By Alison Green
Every job searcher faces different challenges, but hiring managers see some of the same mistakes over and over again. Chances are good that if you're looking for a job, you're making some of these errors – and you might have an easier search if you resolve to change your ways.
Here are eight job-search missteps to put an end to today.
1. Trying to read into every word or action from your interviewer. Because job searching can be so stressful, many job seekers try to find clues about their chances in everything an employer says and does. This leads to frustrating and generally fruitless attempts to parse every word from an interviewer – "Was she signaling I didn't get the job when she said they had more candidates to interview?" "Is it a good sign that he shook my hand and said he'd be in touch?" More often than not, these "signals" don't mean anything at all, and just drive candidates crazy trying to read between the lines.
2. Stressing out over elements of your job applications that really don't matter. Employers really don't care whether you spend time tracking down the hiring manager's name or just address your cover letter to "dear hiring manager," so don't put time into that. Similarly, most hiring managers really don't care what your résumé design looks like as long as it's organized and easy to skim, or whether your post-interview thank-you note is handwritten or emailed. Don't sweat the little stuff; put your energy into showing your qualifications and why you'd excel at the job.
3. Scrimping on the cover letter. If you're applying for jobs without including a compelling cover letter, one that's customized to this specific job, you're missing out on one of the most effective ways to get a hiring manager's attention. A cover letter is your opportunity to make a compelling case for yourself as a candidate, totally aside from what's in your résumé. You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't write one tailored to each job for which you apply.
4. Thinking that you have the job before you have an offer. Too often, candidates see good signs from an employer and think it means that they're going to get an offer – only to be crushed when the offer never comes. And not only does this regularly lead to disappointment, it can also lead you to make bad decisions for yourself – like not continuing to apply for other jobs or even turning down interviews because you think your search is over. Never assume that you're getting the job until you have a formal offer.
Errors 5-8 and the complete USNews article