Common Job Application Mistakes To Avoid

Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck

Career Counselor

Whether applying online or in person, you will often be asked to fill out an application. Applications are usually the first step in the screening process for applicants. Since the application can be what helps or hurts your chances of moving forward to an interview, it is an important step. While they may seem straight forward, there are some things you need to keep in mind when filling one out. Here are some tips to make sure your application moves you forward in the hiring process.

Read and Follow Instructions

While this may seem obvious, many people miss out on jobs because they simply didn’t follow the instructions. It is important to read through all of the directions given when applying for a job and filling out an application. Pay attention to information required, attachments requested and any deadlines. It may seem straightforward, but you don’t want a little mistake on your application costing you the job. Also, employers want to hire someone who can follow instructions. If you fail to do this in your application it may be assumed you would do the same on the job.

Submit Complete Applications

If the employer is asking you for information on the application there is a reason. It is common for computer software to scan applications to compile the information about each candidate. If you leave a section blank it can be considered an incomplete application and may get your resume taken out of the applicant pool. Although tempting, avoid simply stating “see attached” when asked for your resume. While it can be time consuming, you will want to type or copy and paste information from your resume into their application- even if you still need to attach your resume. Also, while it may be temping to leave salary requirements blank, it’s important to include something in that section. If you do not want to list specific numbers you may want to write “negotiable” or “open”. If there is a section that does not apply to you write something like “N/A” for not applicable. Again, this assures that your application will not be considered incomplete.

Check for Spelling and Grammatical Errors

You want your application to be error free. Make sure you have checked for any errors in spelling or grammar. Your application is a reflection of you. Employers are looking at your attention to detail and the time and effort you put into your application. If they see errors they are likely to assume that you would make mistakes while working for them or that you aren’t taking your job application seriously. Unlike your resume, you may not have access to spellcheck. This means you need to take extra time to look over you application and you may want to have someone else review it before turning it in.

Be a Professional

Make sure if your application asks for your email address that you use a professional one. While you may have had the same email forever, something like superstud@yahoo.com is not the impression you want to make. Use an address that is simple, such as your name. If you don’t already have one now would be the time to create a professional email address. You also want to make sure you have a professional voicemail message on your phone. Once you put your phone number on applications employers may be contacting you. You do not want to be embarrassed by what an employer might hear.

Present Accurate Information

It is important that everything you include on your application is accurate. Before filling it out, make sure you have gathered any information you may need. This could include names and dates of past employment and contact information for references. Information on your resume and application, if submitting both, also need to match. If the employer believes you are being inconsistent or that information is inaccurate it will keep you from moving forward.

Pay Attention to Dates and Deadlines

Pay attention to any dates or deadlines for the application. These deadlines are not flexible; you must make sure to submit all of your application materials by this date. Don’t wait until the last minute as it can take time to fill out your application well. If finding a job is a priority, make sure to build time for applying into your schedule. When possible, it is better to apply sooner rather than later to a position that is available. You never know how long the position will be open.

Provide Detailed Information

Your application shouldn’t be vague or brief. This is where employers are getting information about you and your experience. If you don’t include enough detail you could be selling yourself short. Make sure to focus on your accomplishments. It may seem tedious repeating what is in your resume but it is better to provide more information than not enough.

Make it Neat

While many job applications are now online, you may find a time that you are applying with a paper application. If this is the case, you want to make sure you take the time to make sure it is very easy to read and looks neat. Be sure to use your best handwriting. Make sure to follow the instructions about how to fill it out. You should use a pen, typically blue or black ink. Read the application through before filling it out so you can avoid errors.

Listing Your Reason for Leaving

You will often be asked your reason for leaving each previous place of employment. You want to be careful about what you put here. Keep things positive and avoid using words like “fired” or “quit” as they can seem negative. Instead, think about including the ‘why’ of your answer. Use terms like “scheduling conflict”, “resigned for better advancement opportunities”, or “relocated.” While people do change jobs, you don’t want to raise any red flags during the application process.

By following this advice you are on your way to securing that interview and landing the job!

About The Author

Elizabeth Enck
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Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck was a career counselor at The University Of Tennessee for 6 years. She worked with undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni with their career planning and job searching. This included providing assistance with resumes and cover letters, interviewing including conducting practice interviews, and guidance through the job search process. She has a Master’s Degree in Counseling with an emphasis on career counseling.

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