The job search process is unforgiving. It doesn’t matter how many things you might be doing right, it just takes one wrong move, one misunderstanding, or one poor decision to entirely ruin your chances of getting the job.
As a job seeker, this reality can really be frightening — especially if you find yourself in a situation where you’re simply not getting interviews no matter how many job openings you apply to, and yet you don’t have a clue what you’re really doing wrong. So with that being said, here are the most common things I see job seekers doing all the time that actually end up sabotaging their chances of getting that all-important interview.
1. Standing out — but in a bad way
Standing out in a crowded field of job applicants is a smart move, but far too often the execution behind this concept ends up hurting job seekers more than it actually helps them. For instance, many job seekers try to stand out with their resumes by using fancy templates or even turning their resume into a full-fledged infographic. In the back of their minds they think, “With such a uniquely designed resume, I’ll surely get a leg up over all those other applicants with their typical uninspiring black-and-white resumes.” However, the reality is, uniquely formatting your resume just makes it harder for hiring managers to skim through your resume. Even more importantly, applicant tracking systems often can’t parse these fancy formats so your resume ends up being discarded completely.
2. Shooting yourself in the foot with an unprofessional online presence
Sometimes the reason you aren’t getting any interviews has nothing to do with what you’ve submitted in your application, but rather what job recruiters are finding out about you online. With how prevalent social media and internet culture has become, employers scour the online presence of all their serious candidates the way law enforcement would for a criminal fugitive. Whether it’s a vulgar tweet you might have made in the past or selfie showing you getting drunk at a nightclub, any of these sorts of things can immediately zero out your hiring chances.
3. Doing it all yourself
A “do-it-yourself” mentality is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s good to be independent and put your best foot forward when the going gets tough. But on the other hand, thinking you should always do everything yourself can blind you from the reality that sometimes it’s better to seek help.
Far too often I’ve witnessed job seekers struggle for weeks just to produce a subpar resume, when they could have been far better off hiring a professional resume writer to do the work for them. Of course, finding reliable help is oftentimes tricky in and of itself, so be sure to do your due diligence when it comes to picking out a resume service or career coach who you can rely on to get the job done right.
4. Failing to address the elephant in the room
Do you have long work gaps? Alternating experience in two unrelated fields? Or perhaps you come across as a job hopper?
While you might be tempted to just hope and pray that hiring managers aren’t going to catch on to concerning aspects of your work experience, it’s oftentimes better to take the initiative in addressing these issues head-on – especially if they’re something that can’t be missed.
The fact is, recruiters are trained to be skeptical and often assume the worst when left to their own imaginations. By offering a clear explanation in your cover letter, resume objective statement or your LinkedIn profile, you might just be able to convince hiring managers to overlook any glaring issues that may otherwise plague you.
5. Being inconsistent
Inconsistency erodes trust. One of the biggest blunders job seekers make is confusing recruiters with contradictory information. If your resume says you worked at a marketing firm from 2014 to 2017 as a “content marketing manager”, your LinkedIn profile better say the exact same thing, and not contradict your resume by listing your position as simply a “content marketer” or stating that you ended your job in 2016 for example. Inconsistencies like these often lead hiring managers to assume the worst – that you’re lying and not just making a trivial mistake.