Common Job Search Mistakes
Common Job Search Mistakes

Andy was disappointed to learn he didn’t get the position he wanted. Have you ever been passed over for a desired job? Do you know why?

Applicants don’t get jobs because they lack required job skills. Poor people chemistry, partisan politics and certain interview behaviors are other reasons. Do you demonstrate behaviors that "turn off" employers? Do you make any of the following mistakes during job interviews:

  • Lack clear job goals
  • Lack accomplishments to support skills claimed
  • Don’t prepare for interviews
  • Excessive interest in financial rewards
  • Lack social poise
  • Make little eye contact
  • Lack communication skills
  • Have poor posture
  • Demonstrate little or no enthusiasm
  • Lack initiative
  • Belittle previous employers
  • Have unrealistic expectations
  • Make excuses for poor work records
  • Ask no or poor questions about the organization and job responsibilities
  • Arrive late for interviews
  • Have a “What can you do for me?” attitude

Effective job search strategies

- Show you’re knowledgeable about the company and its needs. Research the organization and job. Call contacts to get an insider’s perspective. Be conversant with the company’s product and services, and recent developments in the industry. Know how to describe contributions you can make. Identify and contact hiring managers. 

 - Prepare several resumes. Target each one to a specific job.  Demonstrate how your experience, skills and accomplishments fit the job and company.

Prepare a scannable resume. Use dashes instead of bullets. Avoid fancy treatments such as italics, underlining and graphics. Employ key words listed in ads to define your skills, accomplishments and other strengths. Include numbers, dollars and evidence of quality and quantity.

Write your résumé in Microsoft Word. Cut and paste the text of the résumé into the body of the e-mail instead of, or in addition to, sending it as an attachment. (Some recipients fear opening unsolicited attachments). When sending your résumé as an attachment, save it in Rich Text Format (.rtf) instead of as a Word Document to reduce cross-platform compatibility problems.

- Create a career portfolio. This portfolio should demonstrate what you can offer a potential employer, business investor, or new client. Portfolios provide considerably more information than a cover letter and resume alone. Portfolios use words and pictures, as well as an array of multi-media formats.  A portfolio is limited only by one’s imagination.

A portfolio includes work samples that show your qualifications and skills as well as relevant education and volunteer activities. It documents the scope and quality of your experience and training. Your portfolio demonstrates what you’ve accomplished and can offer the employer

In addition to being shared during job interviews, portfolios can be used creatively as employee evaluation instruments. They can be part of business plans, project proposals, or used to market new business ventures. Portfolios can document student learning in educational courses, and demonstrate employee growth and improvement when seeking job advancement.

- Write a short, courteous cover letter.  In three or four paragraphs, identify your job objective, highlight related accomplishments, and indicate how you can benefit the employer. Consider including a portfolio with sample accomplishments, publications or other achievements.

Think about sending an email “teaser” letter with similar content to the regular cover letter. But instead of sending a resume, ask for permission to send it.

- Prepare for interview questions. Practice delivery.  Know the names and titles of all interviewers. Answer questions promptly, offering concrete examples. Show how your skills and accomplishments can do the job. Use success stories to illustrate behaviors.  Emphasize results. Give data indicating positive results you’ve achieved, such as sales increased by fifteen percent over the previous year.

Prepare to answer the following key questions: Tell me about yourself? What are your long-range goals? Why should we hire you? What are your major strengths? Weaknesses? What salary do you expect? How does your previous experience relate to this job? Why do you want this job? Why did you leave your last job?

Turn weaknesses into strengths. If you don’t have a ready response, ask for time to think about it. Don’t respond with one-or two-word answers, interrupt or talk too much. Never discuss salary until you’re offered the job. If pressed, give a range, based on current salary in your field.

- Present a professional demeanor. Wear the team uniform. This shows you belong in the environment. Research the norm for the area, industry and company.  Coordinate pieces. Clothes should be spotless, well-tailored. Hair should be professionally styled, nails well-kept. Avoid strong fragrances.

Radiate energy, enthusiasm, confidence and competence. Be positive, genuine.  A sincere smile displays good will, friendliness. Show interest in the person or project. Keep hands out-of-pockets.  Maintain eye contact with everyone and develop a firm handshake.

- Leave with a favorable impression. If employers like you, they may create a job for you even though you don’t fit the skill set of an advertised position.

Close the interview emphasizing key skills and why you should be hired. Never refuse an offer on the spot. Follow-up each interview or mailed resume with a call. Send thank-you notes to interviewers within 24 hours after interviews.

Don’t take rejection personally. If one job doesn’t materialize, believe you’ll get a better one. Be patient. Maintain optimism, honesty, persist.

Award winning, Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, by Dr. Carole Kanchier, offers additional tips to ace job interviews. and strengthen winning Quester traits:;;