Career Advice

5 Common Job Search Mistakes to Avoid

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I’m confident that no job seekers intentionally sabotage their own efforts during their job search. However, this doesn’t mean self-sabotage is out of the question. Unintentional mistakes can easily occur, harming your chances of getting hired. So, before you submit another job application, ensure you avoid the following pitfalls:

1. Submit a Carbon-Copy resume

Having all been job seekers at some point, anyone can understand the frustration of having to create a new resume for each job we want. But writing up original content that factors in the specific job position and company you’re applying to is crucial to branding yourself as a candidate.

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If you’re aiming to sabotage your job prospects, go ahead and send out resumes that appear tailored for another company. Submitting these generic, carbon-copy resumes is not only disrespectful to employers genuinely searching for qualified candidates, but it also diminishes your value as a professional. By failing to customize your application, you miss the opportunity to showcase your unique skills and experiences, significantly lowering your chances of landing the job you desire.

2. Come Off as an Arrogant Job Seeker

As a job seeker, confidence is an amazing attribute to bring to the table. Employers love to know that their candidates feel sure of their ability to get the job done if hired. Unfortunately, there can be a fine line between confidence and arrogance—and you don’t want to cross that line.

For instance, if you have had an amazing career as a biochemist, working for one of the leading laboratories in the country for the past 10 years, you have a lot to brag about. But if you come off in your resume, cover letter, or interview as the savior of the company, you could easily turn off the employer who has to deal with your arrogant attitude.

3. Annoy Your Last Employer

While you might have fantasized about dramatically telling off your former boss, it’s crucial to resist that urge, especially since future employers could reach out for references. No matter how cathartic it may feel in the moment to vent your frustrations, burning professional bridges will likely come back to haunt you.

Maintaining a positive relationship with past employers can prove invaluable, as you never know when you might need a good word or a professional favor down the line. Therefore, it’s always best to exit gracefully, ensuring that you leave the door open for future opportunities.

4. Live an Openly Unprofessional Life

Employers meticulously examine all facets of their job candidates, which is a prudent approach. However, making unprofessional errors as an applicant could cost you the job opportunity before you even become a serious contender.

For example, if you’re sending your application through email, avoid using an unprofessional email address like [email protected] for contact information. Opt for an email handle that incorporates your name or another professional identifier. Additionally, if you’ve had moments of indiscretion captured on camera phones, take measures to ensure those images don’t surface online.

5. Lack of knowledge of the company or the position you applied for

Do your homework before your interview.  Research the company and the person conducting the interview.  One very common question is “Why do you want to work here?” – make sure you know the answer.  Know the basics

  • Tell me about yourself – Be prepared with a short, concise overview of who you are and what you do.
  • Why do you want to work for our company? – Assuming for the minute that you would not be interviewing if there was not some interest, do your homework on the company (and the interviewer) before arriving.
  • Why should we hire you? – This is where you go into your prepared pitch on your skills and experience and how they align with both the position and the company.

There are some basic questions that, if not specifically asked, should be communicated by you at some point in the interview.


Navigating the job search landscape can be fraught with pitfalls that can unwittingly derail your efforts. By being aware of these five common mistakes and taking proactive steps to avoid them, you can significantly improve your chances of landing your desired role. Remember, every interaction and touchpoint in the job search process contributes to the impression you make. By investing time and effort in presenting the most professional version of yourself, you not only avoid common blunders but also enhance your marketability, bringing you one step closer to your career goals.

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