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7 Fatal Job Search Errors

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We’ve all experienced that “yikes!” moment in a job interview. Some questions we could not answer or worse, giving some stupid answers. How about forgetting information on your own resume? These are the obvious mistakes which we will not soon forget (nor should we). Mistakes like this are always painful and very often they are “fatal” to our job search effort.

But what about the job search mistakes you didn’t make yet? Or, maybe the job search mistakes you don’t know you’ve made?

1. Not knowing anything about the company where you are interviewing

Hopefully, you are not just applying to every job that looks good.  You should be focusing on the companies that are the best fit for your industry and job title (see # 10 below). Whether or not your interview is with a company that is on your job search plan or one that you had not considered, you must do your research on the company.  In addition to getting some feedback on company culture and the environment from your network (see #8 below), you should know as much as you can find out about the company and the interviewer(s).

2.  Not knowing why you are the right person for the job

The hiring manager is trying to hire the best person for the job and if you are not it then you should not be on the interview.  You’ve read the job description and you think you are a great match – be prepared to talk about that in your interview. Before the interview, you should cross-reference your resume to the job description and be prepared to focus on your skills and experience that best match the job description. Think of specific achievements that will demonstrate you are the best person for the job.

3.  Your references give you a bad reference

Sounds crazy? It’s not. You would be surprised how many people give the names of references to hiring managers and then their references don’t give them a good reference. Before adding contacts to your reference list you should have a conversation with them to ensure that they are comfortable giving a reference. No one should be surprised (least of all you) about a reference call. Needless to say, current managers and co-workers should not be on your list of references.

4.  Giving your work business card or your work email address on your resume

A job interview is not a business call, it is a personal career meeting. While the interviewer(s) may give you their business cards, don’t give your business card (unless you own your own business). Additionally, don’t use your work email address on your resume, cover letter, or thank you note. And don’t use your work email to correspond with recruiters and potential employers.

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5.  You’ve not googled yourself (lately or at all)

While you might be very comfortable that there is nothing on any of your social networks that will embarrass you, you never know what might show up on the Internet with your name. Maybe you’ve been tagged in a compromising photo by a “friend”, or maybe you posted some political comment that might not be mainstream. There is also the possibility that someone who has a similar name to yours shows up when a search is done on you.  While there is not much you can do (in the short term) about embarrassing information/pictures on the Internet, being aware of what is out there gives you the advantage of being in front of the issue and addressing it head-on.

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6.  You did not spell check your resume

There is no excuse for having spelling errors on any of your job search documents. While it is sometimes difficult to proofread your own work, not using the spell checker in your word processing software is just a really dumb mistake and may lead recruiters and potential employers to through your resume in the discard pile.  Grammatical are more difficult to spot, but should also be absent from your resume. Ask a trusted friend or family member to read your resume.

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7.  You spend all of your time applying to online jobs

Job search engines can be addicting. While there is definitely a value to using job search engines as part of your job search plan (#10 below), they should not be the only tool you use. They tend to return lots of job openings that either exactly match or closely match your experience. If you haven’t properly filtered your results, there is a very real possibility that a not insignificant number of these “opportunities” do not actually exist or have already met their “quota” of responses (that is a topic for another post).

8.  You don’t leverage your network

Your network is your most important job search tool and should probably make up 30% to 50% of your job search plan. These are the people who know you best – former managers, former co-workers, friends, business acquaintances, etc. Some of thee people will help you find leads and others will help with recommending your applications.  Don’t underestimate the value and power of your network.

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9.  You don’t send a thank-you note

You may think that thank-you notes are “old school”, but they are not.  While a generic thank you note is a waste of time, a targeted thank you note can make all of the difference in you getting to the next round in your interviewprocess. What, exactly, is a “targeted thank you note”? A targeted thank you note is a note that lets the interviewer(s) know that you listened during the interview (by repeating some of what you discussed) and it’s your opportunity to remind the interviewer why you are the best person for the job.

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10.  You don’t have a job search plan

You wouldn’t drive somewhere without knowing how to get there and you shouldn’t start your job search without a job search plan. Your job search plan should include a list of your target companies, your prioritized network (more on this in an upcoming post), recruiters who are focused on your industry, and the overall approach to your job search. A focused job search plan will get you the best results in the shortest period of time.

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