The 10 Biggest Job-Search Mistakes

Recognizing and avoiding these common job-hunting pitfalls could mean the difference between a rejection and an offer, says Texas Exes Career Services Director Jennifer Duncan.

10. Neglecting your online image. A recent Career Builder survey found that 84 percent of employers Google job candidates—so untag those boozy Facebook photos, keep your tweets clean, and delete inactive accounts—Myspace, anyone?

9. Not confirming your application’s receipt. Few people check in with a prospective employer to make sure all their materials were received. Unless you get a confirmation, call or email one to two weeks later to make sure. It’s also an opportunity to ask about the timeline of the search.

8. Forgetting to say thank you—to everyone. A little gratitude goes a long way. Ask everyone who interviews you for a card. After your interview, send same-day thank you emails to all interviewers. You’ll appear quick and conscientious. Follow with a handwritten card if you like.

7. Being a “limp fish.” A firm handshake is a simple gesture, but it says a lot about your professionalism. Don’t be afraid to practice your handshake with a friend.

6. Going too narrow. If you’re looking for work as a Japanese translator in rural Kansas, you need to widen your scope to fit the market. Don’t let overly specific demands limit you.

5. Going too broad. Conversely, you shouldn’t apply to every job out there, even if you’re desperate. “Employers want to hire someone who really wants that specific job,” Duncan says. “Be sincere and apply only to jobs that you think could be a strong fit.”

4. Losing hope. You’ve sent out 200 job applications and landed zero offers—it’s natural to feel disappointed. But don’t give up. Reach out to successful recent job-seekers and learn what worked for them. Make sure your expectations are realistic, and don’t be afraid to seek help—for example, by signing up for a Texas Exes Career Services webinar series.

3. Skipping the homework. If you don’t do thorough research on the company, the position, and the industry, you may be doomed. Read as much as you can about the company so you can ask sharp, original questions during the interview. Bring a notepad to the interview, and write down the answers.

2. Not following up. Some job-searchers love meeting dozens of people at events, but they don’t transform the contact into a meaningful relationship. Quality matters more than quantity, so follow up with the people you meet, and don’t focus all of your efforts on events.

1. Ignoring the 80-20 rule. This is the most common problem Duncan sees: searchers get stuck behind the computer screen, sending digital résumés into the void. She preaches the 80-20 rule: spend 80 percent of your time connecting with people offline—say, for one-on-one information sessions—and no more than 20 percent applying online.

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