In some ways, clicking the “submit” button and applying for a job is cathartic. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to spruce up your resume and cover letter, and frankly, you’re kind of over the whole thing. The problem is that for many people, only a few minutes go by before they start thinking about all the things they might’ve done wrong.
If I were to tell you all the concerns I’ve had after applying for some jobs, this article would be at least five times its current length. But it turns out that a lot of the things you’re worrying about (Did I spell the hiring manager’s name right? Should I have sent a bonus writing sample?) are out of your control now. So instead of stressing out, focus on not making these three mistakes.
1. You’re Ignoring the Follow-up Instructions on the Job Listing
If I had a dollar for every time I posted a job online with the words “no calls” in the description, I’d have dozens of dollars. But, if I had the same dollar for every time a candidate ignored those instructions, I’d be able to retire tomorrow.
This should be one of the first things you look for on a posting whenever you apply, especially after you send in your materials. Sure, conventional wisdom might say that this is a great way to grab the recruiter’s attention. And technically, it is.
But if a job listing emphasizes the fact that the company does not want to hear from applicants, being “proactive” in this case won’t help your cause. In fact, if you’re too persistent on the phone, you might end up hurting your chances of hearing back.
Instead, if you’re dying to know your status, email is a much better (and less annoying) option. Writing a follow-up email on an application can be hard, but whenever you’re stuck for ideas, use this handy template.
2. You’re Not Double-Checking to See if You Have a Connection at the Company
Want to stay on top of mind with a company that you were pumped to apply for? Cold follow-up emails won’t necessarily do the trick, but taking a quick peek at the employer’s LinkedIn page to see if you know anyone who currently works there might.
Normally I’d say that you should do this before you apply, but I get it. Sometimes you see a gig that sounds amazing and you want to submit your materials ASAP. I’ve done this plenty of times, only to regret skipping this step of the process immediately. And in most of those instances, I simply chalked it up to a missed opportunity that was no longer on the table.
The truth is that while it’s not always ideal to wait until after you submit your application to reach out to an “in” at your dream company, some employers actually prefer this. And even if the company doesn’t have a strong preference, I’ve written up plenty of recommendations for friends and former colleagues well after they originally submitted their application materials. So, if you haven’t gotten around to digging around to see who you know, don’t be afraid to find out (and reach out) after the fact.
3. You’re Not Looking for Other Jobs
Sometimes, you find a job that looks so incredible that you want nothing more than to sit around and wait for a call from that employer. And since that job is The One For You, there’s no point in seeing what else is out there, right? Wrong. So, so wrong.
I know that editing and revising resumes and cover letters can be a drag sometimes, especially when you just want to find your next job as soon as humanly possible. But the reality of the situation is that it’s how you express interest in that dream gig—and it’s just the first step of what’s often a very long process.
Sure, you might hear back from the one employer you’re banking on, and everything might work out exactly the way you want it to. And if that’s the case for you, I invite you to tweet at me and say, “You were wrong! I waited for my dream company, and only my dream company, and everything is amazing.”
But if you’re like the rest of us mere mortals who have been rejected for amazing jobs in the past, do yourself a favor and find the energy to keep searching. After all, as great as that one position might sound, there might be an even better one that you haven’t seen yet.
The truth is that whenever you apply for a job, you hand over a lot of the control to the person on the other side reviewing candidates. That’s a scary proposition, especially considering there’s a lot you can’t change about your application once you hit “send.” However, that doesn’t mean you should panic and make mistakes or that you should just sit around and wait. While you no longer have a ton of control over how the process goes with this particular position, you do still have some—embrace it.