person working on a laptop on a deskSometimes an unintentional mistake can keep you from a great job or internship opportunity. Here are a few tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls when seeking employment.

Adapt your resume to match the job description

Submitting the same resume and cover letter for different applications won’t help you stand out to employers. Be sure to tailor your resume and cover letter for each opportunity, even if the jobs or internships seem similar.

After reviewing a job description, take note of the keywords and phrases they use or the skills they are seeking. Your resume will get more traction if you use the same words and phrases. Then, use VMock to get personalized feedback on your resume and make improvements. This online resume-review tool leverages data-science, machine learning and natural language processing to provide feedback based on criteria gathered from employers and global best practices. 

Proofread

Little mistakes on your resume or cover letter can stand out in a big way. This can influence the employer’s overall perception of you as a candidate. Double-check that the names, job titles and companies on your application materials match the job you are applying for—especially when you’re creating tailored documents for each application.

Next, get in the habit of proofreading everything. Print and read your resume and cover letter starting at the end and moving backwards to catch any typos or errors. Next, ask a friend, family member or a Career Services team member to proofread them as well. You can never be too careful!

Don’t let your social media tell the wrong story

Employers regularly search the internet to look for more information about candidates. If the social media content they find seems concerning, they may not move you to the next step.

If an employer searches your name online, what will they find? Will the information and photos they see help or hurt you in the job search? As you review your online activities, think about your online presence from an employer’s perspective. 

  • If there’s anything that could be perceived as negative or concerning, consider removing it. 
  • Consider which social media accounts you want to be private and check to make sure those settings are up to date. 
  • Be sure anything you are putting out there is a good representation of who you are. This includes email names, social handles, websites, hashtags, photos, etc. 

In some ways, your online presence could be an asset in your job or internship search. Update your profiles to ensure they accurately reflect you, your activities and your interests. For example, if you’re passionate about making change in the world, show how you’re involved in your community with photos, blogs or shared articles. Be active in your field of interest on social media. Especially on LinkedIn, you can post industry-related news, questions, quotes or articles. Follow inspiring people and companies in your field, but avoid connecting with hiring managers unless invited to or until you have been hired by that person.  

Don’t be afraid to go for it

The only sure way of not being considered for an internship or job is to never apply for it. Sometimes we talk ourselves out of great opportunities if we don’t think we meet all the qualifications listed on the description. If you’re interested in a position and think you could do the job well, apply—even if you don’t meet every single item on the list. Most employers will interview candidates if they meet most of their criteria.

For more tips on finding an internship or job this year, check out weekly programs and workshops from Career Services. These free workshops will share best practices for resumes, networking, making progress in your search and more.