Job Search Mistakes You Can Avoid

Elizabeth Enck

Job Search Mistakes You Can Avoid

Too many people go into their job search without enough focus. Many job seekers think that by being very open with their search they are making things easier. The problem is that without focus it is hard to know where to even begin. It is actually easier to begin with a more narrowed search and then to expand. I often compare it to looking for a phone number in the phone book.

1. Being too open with your job search

Without a name it’s impossible to find who you are looking for. Without at job title or a type of job it is impossible to search through every possible job out there and find what you are looking for. Try to come up with a list of job titles or types of positions you may be interested. Then you can use job search resources specifically for that industry which will help to maximize your results.

2. Too much follow up

Follow up is something you may hear mixed messages about. Some people advise that you should always follow up for every job you apply to. However, you often are unable to find contact information for hiring managers and many employers actually tell you not to not to call or contact them. Typically, if an employer is interested in you they will contact you. Most employers receive many applications, possibly hundreds for each position. If every applicant called to follow up they would spend all of their time on the phone. They best way to get their attention is to have great application materials including your application, cover letter and resume.

3. Errors on application materials

Errors and mistakes on your application materials will cost you jobs. While we all make mistakes, your application materials are usually the first impression an employer has of you. They don’t know that you typically don’t make mistakes in your work. If an employer finds multiple errors on your resume they will likely make assumptions about you. These may include that you do not pay attention to detail, don’t care enough to take your time to proof your resume, are lazy, have poor writing skills, etc. Errors can also be one of the first things that gets your resume thrown out of consideration right away. Make sure to take the time to really review your materials and consider asking someone else to review it as well.

4. Relying on one strategy

There are many ways to look for jobs. The key is to use multiple strategies instead of relying on only one. While it is tempting to just sit at your computer and look at job search sites over and over it may not lead you to the job you are looking for. Searching for jobs online is a great strategy, it’s just not the only one. You want to make sure you are using your network and letting other people help you with your search. Are there events such as job fairs you can attend? The more time and effort you put into your job search the more success you will find.

5. Unprofessional appearance

As I mentioned earlier, first impressions count. Once your first impression on paper has moved you onto the interview, your in-person first impression is going to count. Think about how you want to appear to an employer. You likely want to appear confident, professional, knowledgeable, and friendly. How can you dress the part? Typically interview dress includes a suit, a matching jacket and pants/skirt. If a suit is not required then business casual dress may be appropriate. This could be a dress shirt and pants and tie. Make sure you are well groomed and your hair and nails are clean and cut.

6. Not asking questions in an interview

During a job interview the employer is going to ask if you have any questions for them. The answer should always be yes. Remember that you are deciding if this job is a fit for you. What information do you need to make a well-informed decision? This information should guide your questions. Avoid asking questions about salary or vacation days at this time. You may want to ask questions about training, advancement opportunities, goals or plans for the position or even what the interviewer likes about the company. You also want to always ask what the next steps are in the hiring process.

7. Having a negative online presence

Your online presence is now often a part of your first impression and personal brand. It is not uncommon for employers to look candidates up online before hiring them. Make sure anything a potential employer would find online is not detrimental to you being hired. Check your privacy settings on social media and do a search for yourself to make sure you know what is out there about you.

8. Not preparing enough for interviews

Before your interview day there is work that needs to be done. An interview is not something you want to “wing.” It is important that you do research on the employer before you go. Make sure to know what they do, who they serve and any background information you can find. You also want to review your resume and try to prepare for questions they may ask. Review the job description to get a good idea of what they are looking for. It is also helpful to practice answering interview questions with someone else.

9. Expecting your previous experience to speak for itself

Part of the job search process is about marketing. Your job is to think about how you can “sell” yourself to the employer. Why should they hire you? Your job is to convince them through your application materials and interview. You can’t expect that because you list a job on your resume the employer will know what that entailed. Make sure to give enough detail and really highlight your skills and abilities. Remember, you are competing with applicants. What sets you apart? Make sure that comes across to employers.

10. Having a negative attitude

If you’ve been job searching for a while or had a not so great experience at a past job, it can be easy to feel bitter. It is important to stay positive through your interview. People don’t want to hire negative people. Also, if you speak poorly about past employers they may think you would do the same to them. Make sure to focus on the positive and the future.

About The Author

Elizabeth Enck

Elizabeth Enck was a career counselor at The University Of Tennessee for 6 years. She worked with undergraduate, graduate students, and alumni with their career planning and job searching. This included providing assistance with resumes and cover letters, interviewing including conducting practice interviews, and guidance through the job search process. She has a Master's Degree in Counseling with an emphasis on career counseling.

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