From worrying about your resume to debating the perfect interview outfit, most people agree searching for a new job can be anxiety inducing. Seventy-eight percent of job seekers surveyed by Jibe, a recruiting software company, said they found searching for work stressful. Sixty percent went so far as to describe it as painful.
Many people surveyed said they were annoyed when they took the time to fill out complicated online job applications and then heard crickets from employers. Confusion about what companies are looking for from candidates only adds to the stress. If you’ve ever spent too much time wondering how long your resume should really be or the best way to follow up after an interview, you know what we’re talking about.
It’s not that you shouldn’t worry about the little details. Spelling someone’s name wrong, not sending a thank-you note after an interview, or having a hard-to-read resume will make an impression on an employer — and probably not a positive one. But some of the things job seekers stress about don’t matter nearly as much as they think they do.
Take resume fonts: Typography experts might think using Times New Roman on your resume is “like putting on sweatpants,” but unless you’re applying for jobs as a designer, the HR manager probably just wants something that’s easy to read.
Fretting over fonts isn’t the only thing that job seekers are spending way too much brain power on. If you’re looking for a job, don’t stress about these 10 things, which many employers just don’t care about.
1. How flashy your resume is
Worried your resume is looking a bit pedestrian? Don’t be. Having a flashy-looking CV isn’t as important as having one that shows you have what it takes to do the job — and that’s easy to read. Even in creative fields, such as advertising and marketing, 78% of executives surveyed by The Creative Group said they preferred traditional resumes. Overdesigned resumes that don’t use simple fonts and standard section headings can be distracting.
“Professionals today have many options when it comes to showcasing their skills and qualifications to potential employers,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “It can be tempting to try something new, but the best resumes cut to the chase and paint a clear picture of why a candidate will be a good fit for the role and organization.”
2. How clever your cover letter is
Periodically, a particularly clever cover letter or job application makes the rounds on the internet. There’s the college student who rapped his way into an internship with Jimmy Fallon. Or there’s the Chance The Rapper fan who created a detailed website in the hopes of landing a job with his favorite musician. Everyone, it seems, is urging you to think outside the cover letter box. Is it any wonder you’re tempted to spend hours crafting the perfectly witty email in response to that Craiglist job ad?
Well, you can relax a bit. Although ditching the stale cover letter jargon is a good thing (“I saw your ad seeking an account manager and believe my skills and experience make me the perfect candidate for the position” = yawn), your cover letter doesn’t need to break new creative ground, either. Use your cover letter to show why you’re a great fit for the position, be professional, and be concise. And remember, it is definitely possible to be too informal in a cover letter.
3. Your GPA
You worked hard to earn your 4.0, but we have some bad news. Most employers don’t really care about your stellar GPA. (On the flip side, that’s good news if you slacked off in your statistics class.) On WayUp, a career site for college students and recent grads, less than 10% of job listings have GPA requirements. In a 2016 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, having a high GPA only moderately influenced a company’s decision to hire a new grad. More important was your major and whether you had leadership experience.
That’s not to say some employers won’t screen applicants based on their GPA. Some do; others don’t. Overall, 57% of recruiters Jobvite surveyed said a candidate’s GPA didn’t matter. And once you have some solid career experience, your college grades are basically irrelevant.
4. Your summer jobs
Lying on your resume is a bad idea, but that doesn’t mean you have to include details of every job you’ve ever had. Leaving off short-term gigs, jobs that aren’t relevant to the position to which you’re applying, and the part-time job you had in college is perfectly fine.
“Your resume is a branding document, not a legal document. You can list the jobs you want to list and leave off the jobs you want to omit,” career expert Liz Ryan said in Forbes. In other words, no one ever has to know you quit your summer job scooping ice cream after mouthing off to your boss.
5. Where you went to college
Panicky high school students (and their parents), rejoice: Where you go to college matters a lot less to employers than the fact you earned a degree. When Gallup polled business leaders in 2014, only 9% said where a job applicant went to college was very important when making hiring decisions. More than half said it either didn’t matter at all or wasn’t very important.
When it comes to higher education, what you studied is more important than where you earned your degree, the survey found. But what employers really wanted to see was people who were knowledgeable in their field and who had applied skills. Roughly 80% of people surveyed said those things were very important.
6. Whether you studied abroad
The five months you spent living in France might have been life-changing, but to potential employers, it doesn’t really matter. Having studied abroad had hardly any influence on an employer’s decision to offer a recent grad a job, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers survey. In fact, it mattered less than any other factor.
Studying abroad can still be a worthwhile experience for your career, though. Employers do want to hire people who can communicate and work with people from different cultures, a survey by the American Association of Colleges and Universities found, and experience studying or working in another country is one way to show you can do that. If you can connect your experience abroad with your specific career goals, it’s much more likely to work in your favor, experts told CNN.
7. Minor interview mistakes
Even the most prepared job seekers occasionally make interview mistakes. You ramble in your answers, forget to silence your cellphone, or drop an expletive while chatting with your interviewer. These are all big interview gaffes, but they don’t have to derail the entire conversation. Sometimes a quick recovery and apology is enough to smooth over the damage. In other cases, such as when you have a brain freeze when answering a question, you can circle back to the topic later in the interview or send a follow-up email.
“Although interview blunders may be embarrassing, candidates who can quickly recover might actually turn an awkward moment into a time to shine,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. While you always want to do your best to appear polished and professional, many interviewers understand you’re only human are willing to overlook minor blunders.
8. If your resume is 2 pages
At some point, someone probably told you your resume shouldn’t be more than one page. If that advice has left you trying to squeeze a diverse job history onto an 8½-by-11-inch sheet of paper, we have some good news. The idea that all resumes should be a single page is bunk.
It’s true people in the early stages of their career should probably keep their resume to one page, if possible. But as you gain experience and pile up accomplishments, you might need an extra page to fit it all in. That’s OK. Just remember to keep your resume focused, and use it to tell a story about your career, not list every single thing you’ve done over the past 10 years. Including irrelevant information was a major job application blunder, an Accountemps survey found.
9. Whether your cover letter is addressed to a specific person
Going nuts trying to find the name of a specific person to whom you can address your cover letter? Stop. It’s OK to use “Dear Hiring Manager” as a salutation, according to career expert Alison Green. “[P]lease don’t spend time tracking down the person’s name; we don’t care about this,” she urged job seekers.
Obviously, if a name is mentioned in the job advertisement, use it. But if it’s not immediately obvious who will be reading your letter, the generic approach is acceptable. Not sure which salutation to use? Forty percent of employers preferred “Dear Hiring Manager,” a survey by Saddleback College found. Only 17% liked “Dear Sir or Madam.”
10. How you send your thank-you note
Sending a thank-you note after an interview is common courtesy. It also gives you a chance to reiterate the reasons you’d be a good fit for the position. Yet 57% of bad-mannered job seekers don’t bother to say thanks after an interview, according to a CareerBuilder survey, even though 1 out of 5 hiring managers say they’re less likely to hire people who don’t send a note.
Sending a thank-you note is important, but whether you send an old-fashioned handwritten note or a quick email doesn’t matter as much, Green wrote on her Ask a Manager blog. With so many candidates not bothering with notes as all, any kind of thank you will make you stand out.