Halloween is right around the corner and that makes me want to share some common and dreadful mistakes job seekers make that (maybe not as you think it is) can cost them a job.

A job search can be challenging at times and no matter how hard you try, you might not get the right results or responses. From sending a LinkedIn invite to a well thought out cover letter and from talking over the phone to final face to face interview, recruiters and interviewers out there get the best and not-so-best impressions on each candidate that they encounter. Here are some not-so-best impressions to avoid and some advice for job seekers on how not to repeat mistakes.

When reaching out to the recruiters don’t make the below mistakes

Typos and errors in Resume and Cover letter

Recruiters sift through hundreds of resumes and within seconds they can trace out the good ones from the pool easily. Any resumes with typos, grammar mistakes will be filtered out instantly. Horrifying errors to name a few: One of the resumes had ASS Manager for Assistant Manager, another one missed an alphabet ‘L’ in the word Public in Public Relations Specialist.

Solution: Read and re-read your resume. If you are not good at proofreading, get the help of your friend or have someone else go through your resume. That way they can spot some errors that you might have missed to catch. Grammarly is a good chrome extension to install on your computer to spot any mistakes in your writing and make your messages, documents, and emails clear, mistake-free, and effective.

Addressing the email to wrong employer or recruiter

‘Attention to detail’ - is a must have skill that hiring managers look for in a candidate. And they look for this skill from the very early stages of recruiting. Getting a cover letter that was addressed to a wrong employer/recruiter or seeing typos in the jobs title in the cover letter tell the hiring managers that you put little or no effort in checking the obvious details while approaching the recruiters/hiring managers.

Solution: Using a template can be so easy for you. But recruiters can recognize that the moment they see it. Try customizing the email and cover letter to highlight your background and how you can relate that to the job you are applying. Putting a little effort in customizing and personalizing will not only help you avoid any obvious mistakes in the cover letter but also it will help you stand out from the crowd.

Too long! More like an Essay

When connecting with recruiters with an email/LinkedIn message, sending too lengthy of an email won’t help at all. Recruiters get many messages and emails from job seekers and yours is not standing out from the rest when they see these lengthy message that provides too many vague details.

Solution: Be specific and get to the point. Make it short and sweet so that recruiters can read easily and yet get the point you are trying to put across in terms of your interest and passion in the job you are looking for. Go through the company profile and recruiters/hiring managers profile on LinkedIn. Write something specific from your research they shows them that you put in some effort to get to know them before you even approach them. This will surely get the recruiters and hiring managers to respond.

Lying on the resume

You may be having very little time to grab the attention of the recruiters but lying on your resume can come back to bite you. Even if you manage to get through the initial stages of interviews the truth will come out when they conduct your reference and background checks. You will be disqualified for the job you applied and chances are recruiters will put you in the “candidate will no longer be considered” list for any positions within their company.

Solution: Be honest. If you don’t have the relevant experience in the field that the recruiter is looking for mention it very clearly. If you can relate the job requirements to any of your volunteering experiences then highlight that in your resume/cover letter. Chances are they would appreciate your honesty and might recommend for a suitable position that is open with in the company.

When interviewing with a recruiter/hiring manager

Not following the 5 mins early rule.

I once had a candidate who reached an hour early and was waiting in the lobby. When asked he said, “I thought I will come early in case you all want to start early.” Well, recruiters and interviewers may not be available to entertain you if you don’t give them a notice ahead of time that you want to start the interview early. It is better to ask the recruiters one day before so the recruiters get enough time to coordinate the schedule with interviewers and see if they can be available for you. Don’t be that candidate who comes late for the interview too. If you can’t be on time for the interview then how can you be on time for work.

Solution: Let’s say you wanted to be mindful of the traffic and get to the interview location one hour or 30 mins early. Then I recommend you wait in your car, listen to something that makes your mind sharp. Step into the lobby only five minutes before the scheduled time. That way you are good. If you know the traffic can be horrible, start early. And if for some reason, you feel like you are going to be 5 mins late, then it is better to reach out to the recruiters, so she can let the interviewers know and they can be prepared instead of waiting impatiently.

Showing up with inappropriate attire

I remember a candidate showed up wearing a party dress and when asked she said she was planning on going to a function after the interview. Remember your first impression matters. When you show up with inappropriate attire you are being unprofessional. Even if you got the interview through someone you know, be respectful and dress appropriately.

Solution: If you don’t know what is considered as an appropriate dress code, then please reach out to your recruiters or one of your mentors and rely on their advice.

Wearing too much perfume or cologne

Once I did an interview where the interview room was not so big and when a candidate entered the room wearing a strong cologne it gave me a headache after 15 mins sitting through the interview. Finally, I had to cut the interview short. Chances are in an open space you might not know how strong the smell of your perfume or cologne is but when in an interview room the smell can be so overwhelming.

Solution: Wear something mild. Otherwise, it can be too distracting for the interviewers when the smell causes allergies or headaches and you wouldn’t get the full attention or the time you deserve.

Badmouthing past/present employers and team members

Recruiters and interviewers can be skeptical when you tell something negative about your past or present employer. This might create a question in their mind that you might actually be a part of the problem. The chances of avoiding such skepticism can be hard when you complain about your former boss or team members. This shows that you are not a team player.

Solution: If you had any issues with your previous employer/boss/team member clearly articulate what was the problem, what you did to solve the problem and what was the outcome. But never ever get into the practice of badmouthing.

What are some of the job search mistakes that you have seen job seekers make?


For more recruiting and interview insights, join us in San Francisco this January 30 - February 1, 2019, at #SRSC where talent acquisition leaders connect to leverage emerging recruiting practices.


Nisha Raghavan is the Talent Attraction and Employer Branding Specialist at the American Heart Association. Prior to this, she worked in the telecommunications and media industry to help attract, engage and retain talent. She writes about her Global HR experiences at her blog Your HR Buddy!! Connect with her on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @TheHrbuddy