9 Costly (And Avoidable) Newbie Job Search Mistakes

Businessman and banana skin

No one wants to make job search mistakes that will extend the job search, and cause you to miss several paychecks. But, since they don’t exactly teach this stuff in school, you may not be clear on exactly what the big mistakes are… and how to avoid them.

Learn from these 9 mistakes made by job market newbies that postpone that first paycheck, and see if maybe they don’t help shorten your job search:

1. Applying Too Slowly

According to a study of 6,600 hires in 10 industries by StartWire.com:

Of those hired, 27% applied within the first two days after a job was posted. Nearly 50% of the hires were applicants who applied within the 1st week; approximately 75% of all hired candidates applied within three weeks.”

2. Applying for the Wrong Jobs

This is the flip side of not applying quickly enough: many job seekers seem to apply too quickly. They don’t appear to take the time to read more than the job title of the posting. In the long run, this means a waste time and energy applying for jobs they stand no chance of getting in a very competitive job market.

If you don’t meet at least 80% of the job’s requirements move on.

3. Not Leveraging the Benefits of Employee Referrals

According to the annual CareerXRoads’ “Sources of Hire” survey, the number one source of “external” (someone who is not an employee) hires is referral by an employee. Year after year, employee referrals are Number 1.

Many employers have “employee referral programs” which reward employees if someone they recommend is hired. Connecting with people who work for your target employers or in your target industry is a great foot-in-the-door move on your way to being referred in to an employer. Everybody wins with this approach!

4. Failing to Verify Employers and Job Postings

Human predators are as plentiful on the Internet as in real life, perhaps more plentiful because through the Internet they can reach you from all over the world. These predators target job seekers because job seekers are willing to share information that most people are not (location and other contact information, education details). So, verify before you trust with your resume and other personal information.

Be wary of employers you’ve never heard of, and verify the ones you find. A job posting by Google (or any other genuine employer) could be a fake. Even though Google is real, a scammer could be using Google’s name to attract victims. Look for a published business phone number in the location where they claim to have a job ready for you to compare with the contact information included in the job posting. Superpages.com is a good source.

5. Understanding the Difference Between “Buying” and “Selling”

It’s too easy to approach a job search from a WIIFM (What’s IIFor Me) perspective. However, when you are corresponding with an employer, a focus on WIIFT (What’s IIFor THEM) is a more successful approach!

The example, below, is a WIIFM-style “cover letter/email,” a very bad approach:

I saw your job posting on Indeed, and I want to apply for the job. I think that your company would be an interesting place to work. I think it offers me a great future, and would like to live in Phoenix where you are located. I have attached my resume for your consideration.”

Nothing in that paragraph offers a benefit to the employer! Nice as the employer reading that paragraph might be, he or she doesn’t really care what you want. They care what you can do for them. So, look at the opportunity from the employer’s perspective, and sell your qualifications for their job. First, make it clear the job you are applying for so they won’t need to figure it out, and then connect your qualifications with their job’s requirements.

6. Failing to Network Both Online and Offline

While LinkedIn, Twitter, Google Plus, and Facebook can be very helpful for job search, some of the best networking is done face-to-face.

Networking can happen any time at least 2 people are in the same place. I saw 3 people connect with good jobs at a colleague’s wake! So, go to those association meetings, attend those seminars, talk to people in line at the grocery store, etc. You never know who knows about job opportunities that might be right for you.

7. Ignoring Your Online Reputation

Like everyone else, employers use search engines for research, but they are researching job applicants. And if they find something bad, even if it is by or about someone else with the same or a similar name, you are done. So establish a “clean” name, use it in all your job search documents, and practice defensive Googling regularly, even after you have found a job.

8. Putting All Eggs in One Basket

So many job seekers stop their job search when they have what feels like a “hot lead.” They wait for that job offer to come through. They stop looking for opportunities, and they spend a lot of time wondering what is taking so long. And they wait, and they wait.

Your job search should never end until you have a signed offer, a starting date and a starting salary. Keep networking, and keep looking!

9. Not Acting Like the Professional You Want to Be

Being professional during the job search means doing what you’ve committed to do; showing up on time, every time; not using texting or hipster language in communications;  being prepared for job interviews – and so much more.

This is especially true during job interviews. Dress appropriately, know the job and the employer, use good grammar and language, have good questions to ask (NOT about the salary and vacation), and do not answer your phone during the interview (turn it OFF!).

Yes, you will find a job. And in that process, you will make mistakes; its just part of being human. You will also learn from them and not make the same mistakes twice, which can cause a huge, and costly, delay in getting that job offer.

Be smart. Be knowledgeable. Work your way up to a flawless job search. And go get that job!




For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!





About the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been  observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then.  Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org.  Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on .


Image courtesy of campus-to-career.com. Thank you!



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