What NOT to do when applying for a job

Competition for jobs at my company are pretty fierce. And I would venture to say that it’s pretty fierce everywhere else as well. With high unemployment rates, and hundreds of qualified applicants applying for a finite number of jobs, it’s become a cut throat situation for supervisors looking to hire new employees.When I landed my job two years ago using a recruiting software, I found out afterward that there were more than 500 applications for my position. Eleven led to interviews. Five got second interviews. And only one got the job. Trust me when I say I felt like I won the lottery; great benefits, great work schedule, lots of room for promotions.

Supervisors no longer have the resources or time to devote hours to look through every single resume. If there’s one thing off about your application, it’s enough to put you in the “No” pile. With a new recent job opening in our department, I’ve learned a few key tips on what not to do when applying for a job.

Don’t write a four-page cover letter. A cover letter should be succinct and summarize your overall work experience, not provide a blow by blow of each line on your resume. One candidate that applied offered four pages of her entire work history. Her lack of knowledge of what a cover letter should be made her look really juvenile. The sad part is that she was pretty well-qualified, but a four-page cover letter automatically dismissed her into the “crazy” pile. Do your research on cover letters.

Don’t bid too high. One of the questions most applications will ask you is what you expect your starting salary to be. You almost always write “open” except in the case of when you’re forced to give a number. If you’re required to give a range or number–no matter how tempting it may be–don’t bid too high. You can always negotiate if you get the job, but bidding too high already makes you land directly in the “crazy” pile.

Don’t apply if you’re not even remotely qualified. Why waste your time? All the applications that came from nurses, or recent college grads, when the position was for a public relations specialist with at least five years of experience, landed directly in the “crazy” pile. I know it may be tempting, especially if you’re desperate for a job, to apply to everything within sight, but you’re simply wasting your time. Instead, spend your time scouring for jobs on Monster, Indeed, Glassdoor, etc. It’s about quality, not quantity. Work on growing your connections too. Maybe attending some Chamber of Commerce meetings in your area to meet more people.

Don’t forget to smile during your interview. My qualifications may have landed me the interview, but my smile and upbeat personality landed me the job. You have no idea what the company is specifically looking for when they’re doing interviews. Most companies of course want a well-qualified candidate, but that’s why you got the interview. When you’re in the interview, most companies are looking for someone they will want to work with. Put your best foot forward. In my case, I smiled throughout my whole interview and even made a few light jokes. It was enough to win them over, because after I started at the new job, I was told they really wanted someone to bring a positive attitude to the department.