job search mistakes

19 Job Search Mistakes That Could Cost You

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Is your job search not going the way you’d hoped? Are you sending off resumes or going on interviews only to be ghosted by companies? Before throwing in the towel, make sure you’re not accidentally making these common job search mistakes that could be costing you a job.

1. Job search mistake #1: Looking only at online job postings

With the rise of online job boards, many miss out on opportunities by only looking at a few popular sites. Why’s that? Because 60% of jobs are not found online, but through networking. So relying solely on online searching would be a big mistake.

That said, don’t disregard online job boards. Make sure to use a combination of both online job searching and offline networking when looking for your next position.

2. Ineffective networking

Networking is still one of the best ways to land your dream role, and there are tons of ways to network. You can attend formal networking events, join alumni groups, volunteer at companies of interest, or contact current or former employees on social media, to name a few.

Rely on family and friends to make new contacts or use LinkedIn to connect with a whole new world of people. If you don’t build your professional network, you could have a much tougher time landing a job. 

3. Sharing too many details

The hardest part of a resume and cover letter is finalizing what makes it to the final version. Listing out every single accomplishment or job responsibility you’ve ever had would be a mistake that would quickly make a hiring manager’s eyes glaze over.

Instead, consider what hiring managers need to know about you at a glance and highlight that information in a succinct and easily readable way. 

4. Having grammar and spelling errors

Many employers will toss your resume aside upon finding a typo. You certainly don’t want to boast about your attention to detail and then have your resume and cover letter be riddled with mistakes.

Before sending anything over, make sure all your stuff is mistake-free. Use spell check and Grammarly.com, and ask friends or family to read your materials over. Better safe than sorry.

5. Outright lying

It seems obvious that lying on your resume is a mistake, yet many do it. You can be asked about anything on your resume, so be prepared to provide proof. 

A prospective employer might want to call a former employer or check that you graduated from a certain school. Or if you include special skills on your resume, the interviewer might ask you to do a skills test then and there.

Avoid any potential issues by staying truthful on your resume, and avoid the temptation to exaggerate. 

6. Using a generic resume and cover letter

Sending off a generic resume and cover letter is a common job search mistake that could hurt your chances of getting an interview. After all, each job posting asks for different requirements, skills, and expectations, so how can you have one resume that works for all of them?

Instead of sending the same copy to everyone, tailor your materials to each position by highlighting relevant experiences and skills that match the posting. As long as you’re applying for similar roles, you probably only need to spend a few minutes making adjustments.

7. Including unrelated or random facts about yourself

While a “personal hobbies” section at the end of your resume can personalize your application, including too many random facts would be a mistake. Remember that a hiring manager is looking for someone who has certain skills and qualifications, so focusing too much on how you won third place in a Pokemon competition probably won’t win you major points.

That said, it could be worth highlighting relevant hobbies; for instance, if you’re a social media manager who does photography on the side, that could bring some value.

8. Not including a cover letter

Even though a job posting may say that a cover letter isn’t required, why skip it? Your cover letter is another great opportunity to highlight your accomplishments and dazzle the hiring manager. Plus, you wouldn’t want to get disqualified from consideration for not including a cover letter

9. Not following instructions

Many people quickly glance over a job posting, submit a resume, and move onto the job posting. To ensure applicants have read their entire posting, some hiring managers slip in odd instructions. Some instructions may be silly, like start your email with “avocado,” whereas others are critical, like all resumes must be submitted as a PDF.

Either way, missing important instructions is a job search mistake better left avoided. 

10. Being too slow to respond

Let’s say a hiring manager reaches out to invite you to an interview. If you take weeks to respond, the hiring manager will probably just move on to the next candidate. Even though you’re busy, try your best to respond within one business day.

11. Not doing your research

Failing to do research on the company could doom you in an interview. Instead of being caught unawares, set yourself up for success by doing your due diligence on the company. Make sure you review the company’s mission, culture, values, recent news, products, services, and more.

All this research will help you ask insightful questions and seem excited to be there.

12. Not preparing questions

Even if you’ve done the research, it will go to waste if you don’t prepare questions for your interviewer. Go into the interview prepared with a list of insightful questions that show your interest and enthusiasm.

13. Failing to test your interview equipment

If you’re interviewing for a remote position, chances are you’ll do a video interview using a platform like Zoom or GoogleVideo. Make sure your camera and microphone are working ahead of the interview, and ensure your internet connection is steady.

Failing to do so could lead to stressful technical difficulties, which in turn could mess with your confidence, not to mention make you look unprepared.

14. Being too casual

Even if the environment and company culture are very relaxed, don’t let your guard down. You’re still expected to put your best foot forward and come off as professional.

Although it’s great to make a personal connection with your interviewer, don’t start talking about how late you partied last weekend or how hungover you were the next day. 

15. Insulting your previous employer

Never insult a previous employer because the hiring manager could assume you’ll do it again. Even if you’re leaving a job where you were disrespected, overworked, and underpaid, keep the complaints to yourself.

Instead, focus on what you learned working there and how it will help you in the future.

16. Talking way too much

An interview is a conversation, not a presentation. You want to encourage a back-and-forth conversation with whomever you’re interviewing with. Even though you’re the focus of attention, you don’t need to completely monopolize the conversation.

17. Being distracted during the interview

The last thing you want to do is seem distracted. Make sure your cell phone is turned off or on silent, and ensure you’re conducting the interview in a quiet space without interruptions. Think about any potential distractions beforehand so you can prevent them and focus 100% on the interview.

18. Not sending a thank-you note

Sending a thank you is still considered proper etiquette immediately following an interview. Show your effort by referencing a joke or specific talking point from the interview while still keeping it professional.

This follow-up is also a great way to express your enthusiasm again and keep your candidacy fresh in the hiring manager’s mind. 

19. Not being responsive

After an interview, the hiring manager may reach out for additional information or questions or to schedule the next interview. They may ask for a copy of your portfolio, a reference, or any additional items.

Make sure you respond as quickly as possible to keep your name top of mind. Wait too long, and they could move on to someone else.

Avoid these job search mistakes to put your best foot forward

The job search can be stressful, and you have to be on your A-game from your initial application until your offer letter. But as long as you avoid these job search mistakes, you can feel confident that you’re giving it your all. So stay focused, and trust that the right job is on its way, even if it’s taking a little while to get to you. 

Once you finally land it, make sure to learn how to negotiate a salary that works for you — and how to avoid common salary negotiation mistakes that could limit your earning potential. 

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