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BusINess » Business Workforce » All-too-common mistakes can sink the best job search techniques

All-too-common mistakes can sink the best job search techniques

Last week’s JobsSunday feature focused on what job candidates could do to re-energize and re-focus their attitude through their job search techniques.

This week the focus is on the opposite—what job candidates should make sure they avoid as they look for work.

The phrase “shoot yourself in the foot” didn’t create itself. Although it didn’t originate with job seekers, it might as well have.

Every day, as job candidates look for a job, almost every one of them makes at least one mistake in the process. The worst part is, many of these mistakes are avoidable.

These are some of the most common—and most critical—job search mistakes that experts say can be avoided with a little extra thought and up-front consideration.

1. A non-professional email address. Job candidates can use free email hosts such as gmail.com or aol.com to establish a plain but professional email account that is nondescript.

2. A last check on appearance before an interview. Job candidates who get their foot in the door for an interview need to make sure they look the part. Badly wind-blown hair can make a difference.

3. Pay attention to detail. One mistake, mentioned a number of times by hiring managers, is job candidates who use a cover letter template and forget to change the company name. Cover letters and resumes should always be customized.

4. Real networking is work. Real networking builds mutually beneficial relationships. That can be hard to do in a group setting. Job candidates need to make sure they have a few one-on-one meetings each week.

5. A focus on specific jobs and job types. No job candidate is a fit for every job, or good at everything. A job search will be much more effective if the focus is on exactly the kind of work qualified for.

6. Follow directions. Job candidates need to read the detail on the specific directions provided by the hiring manager. A job description may state not to send a resume, but candidates do it anyway. Many hiring managers drop those candidates because it shows a lack of attention to detail and a failure to follow directions.

7. Do not look past the obvious. Job candidates need to be ready to answer basic interview questions. “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Tell me about yourself.” “Why should we hire you?” Job candidates should be prepared for the obvious.

8. Grammar or spelling errors on a resume or cover letter. Spell-check is not just a good thing—it is a lifesaver. But if a job candidate cannot take the time and effort to make sure all spelling and grammar are perfect, how can they be counted on in a job setting?

9. An interview is a two-way street. Job candidates who do not ask any questions at an interview may be viewed as uninterested in the job or the company. Job candidates need to show interest in both by asking questions at the appropriate time.

10. Do not rely on a single strategy. Job candidates can make the mistake of only searching online, or only search job boards. Candidates need to understand that a broad brush of techniques can lead to more connections and more success.

While many of these mistakes seem common sense, hiring managers see them all too frequently. Job candidates try to respond to numerous applications, and sometimes the shotgun approach can backfire.

Candidates need to take the time to ensure that everything they send out is as professional as possible. The extra work up front to avoid the pratfalls can turn into a financial windfall down the road.

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