10 Mistakes That Will Cost You Your Dream Job

  | 6 min read

Most job vacancies on ZoomTanzania.com get 50 – 100 applications per week. This proves that there are far more job seekers than there are jobs in Tanzania.

Moreover, getting your application to stand out from the competition is made even harder by the fact that:

  • Employers are busy and do not have time to review each application in detail.
  • Applications get scanned quickly and only those that stand out as a serious candidate get put aside for a detailed review.

So, as a job seeker, your most challenging and important goal is to get your application noticed and be identified as a serious candidate. However, if you keep making  some of these 10 job search mistakes, your application will continue to land in the trash bin.

1. Applying for jobs that you are not qualified for

Position descriptions state minimum qualifications, skills and experience for a reason. If you do not meet, or at least come very close to the minimum requirements stated in the position description, don’t waste your time applying. It’s not worth it!

Instead, dedicate a lot of time tailoring your CV and cover letter for positions that are looking for someone with your skill set and experience. However, if you find a position that requires some years of work experience but you believe you can perform all the responsabilities, then apply anyway or call the HR of the business and ask.

2. Sending the same cover letter to all positions 

Companies can tell if you have sent them a general cover letter that you use for multiple job applications. And this gives them the impression that you haven’t given much thought to why they should hire you and so they won’t.

Successful job seekers understand that getting a great job isn’t about the number of jobs they apply to, but how well they apply to jobs they are well qualified for. Every job is different, so take the time to draw attention to how well you match the desired skills, experience and other requirements noted in the Position Description.

3. Highlighting responsibilities you’ve had, but not accomplishments

Employers want doers; people that get things done. A CV that says “Grew sales by an average of 4% per quarter” is much more impressive than a CV that says “Responsible for all external sales”. Whenever possible, your CV should state accomplishments, not just responsibilities.

The Harvard Business Review also encourages selectivity. Although it might be tempting to put in all your accomplishments from the age of 8, you are better of selecting and highlighting the achievements that are in sync with the job you are applying for.

4. Not communicating the value you bring to the position

Saying, “I have 7 years’ experience” really doesn’t illustrate the value of the work experience you have.

However, if you say “I have 7 years’ related experience with consistently increasing levels of responsibility, and I am very well connected with excellent relationships in the sector”, is much more impressive and helps to communicate the value you would bring to the position.

5. Focusing on how much you want the job 

It may sound harsh, but employers really don’t care how badly you need a job. They have hundreds of people applying for the same position. Avoid statements that make you sound needy.

Instead, be confident in your abilities and focus on how you can help the company, not how the company can help you. So, for instance, don’t say, ” I’d love the opportunity to learn more about marketing from this position “, instead say, ‘ I’m excited by the prospect of bringing my years of experience in both traditional and digital marketing to your company, and look forward to learning more from your team of experts and collaborating with them to increase exposure and sales of your products.”

6. Not researching the company before you apply

There’s nothing worse than applying for a position without knowing anything about the company.

Reading a company’s website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media pages can be extremely helpful. You must first understand what is important to the company before you can effectively communicate the value you would bring to the position.

Employers are impressed when an applicant is well researched on company values, goals and statistics. This tells them how serious you are taking this and will definitely give you a competitive edge.

7. Making spelling mistakes

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Because spell check is commonly available everywhere, there is no excuse for not using it.

Spelling mistakes tell the employer that you are sloppy, do not pay attention to details, and don’t care enough about the job to produce a quality application.

8. Forcing yourself to write in English (the first time) 

Too many people panic when they have to write a cover letter in English, and end up focusing on finishing it rather than the quality of the end product. Some even go so far as to pay someone else to write their application material for them.

Only you can describe your experience and the value you bring to a position, so only you can write the cover letter and the CV.

If English is not your first language, write in your native language, then ask a trusted friend or family member with excellent English skills to help you translate it.

9. Submitting a very long resume and cover letter

Your cover letter should be brief, maximum 1 page, and to stand out among the competition it needs to be original and specific to the job/company you are applying to.

Form letters rarely get noticed, and statements about how you are a hard worker and work well both independently and in groups are very common.

Almost everyone says these types of things and employers know they are not always true. It is much more effective to demonstrate these qualities using your past accomplishments as examples.

10. Ignoring application instructions

Don’t send certificates if told to send only a CV. Don’t drop a hard copy if told to apply by email only. Etc. etc. etc.

When you ignore specific instructions, you are actually communicating to the employer that you can’t follow simple orders. No matter how talented you may be, if you give off the impression that you are difficult to work with, then employers may pass you up for someone else.

Learn from your mistakes

If you keep sending out applications and never get called for an interview, then it’s time to do an audit of your job search approach and be honest with yourself about what possible mistakes you could be making. Whatever they may be, don’t be discouraged, instead, use your new found self-knowledge to improve your application and become an even stronger contender in the job market!

Ready to find your dream job?

Iman Lipumba
A digital storyteller, experienced in creating content that improves website visibility on search engines, enhances the user experience, and nurtures brand loyalty. With a background in the social sciences, an expert in researching complex ideas, and communicating them in engaging language to multiple audiences.