Common Mistakes Made by Graduate Job Seekers

Grace Dillon

The joy of graduating can vanish all too quickly when it comes to looking for a job: it's far from unusual for a graduate to submit scores of applications without finding success.

There are various reasons why employers might turn you down, some of which are beyond your control. However, sometimes you can end up missing out on a job because of your approach to the application process.

We know that rejection is frustrating and disheartening, so we've set down some advice on how to avoid some of the mistakes that can cost you a job. Take a look at our list of the most common mistakes made by graduate job seekers to see what you can do to boost your chances of employment.

Applying to roles that are above your level of experience

Be realistic - employers aren't going to hire someone who doesn't have solid experience in the job they're offering. If you have your heart set on a role but you don't have enough experience, look into gaining work experience or an internship before aiming for a permanent job.

Applying to a very narrow range of roles

Stick to what's realistic, but don't limit yourself too much: restricting your search to a slim range of roles drastically cuts your chances of success. Do more research - find out what else is out there. You're bound to find exciting opportunities that you may never have thought of or even known about!

Not tailoring your CV and cover letter

Your CV and cover letter are your introduction to a potential employer - we cannot stress enough just how important it is that they are perfect. Take the time to tailor them to the role: refer directly to the job title and emphasise that you have the skills and experience the employer is looking for: you want to convince them that you are the right person for the job.


As obvious as it may seem, you must make sure that your CV and cover letter are free of spelling errors, missed punctuation, and any other easily-remedied mistakes. Proofread both several times before submitting them to ensure that they are completely accurate and mistake-free.

Some employers may set specific questions as part of your application. Again, accurate spelling and grammar are essential. Furthermore, make sure you answer the questions properly - do not twist them to fit your answers.


Make sure you respond promptly when a potential employer gets in touch: taking a long time to reply gives the impression that you aren't really that interested in the opportunity they're offering you. If you are slightly late in getting back to them, be sure to apologise, and give an explanation for the delay.

Lack of research

Your interviewers will be expecting you to have some idea of what they do and what they're looking for. By learning about the company, you will show your interviewer that you have a genuine interest in working for them. Sometimes the descriptions that accompany job postings can be slightly vague, so read up on what is involved in the role to give yourself a better idea.

Lack of preparation

Don’t just wing it - think about what kinds of questions your interviewer may ask and how you might respond. Also, be sure to think of two or three questions you can ask: it is pretty much a given that your interviewer will invite you to ask some, and having nothing to ask can give the impression that you're not as interested as they might be expecting. Keep a couple of questions in mind to show your interviewer that you are invested in the opportunity they're offering.

Not requesting feedback

Missing out on a job is undeniably gutting, and it's understandable if you don't want to dwell on whether something you did (or didn't do) held you back. However, feedback is the most useful tool for perfecting your interview technique: if you are unsuccessful in gaining a role, make sure you ask your interviewer for their feedback and take their comments on board - you can use their constructive criticism to improve for the next one.

Following these guidelines should help you avoid making any costly mistakes when applying for a job. Take a look at some of our other blog posts for more advice on how to get a job you've been dreaming of!