In today's tough job market, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition in order to get that plum job. With more applicants vying for fewer positions, avoiding these common mistakes will help you stand out in the crowd.
#1: Don't leave a recruiter or hiring manager guessing about your job history
A recruiter doesn't have time to figure out why there may be gaps in employment or what you've been doing since your last job. A two page resume that tells the story of your job history and key accomplishments is more effective than a one page resume that leaves the recruiter guessing about what you did for 10 years and what you accomplished. If you are unemployed, explain what you've been doing since you left your job, especially if it's been a number of months since you left.
#2: Don't miss the opportunity to include a cover letter or email note with your application
A customized note lets a potential employer know why you're interested in their company, a particular position, etc. and that you're not just applying randomly to any job that is available.
#3: Don't treat a phone interview casually
If you are on a phone screen interview via a cell phone, sit in a quiet place and make sure you have a good signal. If, during the phone interview, you are walking your dog, waiting in line for a latte at Starbucks or otherwise occupied, you'll distract the interviewer and give the impression that you are not taking it seriously.
#4: Don't forget to prepare for the interview
Take the time to re-read the position description and do some research on the company. A candidate has to do a lot to overcome the negative first impression that's created when asked what they know about the company, and the response is "I don't know anything" or "I didn't have time to look up your company's web site".
#5: Don't miss the opportunity to sell yourself
Remember, it's your job in the interview to sell yourself. So talk about your strengths and how they would relate to the position you are applying for. If you have jumped around from job to job, use this opportunity to describe what you really want in your next job so the interviewer will feel confident you are truly interested in the job and that you will stick with it.