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Job Hunting, Job Search Tips, Resumes & Cover Letters

Common Mistakes Jobseekers Make

“I’ve been out of work 2 years and have had no interviews in the last 6 months.”

“No one is hiring in my field.”

“I’ve gotten several interviews in the last couple weeks, but I always seem to come in 2nd.”

Whenever I meet a new jobseeker, the first question I ask them as I walk them back to my cubicle is, “so how is the job search?” These are some of the answers I have received. I feel for the level of frustration and discouragement, especially in this economy, but at the same time I wonder if jobseekers are making it harder on themselves.

Ouch? I’m just saying…

I have done some researching online to find a fair representation of what other career counselors and job search experts have indicated are the biggest jobseeker mistakes they’ve seen, and compared the responses with my own experience as a counselor. Here’s what I have found.

Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

These are not necessarily the most prevalent mistakes, but certainly they are common mistakes that have the potential to greatly affect a jobseeker’s effectiveness.

  1. Not spending enough time in a quality job search

A group discussion on LinkedIn.com recently asked this question: I told a jobseeker that finding a fulltime job IS a fulltime job and they looked at me like I was crazy. Am I? The answer is absolutely not; searching for a fulltime job takes more than just a couple of hours a day if it is to be effective. This includes scouring job boards, targeting resumes and cover letters to specific job announcements, locating and researching targeted companies, updating application profiles, keeping current with networking connections, finding new people to network with, planning for interviews… you get the idea.

One thing to be careful about, however: watch the job search activities you do engage in. Don’t do
something just for the sake of doing something. Applying for every open job an employer may have open, even those you are not qualified for, will only result in a rejection, but might even cause an employer to “blackball” your name from consideration for any of their positions.

  1.  Resumes not targeted or well-written

I regularly screen resumes for minimum qualifications to make job referrals. Rarely do I see a resume that doesn’t have glaring typographical, grammatical or formatting errors. Resume writing is an art in itself. Not many people know the fine art of resume writing simply because they don’t need to. That’s ok—that’s why there are employment counselors like me out there. Access the help of a counselor to review your resume and give tips for improvement.

I also talk to employers and recruiters regularly and ask them what they think many applicants lack in their resumes. They tell me the resumes lack focus. Some resumes appear to have been written for a wide variety of jobs and have no target whatsoever. These resumes are often used as part of a “spray and pray” approach; rarely does this approach get positive results, especially if the job seeker does not follow up on the application with a phone call or even another email.

  1. Employment Goals: too wide, too narrow, or no goals at all

I ask my jobseekers what kind of a job they’re looking for. Sometimes they say they want something like a sales position in an RV dealership, unwilling to consider any other kind of sales.

Other times my jobseekers will say, “Anything.”

A successful jobseeker must have an effective employment goal in mind when making a job search plan. We’ve all heard the story of Alice in Wonderland; when she meets the Cheshire Cat:

The Cheshire Cat from Carroll's Alice in Wonde...

Image via Wikipedia

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where—” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“—So long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

You don’t want that somewhere to be going in circles.

Part of knowing where you want to go is doing your research. What occupation are you interested in? Is that job in demand? Do you have the training? How much will the training cost? Is there a particular employer you’d like to work for? How much do you know about that employer? These answers will help you set your course.

  1. Doing it all yourself

I may be contradicted for making this hasty generalization, but my experience has shown me that most jobseekers would prefer to do it all themselves. There might be a valid reason for this if it is true: when asked about their perceptions as jobseekers, my job club a few months back said the one thing they felt most was some kind of embarrassment or shame for being unemployed. Many of them felt they could not confide in a friend or family member without boring or tiring them, and felt very much on their own.

No one need feel this way. There are still counselors at local employment agencies who can give direction. It is true there are fewer of them doing work for more people and often with fewer resources, but they are still there. Let them help.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


2 thoughts on “Common Mistakes Jobseekers Make

  1. Good post. I think people need remember that “No man is an island” and we don’t work in a vacuum.

    Posted by Linda | November 7, 2011, 2:51 pm
  2. You are very right. Thank you for your input.

    Posted by kimberlyjmyers | November 9, 2011, 9:00 pm

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