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11 classic mistakes to avoid when applying for a job

Don’t blow your next job application with any of these rookie mistakes. Make sure that you’re giving yourself the best possible chance at that dream position and pay attention to these common job application mistakes.


1. Applying for too many jobs

When you’re searching for job opportunities, it’s good to keep an open mind and cast a wide net. That said, each job application requires time, energy and research. If you’re valuing quantity over quality, step back and try to prioritize the positions that interest you the most.


2. Turning in a generic resume that hasn’t been tailored

Each job application requires a slightly different resume. It’s crucial to investigate what exactly a job entails so that you can highlight your relevant experience on your resume. You may not be shifting around much on your resume, but it’s still important that each time you apply for a job, you’re sending in application materials that are catered to a specific position.


job application mistakes


3. Including errors on your resume

Your resume should be 100% accurate without any mistakes, typos or misspellings. That means it’s probably a good idea to give it a thorough edit 3 or 4 times before you send it in. It may also be worth asking a trusted friend or family member to look over it. You never know what tiny mistake you might have missed.


4. Having too much information in your cover letter

A cover letter should let you expand on your work experience, professional aspirations and accomplishments – not be a tell-all history of your life. A cover letter should be succinct and straightforward and always relevant to the position you’re applying for. Keep it to one page.


5. Missing the deadline

If you can’t follow directions and turn in a job application on time it shows a lack of commitment and responsibility on your part. You don’t want to come off as unprofessional from the very start.


6. Refusing to write a cover letter

Refusing to write a cover letter will lower your chances of getting called in for an interview. It’s a fundamental element of a professional introduction during the hiring process. Even if they aren’t asked for, cover letters are an important tool that can help a job candidate explain their experience and why they are interested in a position.


job application mistakes


7. Not following instructions

Pay close attention to each job and what application materials are asked for. Following these instructions correctly is an important part of your application – it tests whether or not you can follow directions, an important skill for any job. If you have any questions about the job application or what to turn in, it’s best to reach out to the hiring manager to clarify any uncertainties.


8. Not applying to enough jobs

While going overboard with job applications can end up setting you back, so can not sending out enough applications. Dedicate a few hours each week towards finding open positions and then narrow down your list to 2-5 jobs you can apply to each week. It’s important that you’re sending in applications of quality, but that you’re still making sure your resume is in enough stacks. Applying to jobs can be time-consuming – many consider it a full-time job in itself.


9. Applying for positions you’re clearly unfit for

Be smart about where you’re spending time applying to. If you don’t have a shot at a position – like it requires 5 years of experience and you have 0 – move on and look for something that is a little more catered to your prior experience.


10. Not following up

Always take the time to reach out and thank your interviewer. It’s a gesture that could help give you the edge in a competitive search for candidates.


11. Forgetting to line up your references

Make sure your references know you’ve listed them as references and that all of their information is listed correctly. If their job positions have changed, include whatever position they held when you were working with them as a way to contextualize.



Apply today to boost your career with an international internship (and avoid all of these job application mistakes!)




1. based on The grindstone, by Kathryn Decker, CC-by-2.0

2. based on College of DuPage Hosts Career Fair 2015 17, by COD Newsroom, CC-by-2.0

3. based on Application – glasses – pen, by COD Newsroom, CC-by-2.0

Photos and blog by Elizabeth Trovall

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