Are You Annoying Potential Employers?

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Competition for jobs is fierce, so don’t make these critical mistakes when applying for a job.

1. Don’t send in a generic resume or cover letter. You might as well just not send anything at all. Hiring managers are busy — not stupid — and they can spot a copy and paste template from a mile away. And unless your goal is to see how fast your resume can land in the trash, do not use one of those canned, overly used objective statements either.

Example: “Seeking a challenging position utilizing my experience, education, and creativity…”

This says nothing!

2. If you are using clip art or wacky fonts, stop now. You will not impress anyone. If you continue this madness, you will either come off as immature or you will prove that your technology skills are outdated by demonstrating your desktop publishing skills from two decades ago.

3. If a job requires a job application, fill it out completely. Don’t send in a resume as a substitute and write in “see resume” throughout the application. This is irritating and your application will not even be considered.

4. If you have an advanced degree, there is no need to put it behind your name. No one is really impressed by “John Smith, MBA.” I recently polled some recruiters and they actually laugh at people who do this. It’s safer to keep all degree references in your education section. It is also a little nonsensical to list your GPA if you have been out of college for more than a few years.

5. After you send in your application packet, do not call repeatedly to see if it has been received or to see if they have made a decision. There is also no need to call over and over to tell them why you are the perfect candidate. One follow up call is enough. If you contact them repeatedly, you will come off as being desperate.

If you are the perfect fit, they will call.

I know you are thinking that someone told you to do it. Well, some people (especially people with sales backgrounds) have encouraged this practice for far too long calling it “good follow up.” These same sales people like to throw around the phrase, “let’s touch base.” Take my word for it and do not listen to them.

So there you have it — five critical faux pas you should avoid like the plague if you are job hunting (unless you want to be annoying).


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  • Jay
    The tips are insightful, but it would be nice to reference a sample of good objectives based on the field of interest and a good way to make the follow up phone call work for you. Any recommends on these items.
  • Regina
    Thanks for the advice. I've made my one call so now I'll sit tight.
  • Kristine
    Evidentally, Jennifer did not read or understand  the full explanation of Tip #4.  She said to not include your degree title within your name descripition.  She did not say to not include your Education experience on your resume at all--that would be ridiculous.  Like it says, keep all your degree references in the education section of your resume.
  • Antonette
    Thank you so much for the above advice in regard to prevent annoying your potential employer.Everything you posted makes sense.  I do agree with all your tips and as I read, I always learn something new each time and appreciate it!!
  • Orland
    When will you have an advice column addressing the problem of ageism in hiring the 50-plus applicant?
  • Carl Tope
    Carl Tope
    I take issue with #1 A cover letter can be customized for a particular position by highlighting why you would be a good fit. A Resume' is who you are that does not change with every submission to a potential employer.
  • Will
    I agree with Jennifer's comment above. I worked hard for my degree. I don't think it hurts to place an MPA after my name. Especially in the nonprofit and public sectors it is something to distinguish me apart from others.
  • Janet
    It's a 'sticky wicket' in this economy, esp. if the job your going after is 'Sales'.You want to appear assertive but also not desparate!  Also, it's the first time looking for a job - now that I'm over '50'.  I am being interviwed by gals that still have acne!  LOLGOOD LUCK to us All - we need to keep Positive, focused and certainly energetic to find a perfect fit ! !
  • Jennifer
    I completely disagree with tip #4 (If you have an advanced degree, there is no need to put it behind your name).  I strongly believe that you have to consider what kind of job you are applying for before you decide whether or not to include your degree.  I know from experience that a lot of jobs in the non-profit and criminal justice sectors base a lot of their decisions regarding who to even consider for an interview based on their level of education.  Many jobs based on grants have minimum requirements for education level.  As with everything in life, you must be careful when dealing with absolutes, so saying you should not note your degree should be based on individual circumstances and conditions.
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