Avoiding common job search mistakes

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By Jody Elliott, Director at The Resource Channel

Whether you are applying directly to a company or via a recruitment agency, you will be dealing with a recruiter.

This is the person you must impress first and foremost. From a recruiter’s perspective, there are a number of mistakes that job seekers consistently make. Here is your guide to avoiding them.

Getting the basics right

The number of emails we receive each week from job seekers either seeking employment or information is significant. So, too are the grammar and spelling mistakes! At least 95% of the emails we receive are unclear in intent, and contain spelling and grammar mistakes. Without doubt, if I was a recruiter, I would decline every one of them at a first pass for this reason alone. Do not underestimate the importance of getting the basics right! This advice extends to your resume, email approaches and cover letters.

Do not just re-use a cover letter, or even a resume, you have used for another job. All too often, we see a cover letter used for another advertisement (and which often also includes the other company’s name). Instead, you must take time to specifically address the skills required for the particular job and company you are applying to – in all of your correspondence.


You must anticipate interview questions. Ensure you know your resume in detail and that you have, most importantly, researched the company you are applying to. All too often, candidates are rejected when they cannot answer this simple question, "What do you know about our organisation?"


Do not leave your mobile phone on during an interview. Michael Page, director of finance with Joss Godbold, is constantly astounded by the number of interviewees who either leave their phone on, leave it on vibrate, or even sit it on the table front of them. This is unprofessional and rude. So too, is being late for an interview. This shows a lack of detail and care and reflects poorly on you and your organisational skills.

Contact points

Think about contact points; when a recruiter is making contact, what impression will they form? Too many don't consider their voicemail message (does it identify who you are?) or email addresses, both of which can be very unprofessional from our experience! When you answer the phone, always identify who you are. There is nothing worse as a recruiter, having to ask, "is this....?" when they call.

Also consider where you reside in the electronic world; do you have a Facebook page? If so, ensure that it is only available to those you want it to be available to. Recruiters have become much savvier at checking on candidates using other sources, like Facebook. On such sites, do you have a personal email address or your work email address? I can assure you the latter is not appropriate! Be mindful of what photos are on the site and what is being written if you have dozens or hundreds of friends linked to you. It is becoming more common for organisations to have social media policies which guide employee conduct on such forums. If you are observed contravening these policies, the company can and may take disciplinary action.

Responding to rejection

Be careful how you respond to rejection; we cannot tell you the number of times a candidate is black listed for responding to a "sorry you have been unsuccessful" email or letter with something inappropriate such as "F___ you" or "you can shove your job". As much as it is frustrating and disappointing to receive such a letter, resist all temptation! And don't be fooled into thinking that just because the rejection email looks like it comes from a generic email address or database, that the original recruiter doesn't receive it - they do!. All it does is prove to the recruiter that they were right to not select you in the first place and they will make a note on your applicant card.

For those few who actually write something like, "Whilst I'm disappointed not to have been selected, I thank you for the opportunity to apply and will continue to do so", you'll have no idea how that stands out. When employers write about their company values on their web page, they typically mean it, so if you demonstrate behaviours that don't align with those values, you won't last long in the process.

Using job offers as leverage

This point essentially comes down to honesty and integrity. It is not uncommon for an active job seeker to have a number of positions under application at the same time. If you are open and honest with the recruiter, the process can be better handled to keep the first position moving along positively and ideally, quickly. You must also consider why you are leaving your current job and if you are absolutely sure of doing so. If you are simply using a recruitment process to ‘fish around’, you need to be completely upfront about this. It is not appropriate to have a recruiter get you to the point of offer, only so you can use it as leverage to get what you want from your existing employer.

The Resource Channel is your website for everything related to employment in the Australian resource sector: jobs, news, tips, advice and information. It's for anyone looking to get into the resources sector, from entry level to blue collar to technical professionals to management. They're all about channelling the information you need – what it takes to make your next career move, finding your next ideal position, where the projects and jobs are now and down the track, and how to get a start in the industry. Are you tuned in? www.theresourcechannel.com.au