Top 5 Mistakes Job Seekers Make During Their Search

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

When your job search never seems to turn up any solid leads, it doesn't mean there aren't any good jobs available. From your resume to your interview decorum, every choice you make can help or hinder your chances of landing a great position. Successful job hunting is all about using smart strategies to promote your skills and get in contact with hiring managers. Avoid these five critical mistakes to keep your job search on track.

1. Cookie-Cutter Resumes

A job search is a competition. How can you distinguish yourself as the best candidate if your first impression is a stock resume? Resume writing is a headache-inducing experience for many people, so you might think a template is the smartest way to create a professional presentation. As long as your resume gets the point across, what's the harm?

Ditch the template, and organize your resume to show the most compelling information first. It doesn't make sense to lead with your education or objective if you have years of relevant professional experience. Resumes should paint a picture of your unique skills, personality and career progression to hook hiring managers within seconds.

2. Dull Cover Letters

If you think it's clever to keep reusing the same cover letter, think again. Hiring managers can tell you're using a standard cover letter without tailoring it to the company and position. Don't waste this space rehashing everything in your resume or stringing together empty buzzwords. Think of your cover letter as an elevator pitch and use it to make a quick introduction that shows your potential value to employers.

3. Poor Preparation for Phone Screenings

Phone interviews are becoming more common as employers look for ways to streamline the hiring process. Don't expect to get callbacks if you come across as casual, aloof or ignorant in phone screenings.

Since you never know when recruiters might call, it's crucial to be ready at all times. Prepare talking points, so you can easily answer common questions and share interesting stories about your past accomplishments. Phone interviews are a chance to show competence and personality early on. Smile during phone calls to get in a confident, friendly mood, and use these conversations to make a connection with the interviewer.

4. LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn lets you provide strong examples of your qualifications. Hiring managers have the tough job of wading through false and inflated claims to find genuine candidates. With LinkedIn, you can showcase skill endorsements from colleagues, provide links to portfolio samples and offer proof of your time with past employers. Recruiters frequently use these sites to conduct keyword searches for candidates. If your LinkedIn profile is bland or empty, you're missing the opportunity to attract inbound leads and ultimately speed up your job search.

5. Fear of Networking

Networking is often the most efficient way to succeed in a job search. Instead of shying away from networking altogether, find a method that fits your personality. If you're uncomfortable introducing yourself to people at big events, use a one-on-one method, such as LinkedIn messaging. When possible, ask friends, families or colleagues to introduce you to contacts from other companies.

Try different strategies to make your job search more productive. Keeping track of your efforts can help you achieve better and better results. What job search mistakes have you overcome?

Photo courtesy of Bruno Cordioli at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Darlene Barta thanks for your comment. Wasn't being harsh with Hilda - just honest. I, too, am a baby boomer and I know, firsthand, how tough it is to get a job past the age of 50. I agree that we are working longer now than ever. I would have liked to retire at 66 but will probably just continue working. But @Darlene - the truth is that age is a huge factor. A company won't admit that it's your age that kept you from the interview or from that job. But you know that they look at the resume and can pretty much figure out how old we are just based on our work experience or education. It's hard to hide your age and age is definitely a deterrent. So wasn't trying to be harsh at all - just keeping it real. How about you? Are you making any of these mistakes?

  • Darlene Barta
    Darlene Barta

    I found it rather harsh what you told HILDA KISH" Sadly, though, age is going to be a factor." Age has nothing to do with how well a candidate can do his/her job. For you see we who are BabyBoomers will be working up until we are 75Years old,, we are not going away. From what I am seeing in the workforce: Millennium and Gen Z need to except the fact Baby Boomers are going to remain in the market until we all reach at least age 75. so someone help: HILDA KISH get a job!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Janine H thanks for your comment and so sorry for your situation. Have you considered being an online teacher? My niece did it for several years and loved it. You work from home. Check out some of the charter schools to see if you would qualify. You may have to take some type of refresher course since it's been 6 years. Unfortunately it's the 6 year gap that is hurting you. Have you found a recruiter who specializes in education? That might be another option for you. Let the recruiter work for you. Check with your college's career services office. They may be able to help you, also. You are an alum and the services are available to you. Many times the colleges get job postings that are not put out in the public realm. All you can do is keep trying. We wish you all the best.

  • Janine H.
    Janine H.

    I'm a teacher. I too have had minimal difficulty landing phone screeners or initial interviews, but seldom move on in the process for the jobs I actually want (I get random offers from out of state for which I've never even applied often)! I feel Hilda's pain of 5 months, but this has been going on for almost 6 years for me! My resume has been professionally rewritten. All my cover letters are written for that application. I have been seeking employment outside of education as well, but with no full-time experience and being almost 30, it's incredibly difficult to compete with those with less education (I have a Masters), fresh skills and previous verifiable work experience. I also find it difficult working per diem to keep references up-to-date; all of mine expire this August, but no one will write one for someone they haven't seen their work and as a sub, you're a fill-in; the teacher doesn't see you and the principal is busy with regular staff.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Margarita T thanks for your comment. Yes, so true. You should always be searching on your own - even if you are using a Recruiter. Never limit yourself to just one means of finding a job. Sometimes, though, a recruiter is the best choice since they are able to present you to the client first. Some people are just not good at presenting themselves, In addition, for more mature workers, it sometimes pays to have a recruiter pave the way. But, yes - always be looking on your own.

  • Margarita. T.
    Margarita. T.

    Recruiters are definitely a good source but I wouldn't limit myself to their openings. I still have to search myself for a position I'm interested in.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Hilda Kish thanks for your comment. Sorry you are going through this. Have you tried to just narrow things down under one recruiter? Let the Recruiter work for you. Let him/her find you a great position that you may not be able to find on your own. Sadly, though, age is going to be a factor. Hard to hide it when they ask when you graduated from HS! That is why it might be better to just find a good recruiter in your area of expertise and let them take the ball and run.


    I have no problem getting interviews and phone interviews with my resume and my salesmanship, however I do not get the job offer. I am searching for 5 months like this, I am getting frustrated. I apply to jobs advertised by Employment agencies and companies. I get lots of phone calls daily mostly from inexperienced job counslors/sales people and demanding HR people from companies. I am 65, but look 10 years younger and worked at prestious corporations. I would like to work in the administrative field 5 more years. Any suggestions?

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