10 Mistakes Keeping You From Getting an Interview

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You’ve sent out plenty of resumes, but you have had no luck landing interviews. You feel you have a desirable skill set and should be in high demand. Why aren’t employers calling? Consider these 10 mistakes job seekers frequently make, which might be preventing you from getting an interview:

1. Sending a sloppy resume. Many job applicants feel their qualifications should speak for themselves and that a resume’s appearance shouldn’t matter. However, hiring managers see a messy resume as an indication the candidate lacks professionalism and attention to detail. If you haven’t carefully proofread your resume for typos, grammatical mistakes and formatting problems, it might land in the “circular file.”

2. Not customizing your job-search materials. Sending out the same cover letter and resume to all companies isn’t likely to capture the attention of prospective employers. Take the time to research employers and customize your job-search materials by explaining why you’re interested in a particular position and how you could make a contribution to the company. For example, you might note in your cover letter, “My experience working for rapidly expanding, small organizations and managing related IT needs would be valuable as your firm moves into new markets across the state.”

3. Sharing too much/too little information. You might be including too much information if your resume is longer than two pages and you’re not applying for an executive-level position. So avoid going into too much detail about jobs held very early in your career or that do not directly relate to the job for which you are applying. Conversely, if the descriptions of your most recent positions are brief and vague (e.g., “managed the corporate network” and “used Windows XP”), you aren’t disclosing enough. Your goal is to give employers a clear idea of your skill set and what you have accomplished.

4. Appearing too arrogant. Even if you feel you are so knowledgeable about .NET development that you “practically invented .NET,” never say so on your job-search materials. Everyone has room for improvement, and overconfidence can be seen as a liability.

5. Focusing on your needs over the company’s needs. Yes, you are looking for a position that suits your preferences and interests. Hiring managers, however, want to know what you can do for the firm. Instead of saying, “I seek an employer that will allow me to work with Linux-based systems,” for example, try, “My strong expertise with Linux-based systems would be an asset to your organization.”

6. Failing to leverage your network. All your connections — both business and personal — can be a valuable resource during a job search. When seeking a new position, spread the word. You never know who might be able to help you.

7. Focusing on the Googles of the world. Many job seekers make the mistake of limiting their applications to firms with names they recognize such as industry leaders or companies ranked as excellent employers. While you shouldn’t overlook these organizations, make sure you’re also considering smaller and less well-known businesses. They might offer just what you’re seeking, including plenty of responsibility, advancement opportunities and a positive corporate culture.

8. Not following instructions. Always adhere to special requests from employers. If the job advertisement says the company wants candidates to submit a hard-copy resume, for instance, don’t challenge it. Sending your application via e-mail instead is likely to put you out of the running immediately.

9. Relying exclusively on online job ads. While you might find some opportunities through online job postings, you are limiting your search if this is your sole method. Networking, attending association meetings and contacting recruiters are just a few additional ways of uncovering job leads and potentially gaining interviews.

10. Failing to follow up. Finally, remember that once you send out your cover letter and resume, your work isn’t done. Sometimes a simple follow-up phone call or e-mail to a prospective employer can be all it takes to stand out from the competition. Often it’s the small actions — such as fixing a typo or broadening your search — that can make all the difference. With the right approach, interview requests will come more frequently.

Katherine Spencer Lee is executive director of Robert Half Technology, a provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis. She can be reached at klee@certmag.com.

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