Whether you are just starting your professional life, a seasoned pro looking to make a savvy career move, between jobs, or simply feeling the need to move on, the quality of your job hunt will determine your level of success.
Do you know what actions might put the kibosh on your quest? Here are 10 job-hunting mistakes to avoid.
- Relying on online job postings
The majority of jobs are snatched up before they make it to the Internet. If you sit back and wait for the right job to materialize on a job board, you’ll miss the best opportunities.
The U.S. Department of Labor claims that 70 percent of jobs are found through networking, so dust off your contacts, reach out in person, by phone, or by email, and let everyone in your personal and professional spheres know you’re on the hunt.
- Having unclear job or career goals
Not quite sure what you want to do? Think you’ll know the right job when you see it? Would you travel a long distance without a map?
Figure out what you want to do before beginning your search, and focus on a particular job, organization or industry. Job search focus will allow you to target ideal organizations and industries, craft a more powerful resume and better prepare for interviews.
- Looking for any old job
A recent job loss or layoff may make you feel desperate, especially in this economic climate. It’s rarely necessary to settle right away. Instead, give yourself as much time as possible to find the right fit.
If you reach a point where you have to consider jobs you wouldn’t have considered in more robust times, look for a job that will make you happy and will allow you to learn something new.
- Being unprepared for interviews
Nothing will close a door faster than a lackluster interview. Start by learning everything you can about the organization. Second, familiarize yourself with common interview questions and prepare your answers until you can recite them in your sleep.
Have a friend videotape you–your smartphone video camera will do just fine–so you can hear how you sound, see what you look like and make any necessary adjustments.
Not all that interested in the job? Prepare anyway. It’s good practice, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at the interview process.
- Going ape with guerrilla tactics
You want to be proactive in your job search, but you don’t want to come across as pushy, aggressive or overbearing.
It’s fine to reach out once in a while to keep in touch, to network and to ensure potential employers don’t forget about you or your interest in their organization. But in-your-face ploys like monopolizing phone and email inboxes, not taking “no” for an answer or approaching potential employers on their way in or out of the office or in other places they hang out just creates bad feelings… and is a little creepy.
- Passing out ineffective cover letters and resumes
Your cover letter and resume are your first impression. A cover letter that is rife with grammatical errors paired with a resume that is unfocused and poorly formatted will make it no further than the trash.
Rather than send generic copies of your resume, customize both your cover letter and resume for every job you apply for.
The more specifically your skills, knowledge and experience match a particular job, the more likely you are to get a second look.
- Sending a stock thank you note
Avoid sending generic thank you notes or emailing them. Even worse? Sending no thank you note at all. Instead, a handwritten, personalized, sincere note will send the message that you value the time that was spent with you.
What if the interview didn’t go well, or the job isn’t a good fit? Send a handwritten note anyway. You might run into that person again in a future job search, and a personalized note will increase the odds that you are favorably remembered.
- Being unprofessional with your contact information
Your friends and family might be okay with sending emails to firstname.lastname@example.org, and may be willing to endure Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” before leaving a message on your voicemail, but potential employers certainly won’t be.
If your email or voicemail can be construed as offensive or immature, change it. If you don’t want to get rid of your personal email address, secure an additional, more professional one from a free account like Yahoo or Gmail. Change your voicemail so it simply states your name and phone number.
- Not protecting your privacy
Posting your resume and contact information on job searching sites can pose a risk to your current position. Many employers search these sites to determine if their employees are on the prowl for new opportunities, and if you don’t limit access to your contact information, you’ll be easy to find.
Instead, arrange to allow potential employers to contact you through the job site, or set up an anonymous email through a server like Yahoo or Gmail.
- Lacking commitment
Looking for a job is… well… a full-time job. If you’re squeezing your search in between golf games and wondering why you haven’t landed your dream job yet, it’s due to your lackluster effort and lack of commitment.
Hoping that something will show up is a fatal strategy in today’s job market. Today’s job searches require action. Put your job hunt at the top of your priority list, and give it the time and attention it deserves.
Eliminate the mistakes, get the job
According to a recent survey, 83 percent of employees plan to look for a new job this year. You can improve the chances of landing a new job by eliminating these common job search blunders.