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Three Things Not to Do When Applying for a Job

Avoiding these three pitfalls will help you stand out from the other job applicants.

Once we earn our college degree, the next step for most of us is to start applying for jobs. All the papers, exams and countless hours spent in classes have prepared us to take the first steps towards our dream career. The job search can be stressful, but avoiding these three pitfalls will help you stand out from the other applicants:

Skipping over the application.

If an organization requests that you complete an application, make sure you take the time to complete it. Simply attaching a resume or writing “please see resume” in the application blanks is not sufficient and will send you straight to the “No” pile. Applications allow the employer – particularly the human resources department – to control which information is provided so that they can streamline the reviewing process. However, resumes put control in the hands of applicants, who often provide information that is unnecessary or disorganized. The more the reviewer has to work to find relevant information, the less likely it is you will get an interview. You can still attach your resume, but the completed application is the first thing the organization will look at when they decide who to interview. 

Hounding the organization. 

You submitted your completed application by the deadline, but you haven’t heard anything. What do you do? One thing you don’t want to do is call the organization several times a week to find out when you’re going to be interviewed. The hiring process takes time, especially when an organization receives hundreds of applications for a single position. Calling once a week to check on your application is appropriate, but calling more frequently is considered hounding – even harassing – and it isn’t going to reflect favorably on you or increase your chances of being hired.

Making a bad impression.

There are several moments throughout the job application process where it is crucial that you make a good impression. If you are attending a networking event, make sure you dress appropriately and conduct yourself professionally because you never know if you will meet a future employer. If you submitted an online job application, an employer would likely request a phone interview before bringing you in to meet the hiring manager. Don’t take the call if you’re in the middle of something else; instead, make an appointment for when you will be available to talk without distractions. If you are lucky enough to get an in-person interview, remember that you are essentially being interviewed by everyone in the organization, from the hiring manager to the secretary. First impressions matter, even when you’re chatting with someone who doesn’t seem to have any authority in the hiring process, such as the receptionist. Be friendly, professional and engaged when you meet your potential future colleagues.

Starting the job hunt isn’t easy, but paying attention to the little things will make a difference. Observe the old saying of “crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s” in regard to your application and/or resume, hold back on the frequency with which you contact the organization regarding your application, and project a professional and friendly image when interacting with anyone associated with the company. These are all ways that you can make a favorable impression, increase your chances of getting an interview and land your dream job.

Jack McCallum has been with the online business department at Herzing University since 2011. When not teaching, she serves as the President/Principal Consultant for HR Balance LLC, a consulting company specializing in human resources management, organizational development, leadership coaching, and training/development. She started HR Balance LLC in 2003 after years of serving in a leadership capacity for a variety of for-profit and non-profit organizations. A keynote speaker and presenter, Jack has served as an industry expert for radio and print media.

* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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