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Build Your Career Get the Job

Don't Skip These 5 Things on Your Next Job Application

Don't Skip These 5 Things on Your Next Job Application
Credit: RawPixel/Shutterstock

Not personalizing your application and not following up after an interview are among the most common mistakes job seekers make when searching for work, according to new research from CareerBuilder.

The job market is the strongest it's been in nearly a decade, and technology is making it easier than ever to pursue job opportunities. But that doesn't mean job seekers should be skipping basic steps like submitting a cover letter or customizing their resume, said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

"These items get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, and leaving them out of the process can hurt a job seeker's chances of securing a new job," Haefner said in a statement. [See Related Story: 8 Things You Should Never Do After a Job Interview]

To help job seekers, CareerBuilder has uncovered the most common mistakes to avoid when looking for work:

  1. No customization: CareerBuilder research found that 54 percent of job seekers do not customize their resume for each job they apply for. Tailoring your resume to match the job description by using key words in the job posting that match your experience is a good way to get a leg up on the competition.
  2. No personalization: The study revealed that 84 percent of job seekers don't personalize their application by including the hiring manager's name. Finding out their name and including it in your application is not only a good way to get noticed, but also shows potential employers that you took some time to learn about the organization.
  3. No cover letter: As long as a job posting doesn't specifically say not to send a cover letter with your resume, you should include one. Despite that, nearly half of the workers surveyed don't do so. A cover letter provides you with a chance to introduce yourself and highlight your experience beyond what you can do in a resume.
  4. No follow up: Another misstep job seekers make is not following up with an employer after applying for a job. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed said they never check in with an employer after sending in an application and resume. While you never want to come across as pushy or overbearing, checking in with a hiring manager after submitting an application can be a good way to stand out.
  5. No thank you: Even though it is one of the most critical steps during the job search process, nearly 60 percent of job seekers don't send a thank-you note after an interview. Thank-you notes allow you a chance to restate why you are a good fit for the job. In addition, most hiring managers expect an email or handwritten note after an interview. Not sending one can make you stand out for all of the wrong reasons.

Haefner also advised joining an employer's talent network as a way to stay up to date on new job opportunities; using social media to find who you know at a potential employer to get a referral; and practicing your conversation skills before an interview.

The study was based on surveys of 3,244 full-time workers in the private sector across industries and company sizes.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.