Five Mistakes That Can Derail Your Job Search
By: Ruth Anderson
No matter how much time and energy you invest in job seeking, critical
mistakes can derail your efforts. Consider the following job search
scenario. Each of the mistakes described below can put your job search off
track, but all are easy to avoid.
Mistake #1: Starting with a Handicap
Your job search is underway. Time to get out your resume, dust it off, and
add your most recent experience. Right?
Wrong. A strong job search starts with strategizing, and a strong resume
should be the vehicle to put your strategy into action. It isn't enough to
dust off an old resume you need a revised resume that is tailored to a
specific position and a specific employer.
Ask yourself. What are the top needs and preferences of this employer? How
can you address the employer's needs with specific information about your
experience, strengths, and accomplishments? And how can you structure your
resume to convey this key information in a quick, 30-second scan?
To avoid mistake #1, assume that your resume is much more than a personal
history that simply needs a little updating. Start with a strategy, and
rewrite your resume so that it speaks directly to the interests and
concerns of the employer who will read it.
Mistake #2: Sending Less-Than-Your-Best
Your resume is done, and you've written a cover letter to accompany
it. Now you're ready to drop both in the mail in response to a job ad that
especially interests you. Right?
Wrong. Have you first made very sure that you're not sending out less than
your best? Many job seekers fail to realize that both the resume and the
cover letter are seen as examples of the quality of their work.
This means that all aspects of overall quality are important including
spelling, grammar, visual layout, organization, and clarity of
writing. Errors will stand out like a flashing red light, and anything
that makes the resume and cover letter difficult to follow may cause them
to be tossed aside.
To avoid mistake #2, follow this rule of thumb: Have at least two other
people read both your resume and cover letter before you send them
out. Tell them your job-search strategy so that they know what you want to
communicate to the employer.
Mistake #3: Cyber-Regrets
The employer has called for an interview! In addition, he's asked that you
e-mail a copy of your resume to another person in the company. That's easy
a quick note with a Word attachment. Right?
Wrong. A casual approach to the computer world can lead to embarrassing
mistakes. Regrettably, e-mails usually can't be called back after clicking
on the "send" button.
As before, avoid mistake #3 by treating any letter as both an opportunity
to convey your qualifications and a sample of your writing. Avoid common
e-mail shorthand and short, terse paragraphs the former can come across
as "unprofessional" and the latter as impersonal.
Finally, to be on the safe side, print out your e-mail and attachment to
make sure that all looks well in hard copy. Then send the e-mail to at
least one other person, and ask them to review both its content and appearance.
Mistake #4: The Missed Opportunity
You've prepared for your interview and thought over all the answers you may
have to supply. There's not much more you can do. Right?
Wrong. Chances are that at some point in the interview the employer will
turn the tables and say: "Do you have any questions?" If you respond by
saying "no" or by turning to practical details ("What is your benefits
package?"), this will be a missed opportunity.
To avoid mistake #4, think of several questions beforehand questions that
speak directly to the responsibilities and challenges of the job
itself. Employers want to know how you think and what you would be like to
work with; your questions are an opportunity to show that you can take on
the challenges of the job in a constructive way.
Mistake #5: Letting the Ball Drop
You had a strong interview, and you're waiting to hear whether you got the
job. At least now you can take a breather while you wait. Right?
Wrong. Until you have a job offer, assume that it's up to you to keep the
ball in the air. First and foremost, send a thank-you letter to each
person who interviewed you, making reference to one or more things that
Second, follow up at regular Intervals to indicate your continued interest
and keep your prospects alive. It's tempting to hang back so that you
"won't be a bother" but the job seeker who lets the ball drop may lose
out to the one who is politely and persistently enthusiastic.
© 2005 Ruth Anderson
About the author:
Ruth Anderson is the owner of Vantage Point Coaching & Consulting and
author of WRITE RESUMES WITH CONFIDENCE: How to Create Outstanding Resumes and Have the Confidence to Use Them with Success. Learn more about her products and services, including the unique INTRODUCTION TO COACHING and JOB SEARCH TUNE-UP programs, at http://www.vantagepointcoaching.com or