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You have the skills for the job, but somewhere in the process, everything falls apart. Maybe you never land an interview, or maybe you do, but you never hear from the company again.

It can be frustrating when it feels like you’ve done everything right, but you still don’t get hired. Sometimes there’s nothing you did wrong, and any of a thousand things could have resulted in someone else landing the position.

In many cases, though, people torpedo their own candidacy by making little mistakes. This can happen anywhere in the hiring process, and it’s easier to make mistakes than you might think.

Things to Avoid on Your Resume


Overlooking grammar

  • You probably won’t be surprised to hear that at Grammarly, they keep a close eye on spelling, grammar, and punctuation in resumes. But above all else, practical communication is what we assess when we’re looking at someone’s experiences on paper.
  • Can I understand what you’re talking about? Did you highlight the most important information? Certain roles, like our recently filled community manager position, require an even closer examination of writing skills because of the necessity of writing in that role’s day-to-day function.
  • Writing is an essential skill, employers look for it, in potential candidates because, at the very least, everyone writes emails as a representative of their company.

Cover Letter Mistakes to Watch Out For

  • Addressing it to the wrong recipient. That’s an immediate red flag and could lead to a candidate being rejected. Some can tell if a letter was copied and pasted. So, I would highly recommend you double-check your intended audience because most companies that require a letter will read them.
  • Generalizing your experience. You can tell when someone hasn’t spent much time crafting their cover letter. Most employers require them when writing is essential to a role. They also use them because they want to know how someone’s work background relates to their opening. A lot of people write about how they’re so great for the position because they did X, Y and Z at their previous company, tell them how your experience is going to translate into what they need.
  • Keep your interview positive and upbeat. Be yourself, but be your best self, and show that you’re a pleasant person who would be good to work with.


Email Mistakes That Hurt Your Chances of Getting Hired

Not being aware of timing

  • If the employer informed a candidate that they’re advancing to another stage of the interview process, a phone interview, an on-site interview, or a reference check and they do not get back to them within 24 hours, the potential employer will tend to think there’s a lack of interest on the candidate’s part. Be present and engaged in all conversations throughout the interview process.
  • Not every company works that way, but if the need to fill the opening is pressing, then time will be important. Even when it’s not, it’s generally best to apply as soon as a job gets listed. That makes it clear you are engaged and serious about landing a new position.


Responding with typos

  • Email mistakes might be considered a red flag for some, but I don’t consider it to be an immediate deal-breaker. Let’s be completely honest… email typos happen. They’re not ideal, but they do happen.
  • People’s brains move so fast that a minor mistake is understandable. I’m not going to suddenly remove someone from consideration because of one error, especially if they’ve already made it to an advanced stage in the interview process.
  • But if it happens over and over, I reconsider moving the candidate forward due to their lack of attention to detail.

Missing a simple opportunity to say, “Thank you”

  • Expressing gratitude still goes a long way. When the employer/interviewer receives a thank-you email from a candidate, they feel more inclined to push them along in the process a little bit faster
  • It may sound silly, but when someone fails to send a thank-you note after an interview. It’s easy to do and is simply proper manners. Not doing so may not hurt your chances, but it could be the deciding factor if you’re facing a rival for the job.
  • A thank-you note gives you a chance to reinforce something said in the interview or make a new point. That can be an important way to show how you plan to address a fault or deficiency that came up during the interview.
  • Timing is also important: for maximum results, send your thank-you note or email within 24 hours of the interview. And get the details right, misspelling the name of the company or the interviewer could destroy the impact.

You did not ask your references

  • When I fill out a job application I always let my references know to expect a call, giving them some basic information on the job. I also gave them the option to opt out.
  • In one instance, a good friend asked me not to use him because he was traveling remotely for multiple weeks. He knew he may not be able to return a call and did not want that held against me.