10 Common Job Search Mistakes

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What Job Search Mistakes Are You Making?

job search mistakes

These 10 job search mistakes often cause job seekers to miss out on opportunities for work that they want. 

One woman’s story: Could this be you?

Today I had a phone call from a past client, a lovely capable woman who is currently unemployed.  She left her job because of serious bullying issues that management refused to address.  Rather than “make a fuss” she chose to leave a workplace that she found stressful and unhappy.

Her dream is modest. She wants a job that enables her to prove her worth.  Ideally she’d like to be given further opportunities for responsibility and some training.  She is keen to grow in skills and confidence and to add value to the company.

Unable to find work

She knows what she would love to do but is unable to find work opportunities that lead towards that role.  Her dreams are not unrealistic.  She is prepared to work below her level of experience to get a foot in the door.

However her work history does not show a steady commitment to a couple of companies.  On the contrary she has changed jobs quite a lot, a combination of personal circumstances and leaving work when she found she was unhappy.  Yet this woman isn’t a quitter.  She is determined that she will find the work that suits her, that she suits, and where she can give great value.

Many people are in this situation

This is not an unusual situation.  There are many people, hidden from the jobless figures, who are unemployed or underemployed but don’t want to be in this situation.

It is quite common that they blame circumstances, rather  They are unaware that their own job search mistakes are getting in the way of their success.

What were the classic mistakes she was making?

I have analysed her situation, her resume and cover letter, and observed the following 10 classic mistakes being made.  Many of them are issues of what to include in a resume to give yourself the best possible chance of getting the job you want.  I hope they are helpful to you too.


Common Job Search Mistakes

Job Search Mistake 1: Resume Objective

A resume should commence with a summary of what you have achieved, not your objective in applying for work.  Frankly the company doesn’t care what you want.  They want to know if you can deliver what they need and want in the position you are applying for.  

Job Search Mistake 2: Not Adapting Resume For Each Application

In this client’s case she has created a great list of her skills, which immediately gives strength to her resume. However she wasn’t adapting this list to meet the requirements of each job for which she is applying.

Job Search Mistake 3: Not Focusing On Achievements

When only duties are listed for each job, a resume seems one dimensional.  It conveys no sense that the work has been carried out to the best of your ability. 

Perhaps you feel you were only a tiny cog in the wheel at your workplace. Maybe you didn’t get the opportunity to achieve much.  But there would be things that you did there that no-one else did or that no-one else had thought of doing.  Whenever possible put a couple of achievements for each job.  

Job Search Mistake 4:  An Unstable Work History

If you have changed work many times address that in your summary and in your cover letter.  “Adaptability and the skill to quickly develop rapport within teams has developed from 20+ years experience in health and environment related businesses throughout Australia……”  They know up-front that you have moved around.  However you have implied that this has some advantages that make you a better employee. A random work history can give the impression of unreliability unless it is justified.  Allowing them to get the wrong impression is a job search mistake.

Job Search Mistake 5: Going Back Too Far

If you have been working for around 20 years or more you have a lot to share in your resume.  The sad truth is they don’t want to know about it all! Most potential employers only want to know about the last 10 or so years in detail, with the briefest of outline of previous work. Including too much information and detail is a common job search mistake.

Job Search Mistake 6: Unattractive Resume Layout

Make your resume look attractive, classy and professional.  Consider how you can divide the different sections using lines or different styled headers. Get inspiration from professional resume examples online.  This is where I must mention spelling and punctuation which must be flawless in a job application.

Don’t ever use a “pretty” online template

Don’t ever be tempted to use one of the bright colourful Word templates to create your resume.  That screams “Year 9 double period resume class with a teacher who doesn’t know much about resumes”!

Job Search Mistake 7: Not addressing the correct person in the cover letter

Whenever possible you should address your letter directly to the correct person.  Sometimes this is as simple as finding their name on the job description.  Telephone the company and ask to be told to whom you should address your application.    However if you cannot find out the name of the person then use their title correctly and respectfully.

Job Search Mistake 8: Not using your network

The client I mentioned had a limited local network and so had no-one to reach out to  who may be able to help her. People in your network may have information about who is employing or inside knowledge of the local industry. Ask them.

You network is where you are most likely to get help

Reach out to your existing network and or miss out on the potential help that could come from them.

LinkedIn is another wonderful way of using your network to find out about job opportunities and to make connections with people who may be able to help you.

Job Search Mistake 9: Not believing in yourself

You can break the habit of not believing in yourself. It is an ingrained habit that has been allowed to grow and take over your view of the world.  Only you can change this serious job search mistake.  No amount of praise will make any difference to you until you decide that you can accept and value yourself.

Job Search Mistake 10:  Not getting professional assistance

So often I see clients who battled on for a long time trying to get a job without success.  They have never considered that they might be causing the problem themselves through their job search mistakes.  They believe that it is the current job market, age discrimination, the attitude of younger people, their work history. These are all perfectly valid obstacles in an unsuccessful job search, but aren’t always the reason.  Until they remedy their job search mistakes, they keep on trying, doing the same things. This often leads to depression about their prospects for the future.  By eliminating these job search mistakes their results could be very different.

Professional help can make a big difference

Often it takes a meeting with a trained career professional, or professionally designed program, to realise what is really going on.  It may be a combination of the common job search mistakes that I have outlined here. It may be another problem altogether.  But it is usually something that you haven’t recognised yourself.  

Value yourself enough to get some professional career management support or, for exceptional value, join our Career Renovation program

Review your job search strategies

After reading through these 10 common job search mistakes I hope that you will review your own job search strategies.

Article source:  This article was originally published in full in our sister-site BoomersNextStep.

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