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  • Leslie Juvin-Acker

5 Mistakes Online Job Seekers Make

I am in the process of looking for an employee to help my family. I posted the advert on an employment website that links seekers with job providers. I posted a very clear and straightforward job posting with my desired personality traits, educational background, and job details. I made it extremely easy for applicants to read and respond to knowing how some job listings are vague and easy to misunderstand.

After the job listing was approved, the applicants came pouring in. This is what I saw and what I want you to avoid doing if you actually want to get a job:

1. Copy and paste cover letters: I got this 100% of the time. There is nothing more grating to a hiring manager than seeing a copy and paste cover letter: they are generic, they are boring, they say nothing new or interesting, and they are rude. Why are they rude? Because you want a job, but you’re not willing to do the work to get it. The job does not start when you get hired – your job also includes your job search and your business is selling yourself.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the job description, think about your own professional profile, and then make the link between the two and tell me, in a persuasive way, why you would be the best person for the job!

Just because the job may be general or perhaps is the same old song and dance you’ve done for many years, it doesn’t mean that you learned nothing and have nothing of value to bring to the new experience. Take 20 minutes, think about it, say it out loud, and write down what you’ve said. Proofread and voila – done. If you don’t know how to write a cover letter, then visit my blog post on writing a great cover letter.

2. Applying and then not responding in a timely manner: 35% of applicants who I responded to responded several days after I sent them a message – some, not at all. If you experience a delay or a problem getting to the internet, offer an apology and explain the delay. You don’t have to tell the hiring manager the whole story, but your excuse has to be realistic enough than the fact that you didn’t have time or you forgot.

3. Responding to detailed questions with short phrases: If the initial interviews and correspondences are done by the internet, it does not mean, in any shape or form, that you have the privilege of talking as if you were in a text conversation with your friend. I asked specific questions, expecting detailed and concise responses and I literally got, “of course”, “I would schedule around it” and other short phrases that were not even complete sentences with proper use of grammar and punctuation. If you’re not serious about thinking of a decent answer to the questions you’re given, then you’re most likely not capable of solving complicated problems on the job.

4. Applying, getting a response, and then turning down the job: Hey, I get that you’re shot gunning your job search and applying for anything and everything -I wouldn’t recommend that strategy, but whatever works – so you sent out dozens of applications and you got hired before the others could respond. I got a few applicants who did this and did not even offer a reason as to why they rescinded their application. They just said they didn’t need the job. Nice.

I’m sure some of you are saying, “Why do I need to give them a reason when most places don’t tell me why they didn’t hire me or accept my candidature?” I’ll tell you why.

The best employers out there will offer a reason as to why they didn’t hire you – they’ll probably send you a message saying the post is now closed, they found an applicant that better fit their needs, etc – but you were notified. If you applied and were immediately rejected, they’ll most likely send you a message saying that your profile need not meet the minimum requirements for the job. This is out of courtesy and this is called best practices.

If you found a job elsewhere or have decided that you no longer want the job, simply let the person know so that they don’t spend anymore time on your candidature. You don’t have to give a detailed reason, just just have to say in generic terms why.

5. Not reading the advertisement in full: There is a reason why when I coach job seekers to provide me samples of job posts they are looking for and it’s not for entertainment purposes. For me, as a career coach, it helps me help you fully understand the job, its expectations, and the type of person they are looking for. It shows me that you can fully read and understand what you’re wanting to get yourself into.

I had 30% of applicants who did not read the job description and requirements. I had answers like this once communications began:

“I didn’t see the job started two months from now… so I don’t want to continue my application.”

“I didn’t see the hours required for this job. I can’t take it because it interferes with my schedule.” (They were listed directly under the job description)

Many responses proved to me that they did not even read the job description and the details of the position offered. Sure, we all make mistakes and get confused, especially for jobs that require a lot of details and technical knowledge. However, if you can’t get the basics of a job description and advertisement, I wonder if you’ll even understand the expectations of the job itself and even commit to the work contract you’ll be asked to follow.

If you want to go far…

These top five faux pas are just the beginning of what not to do during an online job search, but they are basic elements of conducting a job search with integrity, commitment, and attention. Do you think hiring managers get pleasure out of turning down dozens, if not hundreds, of job applicants and enjoy an important post sitting empty, not producing results?

Like I tell my clients, if you don’t complete the most basic of due diligence in your job search and don’t get any results, then YOU are missing out on some important information and insight. Don’t blame the job market, don’t blame the company or hiring manager, and don’t blame anybody but yourself. Accept responsibility for your own image, your own career, and your own job search. Take your job search seriously and be respectful every step of the way, no matter what level of responsibility you have or pay grade you are in, and you will go far – very far. However, by doing the above job hunting mistakes, you’ll go nowhere fast.


Leslie, Inc. offers solutions for finding happiness through one-on-one coaching, mindful leadership retreats, and digital products. If you’re ready to GET HAPPY, check out Leslie’s guide packs. For more tips on achieving your state of happiness, sign up for Leslie, Inc’s weekly newsletter.

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