When you’re searching and applying for jobs, there are the big obvious mistakes. Like sending a cover letter with the wrong company name or eating a bag of chips during your Skype interview. Yes, those are both things that actually happen.
And then there are the less obvious, small mistakes that still make all the difference. At Koru, we work with hundreds of college graduates on the hunt for great jobs, and we’re there for all the bumps in the road. Here are five common, easy-to-make job search mistakes that we see a lot.
Full disclosure: I’ve made them all.
1. Missing the window.
Hiring is time-consuming and fortune favors the first quality candidate. If a company finds somebody who fits the bill today, they probably won’t review your application when it comes in tomorrow.
If you see a job that you think may be a good fit, don’t hesitate. Even if there’s an application “due date,” don’t wait. Do your homework, start connecting to people at the company, and then get that bad boy in as soon as possible. In other words, show some hustle. Waiting too long to get your application in, even if it’s because you’re trying to make sure it’s mega perfect, can make it seem like you’re not excited about the job.
2. Not following up within 24 hours.
This isn’t dating. There’s no reason to play hard to get. Always respond within 24 hours when someone reaches out to you with a question or to schedule an interview or to meet up for coffee. The sooner the better. There’s no intrigue in waiting to reply to an email because you don’t want to look desperate. Not getting back in touch within one business day will make people question your commitment to the job, and also your manners in general.
(On that same note, if someone gives you an introduction or puts in a good word for you, ALWAYS follow up with them to let them know what happened, even if you didn’t get the job.)
3. Staying at home.
Job hunting can feel pretty isolating. You spend a lot of time online, searching and researching. You email a lot of people. You probably don’t hear back from a lot of people. And that’s why it’s vital to get out of the house as much as possible. We say this a lot and I’ll say it again, companies don’t hire people, people hire people. While a lot of jobs can be found online, your chances of getting hired are much greater if you’re getting out of the house and meeting with people. Make it a goal to set up several informational interviews or coffee dates with connections throughout the week. It’ll keep you sane, and it’ll get you some real traction.
4. Making it hard.
It seems obvious, but you should always make it alarmingly easy for people to get in touch with you, interview you, and hire you. While it’s understandable to have to reschedule something every now and then, it’s your job while job-hunting to be flexible and make things run smoothly. This means not asking for extensions (or second extensions) on job applications, not saying “no” when someone requests a Skype interview or an interview early in the morning. (True story: I once had someone complain that their interview was too early. It was 9 AM.) Think of every stage in the job application process as a test. Always say yes. Make it easy, and it’ll be easier for them to hire you.
5. Assuming that not hearing back means “no.”
It can mean “no,” but it can also mean that the person you contacted is busy, or behind on email, or read your email and made a mental note to get back to you and then forgot and needs a reminder, and oh, thank god you emailed me again!
Whenever we hear, “Well, they didn’t get back to me…” we follow up with, “Well, how many emails did you send?” Usually, the answer is one. If you don’t hear back, follow up again. Be more specific in your ask. Follow up twice or even three times before you throw in the towel. If you’re tenacious, people will notice.
Michaela Gianotti is Koru's content manager. She attended Whitman College, where she spent the better part of four years convincing her family that English majors can get jobs too. She has since found awesome work (SEE!) at 826 Seattle, msnNOW, and Koru.