12 Common Mistakes Jobseekers Make In Their Job Search

If you’ve been looking for a new position and haven’t landed yet, it’s worth evaluating your approach to determine what might not be working. Go through this list and see what applies to you. Then, follow the suggestions to learn how to turn things around.

  1. Not Targeting Your Job Search. What kinds of jobs are you interested in? What kind of company do you want to work for? If your answer is, “I don’t care, I just need a job,” your job search is less likely to be successful than if you spend some time thinking about where you want to work, and what you want to do (and how to get there!).
  2. Confusing Activity With Action. Are you confusing “busywork” with progress? Are you spending a lot of time researching jobs online and applying for lots of positions? While it’s recommended that you spend at least an hour a day on your job search if you are currently employed (and two to three times that if you are currently unemployed), make sure you are tracking how much time you are spending, and what you are spending it on. Spend your time on high value tasks — like identifying and researching companies you’d like to work for, and trying to connect directly with hiring managers and recruiters, and having coffee with someone who works for the company you’re applying at — and not just simply spending time in front of your computer.
  3. Paying Too Much Attention To Other People’s Opinions. “You have to do this,” “Never do that.” Everyone’s got an opinion about how to conduct a job search. Some of it is confusing, and some of it is just plain wrong. Your friends and family can be wrong about how the job search works, and it might hurt your chances to get your dream job. Trust your coach or mentor, and trust your instincts. Don’t believe everything you read online, and remember that one person’s opinion is just that — one person’s opinion. For more on this topic, check out What To Do When You Receive Conflicting Career Advice.
  4. Doing The Same Thing Over And Over Again And Expecting Different Results. “I applied for six jobs and haven’t heard anything back.” Well, then something’s not working. Either stop applying for advertised positions, start following up on the applications you’ve already put in, or figure out a different way to connect with your dream job. It’s been said that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different!
  5. Not Paying Attention To What Worked For You Before In Your Job Search. This is the opposite of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This time, we want you to achieve the same result as before — a great job. So look at what worked for you the last time you landed the job you wanted. Were you networking at a professional association meeting? At your child’s basketball game and struck up a conversation with the person next to you? Or did you apply on a company’s website? Consider doing more of what worked for you last time and see if it works for you again.
  6. Forgetting That People Hire People. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the technology in a job search. How to make your resume ATS-friendly (meaning, helping it get through the Applicant Tracking System software that many large companies use). How to use LinkedIn in the job search. Don’t forget that ultimately, people hire people. Connecting to the right person at a company can make the difference between getting hired, and not even getting a response to your application.
  7. Getting Frustrated And Giving Up. The average length of time for a job search has steadily increased over the past few years. In a recent RiseSmart survey, 40 percent of hiring managers report conducting between 3-10 interviews before extending a job offer, and nearly three-quarters of those surveyed said their hiring process is three weeks or longer. So don’t be discouraged if it takes days… or weeks… to hear back after applying or interviewing.
  8. Not Spending Enough Time On Your Job Search. You’ve probably heard it said that looking for a job is a job in itself. That’s partially true. Yes, some people will hear about an opportunity from a friend and get hired (sometimes without even applying). But for the vast majority of jobseekers, you’ll have to invest time in getting your resume prepared, applying for positions, following up, and more.
  9. Spending Too Much Time Online. It’s easy to think that a modern job search can be done entirely online. But it’s estimated that 75 percent of jobs are never advertised — so it’s likely that the job you want can’t be found while you’re sitting at your computer. Get out and talk to people you know, and meet new people!
  10. Not Asking Others For Help. When someone asks you for help in their job search, you willingly offer it (if you’re able), don’t you? So why is it that we’re so reluctant to ask others for their help when we need it? People like to help other people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But make sure you’re asking for the right kind of help. Ask specific questions: “Do you know anyone who works for Company XYZ?” “How did you get your job at Organization ABC?”
  11. Only Applying For Advertised Jobs. Research shows that up to three quarters of job openings are never advertised publicly. Many of these are filled through employee referrals and word of mouth. And sometimes, you can apply to a company for a job that doesn’t even exist yet. Yes, companies do create jobs. Sometimes they will meet a candidate and not have a current opening that would be a match. In that case, they will sometimes create a new position that takes advantage of the candidate’s knowledge and experience.
  12. Networking The Wrong Way. Second only to not using your network at all is using it incorrectly. Your network is comprised of all the people that you know and also all the people that they know. Don’t just think that because you don’t personally know anyone who works for Company ABC that you’re out of luck using your network. Ask the people you know who they know. But remember that networking requires relationship building and relationship management.


About Charlotte Weeks - Executive Career Coach / Executive Resume Writer / Outplacement Consultant

Prior to founding Weeks Career Services, Inc. Charlotte Weeks worked in human resources at a national association, where she experienced the hiring process from the other side. She's also the past president of The National Resume Writers' Association (The NRWA). Charlotte specializes in providing C-level executives (CEO, CFO, CMO, etc.), association executives, executive directors and senior-level professionals (director, VP, SVP, etc.) with comprehensive career coaching services and high-ROI resumes. She is author of "I Want a Job in an Association -- Now What?? A Guide to Getting a Job in a Professional Association, Membership Organization, or Society" and featured author of "101 Great Ways to Enhance Your Career." Additional book contributions include "The Twitter Job Search Guide," "Resumes That Pop!," and "Step-by-Step Cover Letters." As an internationally-recognized expert, Charlotte provides programs and documents tailored to each individual’s needs. To ensure that each person is given the highest quality of attention and service, Charlotte works with a limited number of new clients each month.
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