This is the first in my series on the most common "dumbest mistakes" you're probably making when applying for job after job.

Mistake 1

Employers get so many resumes and letters saying the same worn-out things and using the same tired old phrases, that it's hard to see the difference between the applicants. Phrases like: "I'm good with people," "I'm a good learner" and "I love a challenge" appear on nearly every application that's ever been written, and simply makes you part of the crowd. Weed these cliched phrases from your application and instead replace them with powerful reasons to hire you.

As you know, the job doesn't always go to the person with the best skills � it usually goes to the person that sells themselves the best. It's the difference between tunnel-vision and funnel-vision. A person with tunnel-vision writes short-sighted letters telling the employer what a good X they are, and how much experience they have.

To apply funnel vision, start at the small picture � "they need an X" and work toward the bigger picture � "they need an X to help make/save them money either directly or indirectly and to satisfy their customers' needs."

You be the judge. Imagine you're an employer looking for a secretary for example. Would you employ someone who says they can type 90 words a minute, or someone who says they will:

"Be the perfect ambassador for the business, always smiling and cheerful both face-to-face and over the phone. Able to do multiple things at once and can take care of the mundane tasks to free the other staff to spend more time doing what they do best. A salesperson should be selling � not photocopying...

A secretary with funnel vision will show an employer what THEY can do for THEM. A person with tunnel-vision will keep looking for work, or stay where they are.

Mistake #2

Employers hate trying to decipher information in resumes to see if you can be matched to a position they're trying to fill. An employer needs to see the benefits and results to them from the skills listed in your resume. This can be hard to do without sounding like an egotist, but some of our readers who've gotten it right have received phone calls within hours of the employer receiving the application.

Here are two examples:

* So you're just a lawyer? Does that mean you have knowledge and insights into areas that will save me in legal complications later on and that you and your negotiation skills can actually prevent me from having to take people to court which will cost me thousands whether I win or lose?

* So you're just a helpdesk operator? Does that mean you can create information packs and training materials for me to make my products the easiest to use and understand on the market, and add even more value to each sale? Or that you can take over the technical training for any of your staff who are frightened of computers, thereby boosting the productivity, profits and satisfaction levels of my staff?

Mistake #3

Long-winded resumes. The faster you get your message across the more they will like you. About two minutes is the maximum they spend reading an application - UNLESS you interest them. Learn the secrets of good copywriting and your application and resume will be as compelling as a John Grisham page-turner.

Mistake #4

Employers always see applications that only talk about the APPLICANT and their skills, not how they will be of benefit to the company. Your application needs to talk the employer's language. If the application simply talks about YOU, you've got it wrong.

The way to make sure you've got it RIGHT is to use the words "you" and "your" in your application more than the words "I" and "my". How much more? Five times more. (Hint: People like reading about themselves � so give your employer what he/she wants!)

Mistake #5

Employers are sick of applicants that have little knowledge of the company they're applying to. The more you know about a company, the easier it is to get the job. In fact, the more you know about the company, the more you sound like someone who is there to help, rather than someone who's simply looking for a job.

About the Author

I am a marketing junkie with a family involvement in the award-winning Spirit House Restaurant. I'm also a paraglider pilot to which people suggest I have a death wish but to me it's more of a life wish.