Avoid These 10 Common Job Search Mistakes

The Prepped Team

July 12, 2021

5 minutes

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We get it. You want to do everything you can to land that dream job. We know how difficult job hunting can be and so you’ll do whatever it takes to stand out from your peers. But slow down just a little and analyze whether the steps you’re taking are helping or hurting your chances.. 

The truth is that you may think your job search tips are putting you ahead of the pack, but are actually wasting your time. You want to direct your energy into strategies that get results. If you aren’t aware of what those strategies are, you’re missing out on opportunities to improve your chances of getting hired. 

That’s why we’re here. Our goal is to make you aware of the mistakes in your job search. Some of these may sound simple, but trust us when we say they can be the difference between getting a callback or dealing with the disappointment of another rejection. 

Top 10 job search mistakes 

While you’re prepping to put yourself out there and land that first job (Or dream job! We believe in you), here are 10 job search mistakes you can avoid. 

1. Starting your job search without a defined strategy 

Carry this point with you throughout your entire career. Everything starts with a plan. If your goal is to land a “XYZ” job, that’s going to take some real strategizing. Ask yourself: which companies are you planning to contact, who are you going to network with, and where are you looking for these jobs? A defined strategy keeps you on track and accountable. Once you lay out your plan, you have a road map you can follow. . 

2. Having errors on your resume or cover letter 

With free spell check software like Grammarly or even remembering to run a spell check on within Microsoft Word or Google Docs, this really should never happen. Read and reread your resume and cover letter over again before sending it. If you have access to a printer, print off your documents and read a paper copy—it’s easier to catch spelling mistakes or grammatical errors that way. Get someone else to proofread it, too. Errors are an immediate turn off for employers because it suggests you didn’t put in the effort it takes to get it right. That’s not the impression you want to start off with. 

3. Only applying for job postings 

Here’s something you should know: An estimated 70% of jobs don’t make it to job boards. That’s a lot of opportunities you’re missing out on if you’re relying strictly on job boards for open positions. Instead, engage with your network to figure out what positions are vacant or are coming up and what you need to do to apply. Job boards are great, but they shouldn’t be the only place you look to when searching for your next job. 

4. Not networking 

This is a big one. We just highlighted that most open positions aren’t even posted. That’s one of the major reasons you’ll need to be networking like a pro. Your network opens doors you didn’t even know existed and can give you the insight needed to make an impression. They can also recommend you for positions that help you bypass formal application processes and get you in front of hiring managers. Networking needs to be a major part of your defined strategy. Who you network with, where you network, and how you network are all vital to helping you land a job.

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5. Not adapting your resume to the job description 

It’s always surprising how many people reuse the exact same resume for multiple job applications. If that’s you, stop right now. Every job is different, however slightly, which means every resume should be different, however slightly. You always want to be speaking precisely to the job description and relating your resume to its content. You risk your resume appearing too broad if you don’t cater it to the description of the job posting. An employer should be able to recognize that your skills and experience fit the role and their company. 

6. Not doing your research before a networking chat or an interview 

This is a pet peeve for many mentors and people in positions of influence. It’s expected that you’ve thoroughly researched the individual you hope to network with. It’s a waste of their time going into a meeting and asking questions that could have been answered with a Google search. Researching can also give you insight and instructions on how these individuals like to be communicated with. Once you get into a meeting, the questions you ask and conversations you start should all be specific to your situation—whether that’s a coffee chat or a formal interview.   

7. Not preparing your elevator pitch

You have to be prepared for everything. You may connect with a potential mentor who wants to know why they should work with you. You may be introduced to a hiring manager who asks you the same question. The point is that you always need a summary of who you are, your skills, and what makes you ideal for the position you’re seeking. Crafting an elevator pitch also helps you prioritize the most important aspects of your resume. Practice your elevator pitch regularly and remember to adjust it as you gain more experience. 

8. Not preparing your answers to behavioural questions for an interview 

Behavioural questions are questions in an interview meant to determine how you’ve behaved in past instances. For instance, “How did you handle a tight deadline?” or “How did you resolve a disagreement with a coworker?” are examples of behavioural questions. You need to be ready to answer this line of questioning the same way you prepare to answer questions about your work experience. Employers want to know if you’re a fit for their environment and asking behavioural questions is one way to decide that. 

9. Not asking questions in an interview 

An interview should be a two-way conversation. Yes, you’re expected to be prepared to answer any question an employer throws at you. That said, not preparing questions to ask in an interview means you’re not considering your role in the meeting. You need to determine if you’re a fit for the position and the company. No matter how badly you want a job, if you don’t do your due diligence, you risk entering into a situation that doesn’t match your goals or isn’t in line with your values.  

10. Forgetting to send thank-you notes 

It’s all in the follow-through. It may sound like a sports analogy, but following up after an interview does two things: First, it refreshes the employer’s memory of your interview. This keeps you top of mind. Second, you can add context or give a little more info to a question you didn’t feel you answered well. Also, follow-ups should also be done with your network. They’re giving up their time to help elevate your position so sending a thank you note can go a long way. Learn more about our email and message templates.

Prepped helps you get hired 

Our entire mission at Prepped is to help you get your first job, next job, or dream job. We offer resources to help build your resume and improve your interview skills, along with producing webinars hosted by experts in their respective fields. The information we provide is meant to prepare you for the next step in your career.