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84% of Job Seekers Make This Rookie Mistake — And It’s Totally Avoidable

Updated July 29, 2016
by Susan Shain
Contributor

Looking for a new job is always tough.

But it’s especially sucky when you’re getting tons of rejections… and have no idea what you’re doing wrong.

Although the job market has greatly improved over the past few years, the competition is still stiff — and sometimes it’s the little things that make your application end up in the recycling bin.

A new CareerBuilder survey of more than 3,000 full-time workers across the country revealed five common mistakes made by job seekers.

And some of them are so small, you probably don’t even know you’re making them…

1. Sending a Generic Resume

If you’re sending the same resume to every employer, you might as well not even bother.

Hiring managers can spot generic applications a mile away, and will assume you don’t care about getting the job if you don’t care enough to bother tailoring your application.

Customizing your resume is easy, and 54% of job seekers don’t do it.

Don’t be like them.

2. Not Using the Hiring Manager’s Name

The most common mistake, according to CareerBuilder?

Not personalizing your cover letter with the hiring manager’s name.

A whopping 84% of job seekers don’t do this, instead starting their letters with a “Dear Hiring Manager” or “To Whom it May Concern.”

It just takes a little sleuthing to find the hiring manager’s name. First, try calling the employer and asking who it is.

If that doesn’t work, at least find the name of the human resources manager by doing a quick Google or LinkedIn search.  

3. Forgetting a Cover Letter

I can’t even believe this is a thing. Not including a cover letter is just madness.

Don’t be like 45% of job seekers — send a cover letter with your resume. That’s where you can truly sell yourself and explain why you want a particular job.

If you need some inspiration, check out this ultra-sweet cover letter.

4. Neglecting to Follow Up

Submitted your application? Nailed your interview? Awesome, but your work’s not done yet!

If you don’t hear back from an employer after applying, follow up.

More than a third of job seekers (37%) don’t do this and — who knows? — your application could’ve gotten lost in the interwebs. So it’s worth ONE quick phone call or email to make sure it was received.

5. Not Sending a Thank-You Note

Don’t forget the thank-you note, either; it’s an easy step 57% of job seekers don’t take.

Buy some greeting cards and a pack of stamps, and keep them in your desk. As soon as you return from an interview, send that sucker off!

Why You Should Stop Making These Mistakes

These steps may sound small, but they add up. If you don’t believe me, just ask Erin O’Neill, our People and Culture Manager here at The Penny Hoarder.

Not only does she see all of the applications we receive — saying “generic resumes are the WORST” — but her unique approach is one of the reasons she was hired.

“I didn’t have time to create a new dope resume tailored to the job, which is what I knew I had to do to get noticed,” O’Neill says.

So she bought a $15 resume template off Etsy and edited it to reflect her info. In her cover letter, she was “brutally honest,” even risking “sounding like a nutter” to show her personality and how much she wanted the job.

Oh, and…

“I also included ‘Moves like Jagger’ on my skill set,” she says, “but you’d have to check with Kyle” — The Penny Hoarder’s founder and CEO — “on whether that factored into my success.”

Kyle’s response?

“Totally. The resumes all start to look alike after a while, so anything you can do to stand out is worth it!”

Your Turn: Have you ever made any of these job-hunting mistakes?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.

by Susan Shain
Contributor for The Penny Hoarder

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