Common Job Search Blunders to Avoid

In the world of job-hunting – and in life in general for that matter – there are small mistakes that you can easily recover from (and even laugh off), and there are blunders that could cost you a great opportunity. To save you from sleepless nights wondering about what if and what might have been, we’re listing here the most common mistakes jobseekers make. Pay attention, because this article could spell the difference between success and failure in your search for the best jobs in Singapore.


Preparing an uninspired résumé. Your CV is your way of introducing yourself to your potential employer before they even get to see you. If you don’t take the time to prepare a good resume, you can’t expect to be called for an interview. Know what bullet points to include, and keep these brief but substantial. Be specific in stating your work experience and accomplishments.

Not sending a cover letter with the résumé. There are still quite a few jobseekers who think that sending out only their résumé will soon enough elicit a call for an interview. Wrong. The cover letter is just as important. It outlines your purpose in applying, how you can contribute to the company, and allows you to expound on points in your resume that you couldn’t expound on because of lack of space.

Including references not previously screened. Don’t ever assume that your previous supervisor and coworkers will be willing to put in a good word for you. No matter how well you think you performed while in their company, they might have some negative things to say about you. Ask these people first if it’s all right with them if you include them in your list of references. Also, try to include as many managers as you can. Their word holds more weight than that of a colleague who’s the same level as you.

Making an over-comprehensive work history. As you gain more work experience, your resume naturally expands. There comes a point, usually after about 15-20 years in various Singapore jobs, when you should edit out your earlier jobs. When you’ve been a professional for 20 years or more, your work history should go back only about 10-12 years.

Bringing a disorganized briefcase. If you open your briefcase to pull out a document during an interview, and you fumble through a mess of papers to locate that one document, you can be sure you’ve created a negative first impression. Managers want to see applicants who are neat and organized. This indicates that they’re serious about getting the job.

Going at applications one at a time. It’s understandable if you get excited when you receive a call for an interview. But know this, an interview doesn’t mean you’re going to get the job. It doesn’t even mean you have a good chance. It only means you’re one of the candidates. So don’t make the mistake of putting your other applications on hold. When you receive a call for an interview, don’t stop sending out your resume to choice companies and following up your existing applications. When you have more options, you have a better chance of landing the job you want at the company you want. There are a lot of jobs Singapore applicants are looking into. Don’t let them take away your opportunities.

Snubbing less “appealing” job descriptions. Of course you want to go after your dream job, but that doesn’t mean you should close your doors to other options. A job description that’s different from what you want isn’t necessarily less than what you want. By all means, check it out. You never know, you might find it interesting enough to give it a try. If it doesn’t pan out, at least you’ll have gained some valuable interview experience.

Refusing to entertain offers for temp jobs. You want a full time job, sure, but you shouldn’t rule out a contractual job either. If someone from one of your preferred companies calls you for a temp job interview, look at it this way: you’re getting half of what you want. It’s a company you want to work for. As for the other half, if you perform well enough during your contractual gig, this could very well translate into a permanent job. And even if it doesn’t, at least you’ve gained some valuable experience and made some contacts from within that company. Singapore temp jobs are actually a great way to gain some leeway in your job hunting.

Showing no respect for others. You already know that you should treat your interviewer with respect. But you also have to show him you’re respectful to everybody. If he conducts the interview in a restaurant or a café, and you display a condescending attitude towards the waiters and bus boys, he will see you as someone who probably wouldn’t get along well with your would-be officemates.

Having a negative attitude. Be conscious of the things you say, whether during face-to-face interviews or over the phone. Don’t make negative comments like, “There are probably a dozen applicants more qualified than me.” Instead, be positive, by saying “There are probably a dozen applicants who are after this job. I’m glad to be considered one of them.” A positive attitude is one of the things managers always look for.

Making too long or too short thank-you notes. The thank-you note after the interview is a standard gesture. But you have to keep it at a reasonable length. Send a note containing several long paragraphs and you’ll look pathetically desperate for the job. On the other hand, a terse, two-sentence thank-you note says that you’re really not serious about the job. A good thank you note simply expresses two things: 1) gratitude for the time given by the interviewer, and 2) the hope that the interview will translate into a good employment deal.

Giving up after being told “no.” It’s true that you can’t possibly make the manager change his mind once he’s said “no.” But don’t just leave it at that. Send him a note thanking him for the time he gave your application and wishing him well. That’s a sure way to be remembered in case he might need you later. Being overly pushy when following up. It’s one thing to show determination by calling and emailing to ask about the status of your application, it’s another thing altogether to be a pest. Exercise tact and restraint when following up, and the employer will appreciate your sense of professionalism.

Putting your work email address on your résumé. Office equipment should be used for work-related matters only. If you place your existing office email address in your resume, that tells the prospective employer that you wouldn’t hesitate to use their computers for your personal matters. Forgetting to filter your online photos. It might come as a surprise to you (though it really shouldn’t), but many employers google their applicants nowadays. If there are pictures of you online that paint a less than flattering image of you, it’s time to review your privacy settings. Of course, you should keep public pictures of that awarding ceremony where you won best plan at the last marketing summit. But anything that’s potentially embarrassing has to be kept private.

Thinking the company is there to help you.Yes, you do need the job, and it’s important to you. But when you face your interviewer, you have to impress upon him that you’re there to help him, not the other way around. He doesn’t want to hear about how many kids you’re raising, or the monthly amortizations you have to pay on your house, or the loans you have to pay off. What he wants to hear you say is, “I can help your company by….” That’s what your job search is really all about.

There are actually many other job-hunting mistakes, and new ones are probably being made every day. These are just 16 of the most common ones. The bottom line is, you have to use your better judgment. Stay on your toes, maintain your focus, think in terms of what the employer needs, and you’ll do just fine.

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