How to avoid five of the most common job seeking pitfalls

Some simple mistakes on the job hunt often hold people back from the career opportunities they want. Canada is experiencing a period of relatively low unemployment right now, meaning jobs are more readily available than they were a few years back. However, this doesn’t mean that you can take shortcuts or skip the basic steps for getting hired.

Here are the five most common corners that candidates cut that keep them from landing the job.

Not customizing your resume for the job

Even if you have a polished, professional resume, don’t use it to apply for a job without tweaking it first. Consider it a template to start with, and then customize. Analyze the qualifications for the job and determine your most important, relevant credentials, then make sure that your resume highlights those front and centre.

Your application should make it clear that you have the ability to do the job and be successful at it, and that it is a natural progression for your career path. Employers will always be more impressed by a resume that is particularly relevant to their job over a generic one-size-fits-all document.

Here is how to quickly and easily optimize your resume for the job you really want.

Not sending a cover letter

Many people think that cover letters are outdated and that employers don’t read them anymore. A VP of HR that I worked with told me flat out that she never read them, so I looked into it. A recent Jobvite survey found that 26% of recruiters say they still find value in cover letters from job applicants. That’s more than one-quarter of employers who will be looking for your letter.

So, you should send one even if there’s a good chance it isn’t going to be read. If the employer does want to read your cover letter, you don’t want to be the candidate who didn’t send one. It’s better to put more effort into your application than less. Candidates who seem to be cutting corners before they’re even hired don’t get the job. Send a cover letter with your resume introducing yourself and expressing your interest in the job.

It doesn’t have to be long. Here’s how to write a cover letter in just six sentences.

Trying to wing it at the interview

Just because you are confident in your ability to do the job doesn’t mean you can easily cruise through a professional job interview without doing any homework. You need to be informed about the company and prepared to speak about your past work and accomplishments in a way that is relevant to them.

Here’s how to prepare for your next big interview like a pro.

Not sending a thank-you note after the interview

When an employer has taken the time to meet with you and discuss your candidacy, thanking them for their time is just good manners. It’s also good strategy. Only about half of candidates send a thank you note after job interviews. You want to be in the group that takes the time to show proper etiquette and puts more effort into making a positive impression.

Here’s how to write a thank you note in just four sentences.

Choosing the wrong references

A recent survey found that one third of candidates who have already had their resumes selected, been interviewed, and are at the final stages of the hiring process – still lose out on jobs because of their choice of references.

Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t just pick your previous manager by default. Make sure your references are people who like you, think well of your work ethic and abilities, and would be happy to work with you again.

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