8 job search mistakes: Deal-breakers or road bumps?


Learn whether these eight common job search mistakes are major obstacles or just bumps in the road.

You're bound to make an occasional mistake in your job search. You might send out the wrong version of your resume or arrive late for an interview. Some of these missteps can ruin your job chances, but not all are deal-breakers. Read on to learn whether eight common job search mistakes are major obstacles or just bumps in the road.

Mistake No. 1: A resume that seems way too long

Verdict: Bump in the road

Conventional wisdom says that a one- or two-page resume is ideal. But if you have years of work experience, it's easy to exceed that limit. Although most companies are satisfied with seeing just the last 10 or so years of your work history, including more won't necessarily land your resume in the trash. Just be sure you're not including irrelevant details or too much information, such as childhood jobs or a list of all your hobbies.

Mistake No. 2: Sending the wrong documents

Verdict: Deal-breaker

Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each opportunity has important advantages to your job search. But with multiple versions of each document in your files, you could end up sending the wrong one to the wrong employer. If that happens, the best thing to do is learn from your mistake and let it go — no matter whether you've addressed the wrong hiring manager, listed irrelevant experience or committed another resume error. You can try again later, if the company has another job opening, using the correct resume this time.

Mistake No. 3: Neglecting to send a thank-you note

Verdict: Bump in the road

If you don't send a note after your interview, it usually isn't a deal-breaker. However, don't discount the effect of this thoughtful gesture. Acknowledging the time the interviewer spent with you, by sending a thoughtful thank-you email, just might help you stand out from other applicants.

Mistake No. 4: A wardrobe blunder

Verdict: Either

When selecting the best applicant, hiring managers consider your attire. You may be able to recover from a wardrobe mishap if it's not too severe. For example, a small stain, a ripped stocking or a zipper mishap is usually forgivable. But dressing too casually or flamboyantly can spoil your chances.

Mistake No. 5: Rambling in the interview

Verdict: Bump in the road

You need to offer more than one-word answers in an interview, but be careful not to chatter on and on. Many people ramble when they're nervous, a fact that interviewers usually take into consideration when evaluating candidates. Still, you might want to remind yourself that silence between questions is perfectly normal.

Mistake No. 6: Arriving late

Verdict: Either

Hiring managers understand that traffic jams and other delays are sometimes unavoidable. So, if you're running late, call your contact, apologize and estimate when you'll arrive. If you're more than 10 minutes late, ask whether you can reschedule. How you handle this job search mistake can be the deciding factor in whether it's a bump in the road or a deal-breaker.

Mistake No. 7: A small social gaffe

Verdict: Bump in the road

Whether you forget the interviewer's name, botch a handshake or trip on the carpet, your minor slipup can feel like a major error as it occurs. But later, you may be the only one to remember that part of your interview. The best thing you can do is to casually acknowledge your misstep, laugh it off and move on.

Mistake No. 8: Lying on your resume

Verdict: Deal-breaker

Falsifying your work history can have serious consequences, before or after the hiring phase. So never claim to have a degree or certification you don't have. Don't say you're proficient in software you've never used — or award yourself an impressive job title that you haven't really earned. If your lie is discovered early, you'll ruin your chances of being hired. If it's detected later, you may lose your job, and you'll have a blot on your reputation for a long time to come.

Job search mistakes happen. Sometimes, you don't even realize they're errors until you read about them in an article or blog. Several are relatively easy to recover from, while others will doom your chances with that particular employer. To land your dream position, learn from your job search mistakes and resolve to be more careful in the future.

Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 400 staffing and consulting locations worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, read our blog at blog.roberthalf.com or follow us on social media at roberthalf.com/follow-us.