3 Silly Mistakes Smart People Make After Submitting Their Application

In some ways, clicking the “submit” button and applying for a job is cathartic. You’ve put in a lot of hard work to spruce up your resume and cover letter, and frankly, you’re kind of over the whole thing. The problem is that for many people, only a few minutes go by before they start thinking about all the things they might’ve done wrong.

If I were to tell you all the concerns I’ve had after applying for some jobs, this article would be at least five times its current length. But it turns out that a lot of the things you’re worrying about (Did I spell the hiring manager’s name right? Should I have sent a bonus writing sample?) are out of your control now. So instead of stressing out, focus on not making these three mistakes.

1. You’re Ignoring the Follow-up Instructions on the Job Listing

If I had a dollar for every time I posted a job online with the words “no calls” in the description, I’d have dozens of dollars. But, if I had the same dollar for every time a candidate ignored those instructions, I’d be able to retire tomorrow.

This should be one of the first things you look for on a posting whenever you apply, especially after you send in your materials. Sure, conventional wisdom might say that this is a great way to grab the recruiter’s attention. And technically, it is.

But if a job listing emphasizes the fact that the company does not want to hear from applicants, being “proactive” in this case won’t help your cause. In fact, if you’re too persistent on the phone, you might end up hurting your chances of hearing back.

Instead, if you’re dying to know your status, email is a much better (and less annoying) option. Writing a follow-up email on an application can be hard, but whenever you’re stuck for ideas, use this handy template.

2. You’re Not Double-Checking to See if You Have a Connection at the Company

Want to stay on top of mind with a company that you were pumped to apply for? Cold follow-up emails won’t necessarily do the trick, but taking a quick peek at the employer’s LinkedIn page to see if you know anyone who currently works there might.

Normally I’d say that you should do this before you apply, but I get it. Sometimes you see a gig that sounds amazing and you want to submit your materials ASAP. I’ve done this plenty of times, only to regret skipping this step of the process immediately. And in most of those instances, I simply chalked it up to a missed opportunity that was no longer on the table.

The truth is that while it’s not always ideal to wait until after you submit your application to reach out to an “in” at your dream company, some employers actually prefer this. And even if the company doesn’t have a strong preference, I’ve written up plenty of recommendations for friends and former colleagues well after they originally submitted their application materials. So, if you haven’t gotten around to digging around to see who you know, don’t be afraid to find out (and reach out) after the fact.