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Don’t Fall for These 6 Job Search Mistakes

Today’s job search is a lot more complex than it was 10 years ago. Achieving a successful outcome quickly is usually the goal; and to do this, you’ll want to avoid some of these common job search mistakes.

1.  Your job search isn’t targeted

What kind of job(s) are you looking for? Do your skills, education, and experience match the job’s qualifications? What companies are you interested in working for?

If you’re just applying for jobs with no specific end goal in mind, you won’t be as successful as you might be by just taking out time to really think about what you want to do and where you want to work.

2. You make it hard for employers to immediately see your value

Those generic one-size-fits-all resumes don’t stand a chance against candidates who take the time to customize their resumes for the job in question. A customized resume will communicate your value (e.g. show how you can help said company solve a problem or achieve their goals). Job applicants that do this effectively can’t help but stand out from all the other candidates.

3. You’re confusing “activity” with “action”

I know these words seem similar, but one is more likely to help you reach your goal than the other. Spending a week tweaking your resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile so they’re perfectly perfect for when you actually start applying for jobs, is an example of activity. Yes, it can keep you busy for hours, but there’s no real return on the invested time, because you’re pretty much stuck in the preparation stage. While, preparation IS important, but it’s also crucial to move forward from this stage and take decisive action steps.

FACT: Most job search experts recommend employed job seekers spend at least 1-hour a day on their search efforts (2-3 hours per day if you’re unemployed). It’s a good idea to track the amount of time you spend on each task; and make sure most of your efforts go to high-value tasks like choosing the type of job position you’ll be targeting, researching companies, and networking (e.g. connecting with recruiters and company hiring managers).

4. You’re only applying for jobs on job boards

There’s nothing wrong with applying for jobs advertised on job boards, but I don’t recommend for that to be your ONLY job search method. According to research, close to ¾ of job openings are never publicly advertised. Many of these “hidden” jobs get filled internally (employee referrals) and through person-to-person networking connections.

5. You’re not doing your homework

If you were thinking of buying a house, you would research the neighborhood, schools, mortgage programs and even schedule a professional inspection first, right? This is how you should approach the job search process too. Getting an invitation to interview is not the home stretch. Before you even THINK about showing up to an interview, you’d better learn all about the company and the position you’re applying for (requirements, salary, etc.). I also recommend researching the person who will be interviewing you, if you’re lucky enough to get that information beforehand.

6. You don’t ask questions

Don’t be shy; show some initiative! If the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?” you darn well better have a few well thought out questions ready to go. This is your big chance – don’t let this opportunity pass by without taking full advantage. Reiterate your interest in the position, and then politely ask, “What’s the next step?”

Other questions to consider: “Do you need any additional information from me?” or “Can I follow up with you next week?” and “Would you prefer that I contact you by phone or email?” Keep in mind that  you’re competing against other highly-qualified job candidates so show them that you’re the best person for the job!

Photo Credit: Christoffer Engström,

Now be honest… is the resume and cover letter you’ve been submitting for jobs getting you noticed? Are you receiving invitations to interview? If  not, we should talk! Contact me by phone: 1-866-562-0850 or email: for a NO COST, NO OBLIGATION 15-minute consultation. 


Kimberly Ben is a multi-credentialed Professional Resume and LinkedIn Writer and Job Search Coach. She has written hundreds of resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and other career communications for multiple career industries and professions. Kimberly’s extensive education, training, and experience have resulted in a clear understanding of current hiring best practices and the most effective job search techniques, branding strategies, and insight on what it takes to gain the competitive edge and impress employers in a challenging job market.

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