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December 08, 2014

11 Job Search Mistakes That Can Kill Your Chances

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11 Job Search Mistakes To Avoid

By Sharon Florentine, Writer for Covering IT Careers

"It is easy for even the savviest of job seekers to make mistakes. By learning how to navigate potential pitfalls from the outset, your job search will be more productive and yield more positive results," says Ford R. Myers, career coach, speaker and author of "Get The Job You Want, Even When No One's Hiring.

Here are the top 11 mistakes job seekers make and our experts' tips on how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Responding Only to Online Job Postings
In general, you should be spending only a small percentage of your valuable time responding to online job postings. It's recommended to use online job search engines and job tools to help organize your job search strategy and save time. Instead, devote the bulk of your efforts on productive networking activities.

Mistake #2: Sending Unsolicited Resumes
Unsolicited resumes are considered garbage, scrap paper and wasted effort, according to Myers. Your resume is likely to get rejected by a business' Applicant Tracking System (ATS) unless it's specifically formatted and targeted to an open position. If you're blindly sending resumes, it's hard to get a response, and you've expended valuable energy that would be better used on networking or other activities.

Mistake #3: Looking Only for Job Openings
More than 40% of positions are created for the applicant, often during an on-site interview; these positions didn't exist before the right candidate appeared. The key is to shift your focus from "openings" to "opportunities," which exist nearly everywhere.

Mistake #4: Ineffective Networking
"Networking should be the primary focus of every job search," says Myers. The best networkers are listeners rather than talkers, have a clear agenda, and are not shy about asking for feedback and guidance. To network successfully, it's best to remember that networking is a "long game" that may evolve slowly, but that can pay off over time. It's best to have a structured, professional approach that you can easily track and that will keep you accountable.

Mistake #5: Casting Too Wide a Net
While you do need to remain open to opportunities rather than specific job openings, it's important not to cast too wide a net, says Myers. "Another key to a successful job search is to focus on finding the right opportunity -- not just any job. Before you even start your search, be absolutely clear on exactly the type of position you want, rather than focusing on one specific job role, and then spend all your efforts pursuing that sort of opportunity."

Mistake #6: Being Unplanned in Your Search
Finding a job or changing careers is a job in itself and should be approached systematically. Myers suggests coming up with a well-thought-out methodology, allocating time to daily introspection and planning, setting aside dedicated space in your home for searching, applying for and tracking the results of your search. You should also have a system set up to make sure you're holding yourself accountable - applying for a certain amount of positions each day, making networking connections, reworking resumes and the like.

Mistake #7: Doing It Alone
Don't discount the expertise of career coaches, resume writers and job search experts, says Myers. "Career coaches and other job search professionals provide objective guidance, help you think outside the box, and provide a proven system for job search success. Many offer excellent advice on salary negotiations -- often resulting in a salary that far exceeds the job seeker's expectations. There are many kinds of career support, at various levels of investment. By all means, do get help in the search."

Mistake #8: Letting Others Control Your Job Search
While working with a career coach, resume expert or job search professional can be helpful, make sure you, as the job seeker, are always in control. Myers suggests working with only a small selection of professional recruiters that you've vetted yourself to make sure they are aligned with your values and your job search goals -- they can serve an important role in your search, he says, but you'll need to maintain control over the whole process. For example, don't let recruiters alter your resume without your permission, and make sure you approve before allowing them to approach companies and opportunities on your behalf.

Mistake #9: Not Preparing Well Enough for Interviews
Job interviews are comprised of five basic elements: articulating your value, conveying your knowledge of the company, asking intelligent questions, negotiating compensation and following up. Be sure to do extensive research on the company and the interviewer beforehand, as that can be one of the best ways to ensure you're the top candidate for the position. When you're interviewing for that dream job, you need to be genuinely interested in the company and the interviewer.

Mistake #10: Not Knowing Your Market Value
You must research and assess your value in the marketplace before you attend a single interview otherwise your negotiating without understanding the data. "The time to talk money is when the employer has made it clear that you are their top candidate, and after they make an offer and knowing what your skills, knowledge and experience are worth can make negotiating less painful, " says Myers.

Mistake #11: Not Asking for the Job
One of the biggest flubs job seekers make is in not asking for job. As much as you may think you've nailed an interview and that an offer is forthcoming, you need to assuage any lingering doubt in a hiring manager's mind. The last thing you need to do after an interview is stand up, shake your interviewer's hand firmly and state, "Thank you so much for your time. I really want this job." You must make that clear and firm, and oftentimes that has made the difference for my clients.

Sharon Florentine is a staff writer for CIO covering IT careers and data center topics. For the last five years, Sharon worked as a freelance writer and project manager for technology vendors such as Microsoft, Fujitsu and Juniper Networks. She has also written for ChannelPro SMB magazine, CRN and TheLadders among others. Previously, Sharon worked as a staff writer for eWEEK and Channel Insider. Follow Sharon on Twitter @MyShar0na.

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