Barbara Safani 14 Comments

In honor of Halloween, this month’s Career Collective topic is scary resume and career mistakes. Here are the top ten mistakes I see job seekers make.

  1. Inflate their qualifications or lie on their resume. While a resume is not a legal document, it should be an accurate representation of your experience and achievements. I advocate for showing your employment history in the best possible light, buy lying is never wise.
  2. Forget to proofread their resume. One of the easiest ways to show an employer you don’t pay much attention to details is to submit a resume with a typo. Check, double-check, and triple check your document. Use spell check and ask a few different people to proof the resume before sending it to employers.
  3. Send the same generic cover letter to every employer. The cover letter is the perfect opportunity to make a connection with the employer and explain how you can help solve their problems. Don’t go vanilla here. Tailor your cover letter to the employer and position you are applying to.
  4. Neglect to research the company before the interview. With so much information on the Internet there is no excuse for not knowing about the company you are interviewing with. Use Vault, Glassdoor, WetFeet, Jigsaw, and LinkedIn to unearth important information about the companies and people you are interviewing with and don’t forget to take advantage of the research resources available at many public libraries.
  5. Ask everyone they know for a job. Unless you want your friends and colleagues to stop returning your calls, don’t just ask everyone you know for a job. Instead ask for information about a company, a person, an industry, etc. Let your contacts know you value their knowledge and insights. Through these exploratory conversations they may be able to point you in the direction of a possible job opportunity even if they can’t help you land that job directly.
  6. Neglect to send a thank you letter following an interview. It’s not just a courtesy. It is an opportunity to make a second impression on the person you just interviewed with and remain top of mind. Send the thank you letter within 24 hours of the interview. A few paragraphs with a thank you and a recap of why you are the perfect match for the job can help keep you on the hiring manager’s short list.
  7. Fail to leverage their network. Some people feel that reaching out to their network for contacts means asking for favors. It doesn’t. See #5.
  8. Snub social media. Imagine being able to go into the offices of everyone you know and look through their Roledex (remember them). That’s what social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to do.
  9. Complain. It’s easy to blame the company or the economy for your job search frustrations. But it won’t get you a job any faster. Find a few close confidents you can vent to and don’t spread your frustration to others. Keep a journal to help you chronicle your search journey and help get your feelings out.
  10. Give up. This is perhaps the scariest one of all. And there are a lot of people out there that have given up. Unemployment benefits won’t last forever. At some point you will have to get back in the game. If you have dropped out of the race for several months, getting back in is much harder. Keep at it. Plan job search activities every day. You will be scheduling meetings with friends and colleagues, doing Internet research, building your online network, working on your resume, practicing your elevator pitch, etc. There is a lot to do. Job search is a full-time job. Now’s not the time to take a vacation.

Read what my colleagues have to say about scary resume and career mistakes here.