5 Common Application Mistakes to Avoid


Advances in technology and communication have made the job search seem like an ever-widening horizon. You can apply to any job, located in any city, purportedly with just the click of a button.

Of course, the reality isn’t quite that utopian. That “one-click” application can sometimes turn into a tedious slog of repeating the same information you’ve posted to a dozen other sites already. Filling out the online forms can become a major commitment of time and effort.

With the sweat capital you put into the application process (not to mention the emotional investment of hope and expectation), you don’t want to blow the opportunity. Sometimes a tiny mistake can result in your entire application getting thrown out. Or, you can waste just as much time filling out applications for the wrong jobs.

To maximize your chances of finding the best position, you need to get the most out of the time you spend submitting applications. With that in mind, here are five common application mistakes people make, and how to avoid them:

Wasting Time with Lost Causes

The application process can take a long time. Some systems only require a resume upload and a few basic facts. However, others ask you to enter lengthy profiles or take practical tests. On the high end, you can spend upwards of an hour filling out an application.

With that in mind, pick your spots. Don’t waste time on positions that are far outside your qualifications. Stretches and calculated long-shots are acceptable in the right situation, but use some risk/reward calculations when deciding whether to apply.

Grammatical Errors

You checked and rechecked your resume and your standard cover letter before you started submitting them. Now, you’re staring at an application, asking you to submit the information in their online form. Don’t forget to take the same proofreading care.

It’s easy to rush through the process when you’re submitting the same information on site after site. However, a small mistake can lead to you getting passed over.

Not Following Instructions

Each application comes with its own rules and points of emphasis. However, when you’re in peak job-search mode, there’s a tendency to push to crank things out as quickly as possible. You end up reading instructions too fast or trying to bend pre-prepared responses to fit where they don’t belong.

Slow down. Treat each application as an individual endeavor. Make sure you understand everything and provide the information in adequate detail.

Leaving Blank Spaces

Most applications will identify required fields, and won’t let you proceed until they are filled out. However, they will also usually include other items that seem more optional, areas you can keep blank without preventing you from applying.

However, just because you can leave them blank doesn’t mean you should. Even if it seems allowed, the employer put those questions in there for a reason. Answer every question provided as fully as possible.

Including Irrelevant Information

The people sifting through applications are busy. Picture them as overworked grumps, not in the mood for any extra work. In other words, don’t waste their time.

In answering longer-form questions (those items that require more than a word or two), you have to strike a delicate balance. You want to provide a full answer. However, you also want to keep the answer relatively brief. Work to present a compact, memorable response, without trailing off on irrelevant details.

Knowing how much information to include in the initial application process can be a tricky concern. It helps to have some professional assistance.

A strong recruiting partner, like DHR, will contact potential employers for you, ensuring that you always appear with your best foot forward.

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