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Job Seeker Mistakes - Hall of Shame

3130614700 694321cd64 Job Seeker Mistakes   Hall of Shame
This month I posted a position for a Research and Communications Specialist. It's an entry-level position for a recent college graduate. I'm not an advocate of using job boards to recruit top talent, but this wasn't a position that warranted a full-scale search effort, so I posted it (disclosure: It was for Paradigm Staffing, not our clients).

I'm worried about the generation of young professionals entering the workforce if the responses I received reflect the lack of professional presentation skills upon departing these expensive university educations. My email filled with over 100 resumes for this position and only two of them were candidates I would consider based on their resumes and introductions.

Embarking on the first job search for a recent graduate is confusing, stressful and a learning experience every step of the way. But there is no excuse for not knowing the basics.

A job candidate should at least be able to write an introductory letter, especially when the job ad specifies the required materials. Of course, it should always be free of grammatical and spelling errors.

Here are some of the most interesting excerpts from this recent job post:

There I gained valuable experience in photocopying and other secretarial skills.

Lesson: Photocopying is a responsibility, but not valuable experience. Demonstrate value to an organization through your accomplishments. Find a way to stand out. This person's other secretarial skills should be much more noteworthy than photocopying. Think about the importance of the job and what problem the position solves for the company. Those are the skills you should play up to your prospective employer. In this particular case, the candidate could talk about efficiency and streamlining certain business practices through his or her efforts.

i living here during one year and my planes are stay until july, I am in interesting the possition.

- from a Marketing major

Lesson: Spell check. End of discussion.

As a result of my varied experiences, I have learned how to work in various situations with varied goals.

- from a recent Communications graduate

Lesson: Diversify the language. Never use the same word more than once in a sentence. Ever.

I can offer to you is seven years of education and work experience where I learned how to communicate with customers, how of working as a team with co-workers, time management skills are necessary

- from a Business Management graduate

Lesson: I get what the candidate wants to say, but unfortunately, it is very obvious he didn't bother to look at what he wrote before he sent it.

This is a from a candidate I would have interviewed until I received an email five minutes later.

I'm sorry, my Outlook sometimes has problems forwarding emails with attachments.

- Organizational Communications graduate

Lesson: If you forget the attachment, it's excusable. Just don't lie and blame it on your Outlook program. It's insulting. It's a sure sign of someone who can not take responsibility for a simple mistake. Don't worry, you're not perfect and I expect you to make a ton of mistakes in the beginning. It's okay as long as you can admit them AND learn from them.

And my personal favorite:

I am a student from California Living in ____ currently just playing baseball and going to school with free time on my hands. I am studying Communication Studies and Interntional Business at (Ivy League University) and transportation would not be  problem. I think this would be great i have time on my hands and would like to be productive. Chau!

- not sure who he is because he didn't bother attaching a resume

Lesson: Some things are better left untouched.

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8 Comments - Add yours!

Adam Singer (March 26th, 2009)

Wow, just wow! Those are pretty bad…but hey, they’ll learn someday.

PabloS (March 26th, 2009)

“I’m sorry, my Outlook sometimes has problems forwarding emails with attachments.” – Organizational Communications graduate.


Thursday Buzz : The Work Buzz (March 26th, 2009)

[...] Job seeker hall of shame:  Lindsay Olson [...]

Callie_Crum (March 26th, 2009)

This quite frankly makes me wonder how students can graduate with a degree or even exist in a program where these kinds of high school mistakes are made! I completely understand your concern and worry about recent college graduates-this sheds a pretty dim light on the face of newcomers to the occupational world. I have found I take more pride in my job searching skills because I read this article!

CareerDev (March 26th, 2009)

I must say, the most frustrating thing is that after all of that these same people are probably blaming their failure to get an interview or job not on the quality of their application but on the market, on a nonresponsive hiring manager, on the career advisor at their school, on not having the right degree or whatever – anything but their own carelessness.

Lisa Azizian (March 28th, 2009)


So sad, and so frustrating. I see these mistakes also, and with way too much frequency. One simple lesson learned here: take your time to check and recheck your work, be it a resume, a cover letter or an introductory email. It blows my mind how many simple mistakes I see that could have been caught with more editing, or help from a second set of eyes to review their work. I think people forget this is their only chance to make a first impression on a recruiter or HR person. And unfortunately for many because of these mistakes it was their first and last chance.

Breona Smith (March 30th, 2009)

I too, am guilty of once forgetting to attach my resume and blaming it on the computer. I never heard from the employer but hey, I learned my lesson and I’m not ashamed of it.
As a recent college graduate, I am having an incredibly hard time finding employment. I thought I took all the right steps, I had my resume professionally done and tailored to my area of expertise, and sent my resume and cover letter to just about every place that was hiring in Arizona. It is tough out there right now but the sad part is if these other recent college grads are my competition, then I should be able to find employment sooner than later.

How Not To Apply To A Job | Gradversity (December 6th, 2009)

[...] looking back through some of my archived links I found this gem from Lindsay Olsen’s blog. Job Seeker Mistakes – Hall of Shame has a great collection of examples which highlight the mistakes made by Entry Level Job hunters [...]

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