7 Common Mistakes Job-Seekers Need to Avoid

From including a generic cover letter to lying in your job application, here are some rookie mistakes you absolutely need to avoid.
Carmen Teh
Writer, gradsingapore

Job-searching is stressful. You want to make sure you are applying for a job that you are well-suited for, brushing up on your interview skills, doing sufficient research about the employers, making a positive impression… the list continues.

With all the stress and pressure, it’s not uncommon for graduates to make blunders along the way. It’s a pretty strenuous process after all!

Here are some common mistakes that job-seekers make, which you should most definitely avoid.

1. Putting too much information on your résumé

Recruiters, especially those in coveted companies, have to sift through piles of résumés just for one vacant position.

They don’t have the time to read through all the subjects you took when you were in school, or the mini extracurricular activities you joined.

Your résumé should only contain information that are relevant to the job role or the company. Having too many additional, unrelated information may suggest to recruiters that you do not know what is required of the job or that you have not done enough research about the company.

2. Submitting a generic cover letter

We’ve all been there. We want to cast a wide net and apply for as many jobs as possible to increase our chances of a successful job application.

Customising your cover letter for each specific job vacancy is time-consuming, especially if you are applying to many companies. It would be much easier to send the same, generic one to every employer on your list – but is this a wise move to make?

The answer is no. Recruiters can tell when your cover letter is not tailored to the position and company, which is an obvious sign of your lack of sincerity and interest.

3. Relying only on job ads

Did you know that almost 70 percent of all jobs aren’t actually advertised? It’s a staggering number if you think about it.

The listings and ads that you see on job portals are not the only only vacancies out there, so don’t limit yourself to just those. You can apply speculatively by initiating contact with your ideal employer – but you have to know who to reach out to.

You can use social media tools, such as LinkedIn, to get in touch with hiring managers or the relevant department heads to ask if they have any opportunities relevant to your interests and skill sets.

4. Failing to network

Networking is essential, especially for fresh graduates who want to get their feet in the door of the industry they want to work in. Networking events, such as alumni gatherings, career talks and employer seminars, are great places to meet people who can become useful contacts for your job search.

The contacts you make during networking events can also give you insights to the industry of their profession and its job market. This will further prepare you to know what to expect when you’re applying for a job.

So, don’t skip out on the next networking session you’re invited to. Who knows –you may meet someone who can offer you a job! Or even become your career mentor.

5. Dressing inappropriately for job interviews

Getting an invitation to attend a job interview doesn’t necessarily mean you are guaranteed a job.

Some jobseekers make the mistake of thinking that recruiters are already impressed by their qualifications seeing as they’ve been shortlisted. As such, they make little effort to prep for the interview – especially in their appearance.

However, first impressions matter a lot. What you wear will be the first thing your interviewer notices. Dressing too casually may imply that you are not taking the interview seriously, and recruiters will be put off.

Hence, it’s important for you to do your research, especially on the company’s culture. This will help you find out how to best dress for the job interview.

6. Not knowing the legal hiring practices

Quite often, fresh grads are so focused on doing the necessary research and preparing for their job applications that they don’t think about the employment practices and guidelines that employers need to adhere to .

For instance, graduate jobseekers may not know that employers are not allowed to ask questions about age, gender or race in job application forms or during the job interview.

Graduates should look out for these red flags to avoid any form of discrimination or hiring bias.

7. Lying or exaggerating

Whether it is in your résumé or during your job interview, any form of lying or falsification of information is unacceptable.

It may be tempting to oversell your strengths to impress your employers, but if recruiters find out (seasoned ones can usually tell if you’re lying) that your statements are untruthful, your job application will be disregarded entirely.

What’s worse, you will be risking your reputation, especially if the industry you applied to is a small one. Word can get around fast. You don’t want to start off your career journey on the wrong foot and suffer the consequences in the long term.