6 Job Search Mistakes You're Probably Making

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: November 12, 2014

Take Some Responsibility

There's no two ways about it -- it's tough out there for jobseekers.

No one is denying things are grim. Job openings have started to increase, but hiring still hasn't picked up enough for anyone's liking. Competition for good jobs remains absolutely fierce, with dozens, or even hundreds, of candidates all vying for a single opening. And far too many companies still rely on automated resume filtering software that values keywords over finding the best talent. So yes, it's tough.

However, jobseekers need to shoulder their share of the blame as well.

It's easy to sit there and blame your lack of a job on the down market and the flawed system that is job search, but don't shirk your responsibility either. Take a good, long, hard look in the mirror and ask yourself if you've done everything you can to get a job. Because far too many people claim they've done everything they can, but really they're just doing the same things over and over again but expecting different results.

If your job search actions are on this list, it's time to shake things up a bit.

6. Failing to Monitor & Maintain Your Online Presence

You're not paranoid, they really are watching you.

When's the last time you plugged your own name into a Google search? If you haven't done it you need to, because the hiring manager either already has or will be doing it soon. Will he find your most prestigious accomplishments and creative professional endeavors, or will a picture of you doing a keg stand last weekend be the first thing that pops up? If your Facebook profile isn't private or "friends only," now might be a good time. Remove any tags of incriminating pictures people have posted. And take a long, hard look at the privacy settings of all the social media accounts you use, and act accordingly.

It's the age of technology and your web presence is every bit the calling card your resume is.

5. Not Disclosing Personal Commitments

The Internet is filled with hiring manager horror stories involving people who got the job, but then lost it because they disclosed some last minute obligation or commitment after receiving the offer.

If you're looking for full-time work and your resume says you can start immediately, then you really need to be able to start immediately. It does no one any good to get through the process of multiple interviews, weeding out other candidates, and coming up with an offer only to hear "Well, I'm actually going to be out of the country for a family commitment later this month and I can't get out of it." Maybe the company will overlook it, but either way you're already starting off in less than stellar fashion.

Just be honest and upfront about things. And if you're not available to start right away, then the company needs to know that. Otherwise it could blow up in your face at the worst time.

4. Downplaying Your Qualifications

"Get confident, stupid!"

This Simpsons quote was said in jest by Troy McClure, but unfortunately it applies to the real world. In several ways, a job interview is like a first date. You're both getting to know each other, and so it only makes sense to put your best foot forward. If a relationship grows out of it then you'll both discover each other's downside and negative traits, but if you only highlight the bad stuff early on you'll probably never get to that point.

Just as romantic partners value confidence, hiring managers do as well. They want to feel assured that if you're hired, you're competent enough to do the job correctly. So project that confidence by highlighting your skills and positive attributes.

3. Jumping Into Black Holes

Find job opening online, send resume and cover letter, wait, get discouraged, give up. Repeat.

If that's your idea of searching for a job, you've got a big problem. For whatever reason, your resume is getting lost in the black hole of the hiring process. It's going to the same place as all the other resumes that likely say similar things, and all you're doing is repeating the same failed attempts over and over again while somehow expecting a different result. That, my friends, is the definition of insanity. And it's almost certainly not going to end with you employed.

You know what gets attention? Individuality. If you can find a way to be memorable and stick out (in a good way), it does wonders for your hiring chances. So while it definitely takes more effort, do your best to find the names and email addresses of the people in charge of hiring, or the people with whom you'll be working. Even if it's not the right person, hopefully they can guide you to the correct contact. What does this show? Initiative. A willingness to go above and beyond what's required of you, and the ability to operate outside of the box.

2. Not Doing Your Due Diligence

Simply put, you should already know about the company before your job interview.

When the hiring manager inevitably asks you if you're familiar with the company, it's not because he/she wants to take this opportunity to fill you in and educate you. The question is asked to quickly gauge how prepared you are and how much prior research you've done. Because if you're excited about the job and truly want it, you'll have researched the company's history. You will check to see what headlines the business has made recently. You'll know about big initiatives underway and proceed to tell them how you fit in and how you can help.

You don't need to know EVERYTHING and no one will expect you to, but you should know enough to appear proactive and genuinely interested. If you need things explained to you at the interview that you should already know, you've lost.

1. Not Personalizing Your Resume & Cover Letters

No two companies are the same, so why are you sending the same exact resume and cover letter wherever you apply?

If you're expecting a company to make a significant investment in hiring you, it's only fair you invest some time and energy into examining the company culture and adjusting your resume accordingly. For instance, if you're applying to an old school, conservative company then you might leave your resume a little more buzzword heavy than normal, and stress the traditional talking points. But if you're applying to a startup or a business with a quirky culture, you need to take that into account. Use more conversational language and let some personality shine through. If they're looking for individuals then doing what everyone else has always done is the kiss of death. If you want to be noticed you have to stand out, both in person and via your resume and cover letter.

It also never hurts to throw some facts about the company in there as well. So, for instance, when you're listing your experience, put a line in there about how that dovetails nicely with the new project currently underway. It's the little things.

Once You Get the Job, Negotiate!

Getting through the job search process is one thing, but even after you get the job offer your job isn't done. Negotiating salary is a tough but necessary task, and Salary.com can help you get paid fairly what you do.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.