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I’m a hiring manager here at Business Insider, which means I spend a lot of time every day looking through job applications.
After reading countless applications for various positions, I’ve come across some common mistakes that typically cause me to move on to the next candidate’s materials.
Fortunately, these errors are pretty easy to avoid:
1. Not writing a cover letter
Trust me, I know it’s daunting to distill your experience and desire for a job into two or three paragraphs. And I know you’re probably applying to lots of different jobs, so writing a cover letter is a big time sink. But it’s worth it.
A resume is a great tool to tell me your education and employment history, but it doesn’t tell me about you as a person. And I’m looking to hire a great individual to my team, not a list of past accomplishments.
Even if the job listing doesn’t specifically say to include a cover letter, do it anyway. And that brings me to…
2. Not following directions
Some job postings are long and detailed, and some are vague but you know you want to work for that company. Regardless, read the ad carefully for instructions. If there’s anything specific in the ad about what to include in your application, you better submit it. This could be as simple as a link to your personal website/portfolio/reel, or a specific request to address in your cover letter.
This shows me that you pay attention to detail and that you follow through when someone asks you to go a little bit above the standard requirements (i.e., just sending your materials).
Pro tip: If, for example, you’re submitting via an automated site and you don’t see a field to submit your cover letter, follow up with it in an email and explain the situation. Wouldn’t you hate your application to be passed over because of technical difficulties the reviewer is unaware of?
3. Writing “your company”
This is a pet peeve I’ve expressed to and had confirmed by pretty much all hiring managers, and it goes back to including a cover letter for each job you apply to. Yes, you can draft a template for your cover letter and reuse it. But make sure when you do, you’re substituting the generic phrase “this position at your company” with the specific role and company name so that I know you actually care about both things.
Another pro tip that’s pretty obvious: Proofread your cover letter so that you don’t accidentally send Business Insider a cover letter saying you’re really excited about a position at Buzzfeed.
It’s competitive out there, but following these guidelines will help set you apart. Good luck!