Three Costly Mistakes by Job Seekers

Do you feel like you’re putting lots of effort into your job search but not seeing results?

Sometimes, job seekers feel discouraged by sending out dozens of resumes and not getting interviews. Or getting lots of interviews, but never converting them into job offers.

The hiring process is different for every organization, so I can’t speculate as to why someone may not be experiencing success. There are many possible reasons. However, lately I’ve noticed a few common mistakes among students and recent grads.

Not showing enough enthusiasm for the job

Potential employers can tell when you’re just not that into them. They can tell by your cover letter, interview responses, follow-up, and attitude throughout the whole process. Let’s face it – it’s tough to develop a sense of enthusiasm for one particular job when you’re applying to 30 or 40. That’s why you need to research the company and the specific position – so that you can customize your application materials and speak in a genuine, informed way about why you want to work there. No one wants to hire someone with a “meh…I’ll take anything” attitude. If you want a particular job, you need to show it.

Over-sharing on the internet

The subject of inappropriate content in social media profiles has been covered extensively. At this point, I think most people realize that it’s not okay to post pictures of you doing kegstands or snorting coke online, because research shows as many as 80% of potential employers look you up. But what about your everyday status updates? If you’re one of those people who updates your social network status 40 times per day, you risk looking less professional in the eyes of an employer. Does your potential boss really need to know that you got in a fight with your parents, or that you’re trying to lose 20 pounds, or (the most damaging) that you’re feeling desperate because no one will hire you? Just as you are selective and strategic about what you share in an interview, use discretion with what you allow potential employers to find when they dig for information about you online.

Missing the small details

Many employers receive hundreds of applications for every job opening. You’d be surprised how easy it is for them to rule you out based on a small error – poor grammar, a typo, calling someone by the wrong name, misunderstanding the job description – because they have tons of other qualified candidates lined up. And sometimes it’s about what you’re not doing, such as the candidate who spends 3 hours getting a tour of the company and interviewing with senior execs, and does not send a thank you note. Always send thank you notes after people take the time to interview you. It’s a simple step, but forgetting to send one can put you at a disadvantage.

Cultivating a sense of enthusiasm for the job, being strategic about what you share online, and paying attention to the nuances of the job search process can help you succeed.

I’d like to hear from other recruiters and career services personnel, what are some common mistakes you see job seekers making? What can they do to fix these mistakes?


Dan Klamm is the Outreach & Marketing Coordinator for Syracuse University Career Services.  In his position, he is responsible for student engagement with Career Services.  This includes managing the marketing campaigns for events and programs, leading social media initiatives, and fostering relationships with people across campus to build awareness of the office.  Connect with him on Twitter @DanKlamm and LinkedIn.

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4 Responses to “Three Costly Mistakes by Job Seekers”

  1. Dan, nice post. I have to say, I agree with your 3rd point especially. I’m seeing an enormous uptick in candidates who are not sending thank you notes after interviewing. A personal note is preferred but even an email is better than not sending anything at all. If you’re interviewing, you should be getting the interviewer’s business card. if you have their card, you have their contact information and there’s no excuse for not sending something immediately post-interview. You’re right in saying that it’s that small bit that might give you the edge. If it comes down to you and another candidate and that other candidate has sent me a thank you, guess who’s getting the job!
    This, though, falls a close second to an unedited resume. As a staffing professional, I see hundreds of resumes every week and have noticed an upswing in this as well. Respect yourself and your potential future employer enough to make sure your resume is edited properly. Double check your software list and make sure the programs are spelled and capitalized correctly. Have someone else review it (your English professor, perhaps!) and do not rely on spell check to catch everything!

    • avatar Dan Klamm says:

      Thanks for the comment, Melissa. I’m always surprised when I see students with spelling errors on their resumes. I’ve seen people incorrectly spell the name of their university, their current employer, and even their own name! It only takes a few minutes to read it over and have another person check it, yet some people skip this step.

  2. Another vote for the importance of sending a “Thank You” note. When I was hired for my first biotech job, I noticed the Thank You card I had sent pinned to my supervisor’s bulletin board – because she loved cats…. so the picture on the note was, of course, a cat. This was especially effective because I, too, had a cat at the time so the connection was genuine.

    • avatar Dan Klamm says:

      Thanks for the comment, Elizabeth. So good to hear that your supervisor valued your thank you note! And I love that you infused it with a genuine connection (cats) instead of writing a generic note.

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