7 Job Searching Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Woman Job Searching

No one is a professional job seeker.

Job searching is something that only happens a handful of times throughout your life and it’s often unplanned. With that being the case, mistakes are likely if you don’t learn how to properly take on the role of a job seeker. Mistakes during a job search can lead to burned bridges, longer unemployment and wasted time. Here are simple solutions to common job searching mistakes that can help you get the results you’re looking for.

Crowded Application Materials

Some people like to pack as much content as possible onto their resume and cover letter so that no matter what position they apply for, the employer will know everything they’ve ever done. However, this usually isn’t the best strategy for getting your application materials in the “yes” pile.

Employers and recruiters often spend a very limited amount of time (sometimes just a few seconds) scanning resumes and cover letters. If there’s too much content, it can be hard to read and difficult for them to find the key information they’re looking for.

Keep your cover letter to no more than a few paragraphs with an appropriate amount of white space on the page. And provide a clean, crisp resume with font sizes, margin sizes and formatting that prioritizes the readability of the document, not getting as many words on the page as humanly possible.

Unprofessional Correspondence

Every interaction with every person related to your job search needs to be professional. Whether you’re submitting your application materials via email, messaging the administrative assistant to ask a question about your interview schedule or leaving a voicemail with HR to follow up on your application, the way you communicate can affect an employer’s decision about offering you a job.

If you’re typing, use clear, complete sentences with correct spelling and grammar. If you’re speaking, plan what you would like to say as much as possible. Show employers that you’ll be an effective communicator with their clients and customers if you’re hired!

Not Having a Strategy

“Winging it” is not the way to go with a job search. Without a strategy, job searching can be fruitless and frustrating. Many people go too broad with their search by applying for every job they see, while others go too narrow by only searching for the one word on the same website hoping that a new opportunity will pop up.

Here are some strategic decisions you need to make before starting your search:

  • What are my boundaries and needs for a position related to the location, salary, schedule, benefits, etc.?
  • What websites am I going to use to search for jobs?
  • What keywords can I search by to find jobs I might be interested in?
  • What workflow will I use? For example, will I find a bunch of jobs and then apply for them all at once? Or find jobs and apply one at a time?

A career coach or mentor can be a very helpful resource for this step!

Not Preparing for Interviews

Do you ever find yourself thinking “why am I saying this?!” while you’re actively talking? That’s something that should be avoided in an interview setting. And the best way to do that is to prepare.

When you don’t prepare for an interview, you might end up saying something you regret, communicating things in a very unclear way, forgetting key points, or not saying anything at all. Follow these steps to prepare for interviews:

  • Write out how you will introduce yourself.
  • Make a list of the key skills, experiences, and qualifications from the job description. Then write a specific example of how you exhibit each of those qualities or a time that you’ve done each of those things.
  • List your top 3 strengths with relevant examples.
  • List your top weakness with an explanation of how you’re overcoming it.
  • Write 3-5 questions for the employer.

But the most important step is to practice saying all these things out loud!

Listing References Without Asking Them First

When employers call your references, it doesn’t leave a good impression when the person you listed doesn’t seem to know what’s going on. It can show a lack of planning and consideration that might be a red flag for an employer.

Make sure you ask your references ahead of time if they’re okay with you listing them on your application. Confirm their contact information and provide them with your resume and the job description for the positions you’re applying for so they can be ready to speak to your skills and experiences.

Not Following Up

Employers get hundreds of applications for each position they post. Don’t sit back and hope they reach out! If it’s been a reasonable amount of time since you applied (usually about two weeks), kindly reach out to check on your application with a quick and professional email or phone call. This is a way to separate yourself from the crowd and show your genuine interest in the position. However, avoid being over assertive by reaching out too soon or too frequently.

Not Knowing Your Value

You are your own advocate in your job search. It’s your responsibility to know what you’re worth and to politely make sure employers know and respect that. Be prepared with a salary that meets your needs and aligns with industry standards and local costs of living. In addition, make sure you aren’t giving up more time, flexibility or responsibility than you’re truly willing to just to please an employer or get an offer. You’re valuable and your priorities matter even in a job search!

So, while you might not be a professional job seeker (because none of us really are), you can make employers think you are to get the results you’re looking for by avoiding these common job searching mistakes in the future.

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