By Molly Mulshine

Insider, Augusr 21, 2018 —

Searching for a job can be tough, but there are some mistakes you’re making that could be making it more difficult.

(Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Finding a job is tough, especially in the digital age. It’s impossible to know if the dozens of résumés and cover letters you send out each day are even being read, or just deleted.

Based on advice from some of the top entrepreneurs and employment experts in the game, here are a few things you might think are helping your job search, but probably aren’t.

 

1. You’re focusing on quantity over quality.

Focus on crafting a great application. (Thomson Reuters)

It’s easy to apply to job after job after job, without really thinking about whether you’re a match for each position.

But applying to a job for which you’re not qualified could be a total waste of time. It’s true that you could get lucky and get a callback — but it’s more likely that thoughtfully tailored cover letters, sent to jobs that are actually a match for you, will yield more responses.

 

2. You’re trying to sell employers on your innate abilities instead of your work ethic.

Your work ethic is important. (Shutterstock/ESB Basic)

You could have gotten a perfect LSAT score. But if you aren’t dedicated to working hard, that might come across to potential employers and they’ll toss your résumé in the bin.

Burger King CEO Daniel Schwartz said smarts alone won’t necessarily seal the deal when you apply for a job.

“One question I ask is, ‘Are you smart or do you work hard?'” he once told Adam Bryant of The New York Times. “You want hard workers. You’d be surprised how many people tell me, ‘I don’t need to work hard, I’m smart.’ Really? Humility is important.”

 

3. You’re coasting on your degree or connections.

Don’t entirely rely on them. University of Exeter/flickr

Similar to talking up your intelligence, resting on your diploma or your network also might not reflect as well on you as you think. This is because employers have wised up to the idea that sometimes, a pedigree or vast network just means you got a lucky break.

“Employers in all industries are finally wising up to the limits of fancy credentials as predictors of on-the-job success,” a report in Fast Company said. “Too often, high test scores and degrees from elite universities signal wealthy parents and other forms of privilege at least as much as they signal competence and expertise.”

 

4. You’re trying too hard to seem like the typical, cookie-cutter candidate.

There’s nothing wrong with standing out. (NBCUniversal)

Sometimes, in an effort to fit into a company’s perceived culture, job seekers might sanitize their résumé to make them seem like an average college grad.

But according to a study covered by Fast Company, this might be a misguided approach. In the study, 70% of hiring professionals agreed that: “If a candidate has the right skills for an open position, it doesn’t matter what type or format of education was used to get them.”

 

5. You’re keeping your cover letter vague just to be safe.

Being specific can be a good thing. (Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

Cover letters are boring and repetitive. And if your cover letter looks the same as everyone else’s, you can’t be on a callback.

If you add in some specificity, though, you might have better luck.

Lisa Siva, a writer for The Muse, hit on a cover letter formula that upped her response rate drastically, and specificity was one of her key tactics. Instead of telling potential employers you can do things “quickly,” she recommends a sentence such as this:

“If you’re looking for someone who can not only keep up, but also deliver that SEO-friendly, 75-page street style slideshow five minutes ago…”

Siva writes, “Notice I didn’t say, ‘If you’re looking for someone who can turn around projects quickly…’ I was specific, and I made sure to use an example I knew would resonate with a stressed-out web editor.”

 

6. You’re updating your LinkedIn profile too often.

You might want to turn off your activity feed. (HBO)

If you have your activity feed turned on, everyone can see and you might look like a total flake.

“I have a contact who starts a new job, on average, three times a week… I know this because I regularly get notifications asking if I’d like to congratulate her,” writes Sara McCord at The Muse. “This doesn’t make her look ambitious. Instead, it makes her look like she’s finding new jobs and quitting them with lightning speed.”

Turn off that feed — and maybe focus more on résumés and cover letters than a LinkedIn profile that might not even be checked.

 

7. Your résumé has way too much information.

Try to keep it brief. (CityYear/Flickr)

A lot of recruiters and employers don’t have time to read every single word on your résumé, so don’t make it harder on them. Edit, edit, edit, and the info that actually matters will take center stage.

“Cutting distracting content might feel odd at first, but it’s vital to refining the message you deliver,” résumé,builder Erica Breuer told The Muse.

 

8. You’re giving the safest possible answers in interviews.

Be specific. (ABC)

Again, specificity is your friend. If you’re being asked to talk about yourself, listing your skills is not the most impressive thing to do.

Instead, focus on telling stories and using examples frm your professional or school life, according to The Muse.