Top Job Search Blunders Revealed

Canadian CFOs Say Irrelevant Application Information, Late Arrival to Interviews Are Most Common Mistakes

Toronto, ON – Job candidates have long been urged to put their best foot forward when applying for open positions. It’s simple advice, yet many job hopefuls fail to heed it. In an Accountemps survey, nearly two in five (39 per cent) Canadian CFOs said the most common mistake people make in their application materials is including irrelevant information; 29 per cent of executives said typos or poor grammar are the most frequent blunders. The biggest slip up during the interview is arriving late, CFOs said.

CFOs were asked, “What do you think is the most common mistake candidates make in their application materials?” Their responses:

They include irrelevant information


They contain typos or poor grammar


They’re not customized to the job the candidate is applying for


They focus on job duties and not accomplishments


Don’t know/no answer




CFOs were also asked “What do you think is the most common mistake candidates make during job interviews?” Their responses*:

Late arrival


Little or no knowledge of the company


Unprepared to discuss skills and experience


Lack of enthusiasm


Unprepared to discuss career plans or goals


Lack of eye contact




* Total does not equal 100 per cent due to rounding.

“Job candidates most likely to land the role are the ones who can demonstrate how they will provide value and contribute to company goals from day one,” said Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps. “Applicants who take the time to customize their resumes for specific positions, and arrive at interviews promptly and well-prepared, exhibit an enthusiasm for the role that leaves employers with a memorable impression of their ability to succeed.”

Typos and grammatical errors can also send a message that a job seeker lacks follow-through and attention to detail. Following are real-life mistakes seen in job application materials collected by Robert Half, parent company of Accountemps:

  • Skills: “Writing/listening/eaking. I can engage in intellectual conversations with a myrad of professionals.”
  • Job Duties: “Assisted company executives with travel arraignments.”
  • Education: “Currently perusing a master’s degree."
  • Job Duties: “Communicate financial projections to steakholders.”
  • Cover Letter: “All I ask is for you to consider my perspicacious aspiration to become an erudite factotum in your organization.”

Accountemps identifies eight of the biggest job search mistakes and how to avoid them:

  1. Adding irrelevant information to application materials: Stick to only the facts employers would be interested in, which are typically your credentials, experience and accomplishments. Keep your resume and cover letter concise.
  2. Skipping proofreading: Even one resume typo can eliminate a candidate from consideration. Review your materials thoroughly, and ask a confidant to read them, too.
  3. Failing to prepare: Research the company by reviewing its website and recent news articles. Incorporate what you learn into your cover letter and interview responses by making the connection between what the company needs and what you offer.
  4. Lying: Be honest. Fabricating or overstating your experience is never acceptable.
  5. Having an unflattering online presence: Conduct an online audit of your social media pages and remove any posts that could be perceived as unprofessional or inappropriate. 
  6. Being caught off-guard during salary discussions: Consult industry resources such as the 2017 Robert Half Salary Guide to learn about compensation ranges for jobs in your field. Understanding market trends will help you know what your skills and experience are worth.
  7. Relying solely on technology: Look for other ways to find job openings. Attend industry events, join professional associations and ask your current contacts for introductions to new ones.
  8. Going about your job search alone: Partner with a staffing firm and let them open doors for you. Be open to different types of positions, including temporary work.

About the Research

The survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of companies in Canada.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 325 offices worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at Follow us at @RobertHalf_CAN for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]

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