Most people go through the work of applying and interviewing for a job with the intent of getting an offer at the end. But in the process, they unintentionally sabotage their chances by making the same mistakes over and over (and then wonder why they never get an offer). When two candidates have almost the same qualifications, the one making any of these mistakes can take that person out of the running.

Submitting a Generic Resume and Cover Letter

While there is nothing wrong with having a generic resume as a starting point for a specific type of job, it needs to be tailored to each posting for that type of job. Assuming you are vying for positions in the same career field, there will be different nuances between job postings that will require altering the base resume to better meet the requirements of each position.

Relying Too Heavily on the Online Submission Process

In this world of applicant tracking systems and online job searches, it is too easy to upload a resume and cover letter or fill out an application and then sit back and wait, and wait, and … hoping their scanning software picks up your resume for further screening. But what if it doesn’t?

Instead of sitting by the phone waiting, take a more proactive approach and contact the company’s Human Resources Department and ask them for someone who can discuss the job opening. Once in contact with that person, let them know you applied for their (named job) opening. This can lead to a conversation, and if the contact is interested in you, s/he can personally look for your application if it was not selected by the scanning software. Also, because many jobs are not listed, the contact may even tell you about jobs you didn’t know were open. This can lead to an even better job than you had originally applied for.

Not Using Industry-Specific Buzzwords

Speaking of scanning software, each one is programmed to look for specific keywords in resumes or applications submitted for each job posting. If those words are not found in your resume or application, you might be a perfect fit for the job but nobody will ever know you exist, because the scan did not select your resume for further screening by a human. You can tell which words keywords are because they are  same words used repeatedly throughout the job posting.

Not Doing Due Diligence

Hooray, your resume made it through, and you have been contacted for an interview! Now what? Most applicants start thinking about answers to potential questions, additional information they want the interviewer to know, selecting what they will wear, etc. And all of that is fine and things that need to get done, but also research and learn as much as you can about the company you may be working for. Knowing this information can take your interview dialogue deeper than it would have otherwise went. And it demonstrates to the interviewer that you did your homework before getting there for the interview.

Not Knowing your Worth in the Market

While many companies defer talking about wages until a second or later interview, some do it right up front. If faced with that situation, have an intelligent and realistic answer. Research the base salary for the position and then factor in your education and experience. If asked, let the interviewer know what you are making now and that you are flexible in their offer. However, have a realistic “market value” of your worth in mind and negotiate from that point.

Knowing how to avoid these career killers these can make the difference between getting your dream job and not even being considered.

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Kness retired in November 2007 as a Senior Noncommissioned Officer after serving 36 years of service with the Minnesota Army National Guard of which 32 of those years were in a full-time status along with being a traditional guardsman. Kness takes pride in being able to still help veterans, military members, and families as they struggle through veteran and dependent education issues.