Career Search Mistakes:
Are you sabotaging your job search?

by Greg Faherty, CPRW
Is your job hunt taking longer than you'd anticipated? Are you getting fewer interviews or job offers than you'd like, or maybe none at all? Are you sending resumes but getting zero responses?

If the answer to any or all of the above questions is "yes," you might be sabotaging your own job search.

Many job hunters unknowingly make mistakes while searching for employment, but unlike other areas of life—jobs, school, home—there's no one around to provide feedback about what they're doing right or wrong. According to a survey of local recruiters, human resource representatives, and managers, here is a list of the top job search killers.

1. No contact information on your resume.  Many people today are afraid of identity theft, so they omit contact information from the resume. I see this all the time as a resume evaluator and writer. However, no matter how good your resume is, it won't work if someone can't get in touch with you.

2. You flunked the interview.  There are many reasons for this. You weren't prepared. You were nervous. You showed up late. You didn't convey your information effectively. The good news is, all these problems can be avoided by using an interview coach and by practicing your interview technique.

3. Negativity.  Whether it's on your resume or during your interviews, if you're saying negative things about previous employers, you're ruining your chances of being hired. Remember the old saying: "If you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all."

4. Job hopping and empty space.  If you've had a lot of short-term jobs in a row, or you have multiple gaps in your employment, you're going to make a potential employer wonder why you can't hold a job. One solution is to not include all your short-term jobs on the resume. You can also use your cover letter to explain gaps.

5. Laziness.  This can crop up throughout the job search process. A poorly prepared resume, turning in an incomplete application, not being prepared during the interview—these are all signs of laziness. Prospective employers are going to ask themselves, "If this person can't be bothered to put forth a good effort in finding a job, what makes me think they'll be a hard worker if I hire them?"

6. Lack of goals.  One of the key questions you'll be asked during an interview is what your short and long-term goals are. ("Where do you see yourself in three and five years?") Have strong answers ready for these questions. Employers want people with ambition and well-defined career plans."

7. You're unwilling to change.  In today's employment climate a person needs to be adaptable, whether that means taking on new responsibilities or forging a new career path. Employers need people who can work outside of their job descriptions. Be prepared to show you can be that kind of person.

Factors for Success

  • Have a professional look over your resume and cover letter, and fix them if necessary.
  • Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice interviewing, the more at ease you'll be during the real thing.
  • Stay positive. Not only will you feel better, you'll make a better impression, too.