on August 27, 2012:
You are right that customized cover letters (not the easiest thing) are important to any job search.
Leah Lefler from Western New York on August 25, 2012:
This list should be checked by anyone currently looking for a job. One typo on a resume in today's market could ruin your chances for an interview. Excellent advice, greatstuff!
Mazlan A (author) from Malaysia on August 24, 2012:
@point2make: Thanks for the compliment and have a good weekend.
point2make on August 24, 2012:
Very good hub. Your points are excellent and if followed will help any job hunter achieve success. Good job....voted up.