Updated: Jun. 08, 2023
These tiny mistakes can make the difference between getting the job and getting cut, especially in a tight job market. Here's how to put yourself ahead of the pack.
JOSE LUIS PELAEZ INC/GETTY IMAGES
Job-hunting mistakes that take you out of the running
During my 12 years as a hiring manager, I’ve seen just about every mistake job applicants can make. I’m talking everything from candidates overselling their skills to having emotional outbursts during an interview to trying to use someone else’s résumé. (Yes, really.) But most times, it’s the subtle mistakes that trip people up, and that’s often about how you present yourself on your résumé or in a first meeting, as well as how you handle tricky interview questions. This is true of tech jobs, service jobs and everything in between.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering, Why am I not getting hired? Well, I have a few ideas—and know how to fix them. While most of these mistakes aren’t deal-breakers in and of themselves (except lying, which is almost always a game-ender), they can make the difference between getting an interview and getting cut, especially in a tight job market. Some of them are also bad work habits that you should stop doing in your current job too. Whether you’re looking for a better job or you want to change careers, here’s what you need to know to stand out in the right way.
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Not tweaking your résumé for the job
This is the most common mistake I see, and hiring intel 101 when it comes to why you’re not getting hired. Gone are the days when you could use a generic résumé and send it out to multiple companies. Thanks to automated hiring software and recruiters looking for very specific skill sets, having a mismatch between your résumé and the job description can be an automatic cut, even before a human being sets eyes on your résumé. This means that unless you’re using the right keywords in the right contexts, you might not even get a chance to interview. I’ve seen this happen to some great candidates.
What to do instead: Take a few minutes to customize your résumé and cover letter before applying. Read the job description carefully, and then make sure you’re listing the skills noted, with the same industry words and titles noted. For instance, if they are looking for a “software engineer,” don’t write “software programmer,” even if you think the jobs are essentially the same thing.