Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Posted by Judy Anne Cavey on Nov 25, 2010 in , , | No Comments

Top Ten To Remember

The following are the most common mistakes people make when looking for a job. It was originally compiled by a Human Resource professional and now updated by me.

  • Don’t follow instructions on the application or don’t file before the deadline.
  • Don’t apply for the job opening.
  • Make mistakes in spelling and grammar.
  • Submit an application that is dirty and wrinkled.
  • Forget to include a resume.
  • Make vague statements about their qualifications.
  • Are late to the interview, or don’t show up at all.
  • Don’t know anything about the company where they are applying.
  • Lie about experience, training or education.
  • Don’t include good references.


If the job you want calls for an application, pick it up and take it home. Be sure to read the entire application carefully before filling out anything. On a blank piece of paper or use your computer, write answers to the questions. Then, transfer that information onto the application carefully. Make sure you know the deadline for turning in the application and your resume. Michael Farr’s book, “The Very Quick Job Search”, has a chapter devoted to applications and how to best deal with them if you feel insecure about filling out one.

If there is a specific position open that interests you, put that down, using the exact wording the company used and any job number. With no opening available, or if you don’t want to limit your possibilities, you may want to put down a department instead. This is usually done if you are giving the application and resume to someone with whom you have networked.

Spelling and grammar errors are some of the most common–and unnecessary–mistakes. If you put all of your answers on your computer, use the spell checker to eliminate any errors. Potential employers do look for errors and eliminate applicants easily when they notice them.

Applications and resumes submitted dirty or wrinkled will give a potential employer a good idea how your work would be turned in if they hired you. Make sure you put them in an envelope or professional folder. They must be in perfect condition when they arrive in the potential employers hands.

Always submit your resume and cover letter with an application. It is much better they see your resume, since applications are designed with the sole purpose of weeding people out. If your cover letter and resume look great because you’ve highlighted your strengths, but the application highlights your weaknesses, you always want to have the edge submitting a resume.

The statements you make on an application should be clear, nothing vague or incomplete. Don’t leave blanks on the application if you can help it. If something does not apply, put “N/A” (not applicable) in the space. Don’t use slang or abbreviations. Most people find it difficult to remember dates of employment and all the tasks they performed. Using the information on your resume to fill in the application makes the task easier and leaves less room for error.

Your Interview

Never be late to an interview. If you don’t show up, cross that company off your list, they won’t reschedule. If for some reason an emergency arises, call the interviewer to let them know you will be unable to make the interview due to an emergency and ask to reschedule, if possible. Something else to consider is this; if you networked to get this interview, the person who is your contact within the company will not want to look foolish for recommending you, so be sure to put your best effort into being on time and presenting yourself well.

The Company

Know as much as you can about the job you are interested in and the company itself. Often internet sites can provide information about the company directly and indirect information about the industry in general. Your networking connection can provide additional information to assist you in gathering as much as you can before the interview. This knowledge will come in handy, you’ll want to ask questions based on the information you have collected. It shows the interviewer you are truly interested in their company, not just looking for any job you can find.

The Truth…and nothing but

Lie about your experience, training or education and you will be looking for another job sooner than later. Employers verify the information on applications and resumes, make no mistake about that. People have been fired for “embellishing” the truth.


Always have a list of good references to put on an application and put on a separate sheet to bring with you to an interview, just in case they ask for them. These are not your “bff’s” or a relative. The references you want are people who know your skills, work ethic and history, ask them for a written recommendation. In their professional letter, they should explain, in detail, what you have done. Make sure you make copies of these letters and keep the original in the file you set up for your job information. Don’t forget to include any volunteer experience, summer jobs and extra curricular activities at school, have those who supervised you write letters of recommendation.

Check It Again

Read your finished application over at least two times, slowly and carefully. Then, have someone else look over your finished application for errors and omissions. When you take your job search seriously, you can limit costly mistakes which take you out of the running for a good position. Careful attention to the job search process, and all it entails, will guarantee positive results.

©2009 Judy Anne Cavey, who resides in the S.F. Bay Area of California, is a credentialed, certified, higher education instructor who taught Work Experience/Cooperative Education and ESL at three community colleges. She is also a freelance writer and grant writer currently authoring a textbook, has designed other learning programs, and worked with several nonprofits. Her Edublog, “Work Experience”, is a not-for-profit endeavor designed to assist job seekers of all ages. http://workforcedevelopment.edublogs.org/