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J.G. Wentworth Blog

99% of job applicants make this huge mistake

If you’re currently searching for a new job, you’re not alone—the competition is fierce. The application process is half the battle, and without standing out (in a good way, of course), you may never get a chance to be interviewed—even if you were the perfect candidate for the job. Before you apply for your next job, you’ll want to avoid the following common mistakes:

Not sending the perfect, customized resume

Every job you apply for should include a resume that is slightly more customized to suit the position you’re gunning for, which highlights only your most relevant qualifications for that specific job. But not only should your resume shine, it’s important that it follows standard resume guidelines: this includes legible and consistent formatting, a length that doesn’t exceed two pages (a single page is ideal), and one that is free of typos. In fact, so many job applicants tweak their resume again and again to ensure it’s perfect, that they overlook the simplest mistakes. According to a CareerBuilder survey conducted in 2013, approximately 58 percent of resumes have at least one typo. Resume typos can quickly ruin any chances you may have had because employers typically see them as a candidate’s inability to notice details or care about quality.

Neglecting the cover letter

Like the resume, the cover letter is significant, but far too many job applicants fail to see its importance (or forget to even include one). Cover letters should never be generic, and should especially be customized to each individual job you apply for. They should address the hiring manager and company by name, and should specifically state why you’d be best the person for the job—without just summarizing everything that’s on your resume.

Failing to maintain a positive online presence

Many job applicants don’t stop to think that hiring managers will search their name on the Internet to see what comes up. If your resume is good and you’re being considered for an interview, however, don’t be surprised if this is the next step. If nothing comes up at all, or worse—you have a bad online presence—this can affect your chances at getting that interview. If you haven’t already, join LinkedIn—one of the most widely used social media platforms for professional networking—and create a profile that highlights (and links to) your achievements, experience, and other qualifications. Creating and maintaining a professional online presence is crucial these days, and if you have any social media profiles that you use for personal use, you’ll want to make sure that they’re private or simply don’t have anything on them that you’d want a potential future employer to see.

And finally, there is this one mistake that the majority of job applicants make at least once….

Not following directions

You won’t apply for every single open position the exact same way—in fact, some provide very specific instructions. For example, a job posting might state that you’ll need to include your desired salary. Another might want to see samples of your work or links to your portfolio. Others might require you to fill out a specific form or email one designated address only, and answer other specific questions. By not following the provided instructions to the letter, most employers will simply move onto the next applicant, no matter how impressive your qualifications might be. Many employers feel that an applicant who can’t follow simple instructions might not make the greatest employee—whether that person was too busy to read through the instructions entirely, didn’t care enough to, or didn’t understand what was asked. If the job is especially competitive and the company is getting flooded with applications, this is often the first step in the screening process.


Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.