There are an awful lot of job seekers who think they have a good grasp of the jobs they apply to, when in fact they obviously do not. You could be one of them! If so, your chances of successfully getting and passing interviews, passing tests of your competency, getting hired and then keeping jobs are extremely slim – and you’re wasting both the employers time and your own!
I keep chatting both with job seekers and with employer’s, and while I’m not the only one doing this, I’ve got to tell you, if you could hear the things I hear, you’d be surprised.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make is not meeting the essential requirements of the job; assuming incorrectly that once you get the interview, you will wow them with your appearance and charm and talk them into hiring you. Sorry, you’re not making the short list to interview. When they say you must have a post-secondary degree or diploma, don’t apply if you don’t. If they say post-secondary education is an asset on the other hand, then it’s a bonus if you have it but not essential. Know the difference!
If the job posting calls for 5 years’ experience and you’re fresh out of school, this means you are an entry-level job seeker considering a job requiring more than you can currently offer; you’re going for a job you aren’t qualified for in other words. You need to refocus on applying for an entry-level job in your field. The on-the-job training and support you need is not going to be provided by the company looking for someone with 5 years’ experience. When applying for a job requiring 6 months to a year experience, this is not the time to put down that you have 25 years’ experience in the industry. No, that isn’t a bonus; you’re over-qualified.
One sure thing you can do to annoy an employer and clearly demonstrate your inability to follow clear directions is to apply for a job in any way other than that specified by the employer. If it says to apply by email, don’t deliver your application in person or fax it over. They want an electronic version of your resume for a reason. If you can’t follow this simple and clear direction, you’d likely ignore clear direction if they hired you, and they won’t.
As for some test of your competency, all those written questions they have posed to you have been thought out and asked for a reason. Don’t leave questions blank or write the word, “pass” (What were you thinking?). Follow the instructions – answer the questions.
People at interviews make similar mistakes. You can’t expect to be hired by the employer if you deem a question they ask you dumb. What to you is unusual or yes even dumb, serves some purpose and just answer the question to the best of your ability. I’m not referring to illegal questions like age, marital status or religion by the way. Make sure your reply doesn’t insult the interviewer. If they ask you, “Tell me about your office administration experience”, don’t say, “I think requiring office administration experience is a mistake. I can pick it up as I go.” You clearly have no idea why this is essential and you’re also insulting the employer and every other applicant who put in the effort to get some formal education and then acquired the experience before applying.
One interviewer I was speaking with recently told me that he’s had a couple of people do something unusual in the last two rounds of interviewing that he hopes is not a trend. All applicants get asked the same questions and two of these applicants replied with some version of, “Well, I’d rather talk about…” They chose not to actually answer the question at all, even when directly asked a second time, essentially removing themselves from the selection process.” The question wasn’t illegal, nor was it one of those odd questions designed to catch you off your feet. Answer the question asked.
Now another key mistake is failing to correctly understand what the job actually is that you are applying to. Job titles may be ambiguous. You can look at 6 “Customer Relations Officer” postings, and you’ll see vastly different requirements and responsibilities in each. So firing off the same resume and cover letter to each isn’t going to get you six interviews; far likely not even one. What a waste of your time. Failing to understand the jobs you are applying for and failing to send individualized targeted resumes to each is only going to prolong your job search and have you blaming everyone but yourself.
One last thing I will pass on to you from a woman who interviews new applicants for a living. She told me that people rejected for interviews continue to send in the same resumes for employment in the future without upgrading their education or getting the experience they lacked in previous applications. If you don’t get to the interview stage, you’re not marketing yourself well enough and need to find out why. If you constantly see a job advertised for that you are applying to, find out what you are lacking.
The key to success is to clearly understand the jobs you apply to and match your skills and qualifications to the employer’s needs. Change your perspective and look at how you present yourself from the employer’s point of view.