There are a few golden rules to follow when searching for a new job: Check your resume for typos, address the right company in your cover letter and be on time for all interviews, to start.
Some mistakes, however, are less obvious, and harder to avoid – but such oversights can be the difference between landing a job offer and getting rejected.
Lauren Gardner, the head of global talent acquisition at Microsoft, understands these mistakes all too well. She's evaluated thousands of job candidates in her 31 years working for the tech giant, and tells CNBC Make It that job-seekers tend to make one major mistake during their search.
According to Gardner, the worst thing a candidate can do is resort to "blanket applications." "They'll send out a thousand resumes and hope that one gets a hit," she explains. "I wouldn't recommend sending out only one or two applications, but when you send out too many, people will start to question what you're truly passionate about."
Instead, Gardner recommends targeting your job search, starting with a list of 10-15 companies you're interested in and expanding your search if you're not seeing results. "You want to make sure that you can demonstrate genuine interest in multiple companies," she adds.
It's also important to be succinct and make your resume fit on one page. "People oftentimes provide ridiculously long resumes, but nobody has time to review all of that information," Gardner says.
Your resume doubles as your elevator pitch: If you had someone's attention for 30 seconds, what would you want them to know about you?
"I've seen some fantastic resumes where people not only capture their skills and experiences, but they include a short 'interests' section highlighting their hobbies and passions, and they cover it all in under a minute [of reading time]," Gardner says. "That's about as much as people have an attention span to review – you want to call out the things that are most unique to you, fast."
Gardner recommends a similar targeted approach to other aspects of the job search. "You don't need to write a hundred cover letters – you'll drive yourself crazy," she says.
Have a basic cover letter structure on hand for job applications, and tailor the details to each company, or role, you're applying for. "We know that it's a hot market and people are applying to many different companies," Gardner says. "But why are you applying to ours, and what is most interesting to you about working here?"
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