Classic Job Search Mistakes

Classic Job Search Mistakes

Taunee Besson, CMF, Senior Columnist

Of all the questions I get from people looking for work these days, one tends to stand out from the rest: "What are the biggest mistakes that job seekers make?"

In today's struggling employment market, there's been some fine-tuning in terms of how people look for work, but in truth, the basic job search process has changed very little. Neither have the mistakes people make, whatever their job, level of expertise, age, education or intellect. Like many situations for which there's little available training, employees on a job search often show a mysterious lack of common sense, becoming victims of their own ineptitude.

So what are some of these classic blunders that even seasoned professionals make? What are their consequences, and most importantly, how can you avoid falling into their traps? Here are a few of the screw ups that can stop you from getting a good job in today's economy:

  1. You never figure out what you really want in your career.
    • The skills you enjoy the most.
    • Your most unique knowledge or technical skill.
    • Your best personality traits.
    • The working environment you feel suits you the best.
  2. Consequences:

    The Right Approach

    For a successful job search, you need to know both what you want from your career, and what you have to offer potential employers. In other words, you must develop a benchmark job description. Before you start networking or applying for jobs, think carefully about your personal preferences for the following:

    Once you've identified these elements, combine them into a cohesive paragraph that will also serve as your 2 minute "elevator pitch." This way, when you're deep in your job search, you'll still have the self awareness necessary to help make the right decisions.

  3. You don't do any prior research on a job, company or industry before sending out your resume or going to a job interview.
  4. Consequences:

    The Right Approach

    Learn as much as you can about the company and job you're pursuing by using a combination of research techniques. Google background info on them, read their annual reports and articles about them in trade journals.

    In addition, use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to look up contacts who work for the company you're pursuing, then see if they can connect you with someone better than HR. Of course, it's important to give as well as get information, so make sure you have something to offer fellow networkers. And don't be shy asking for help – remember, people generally like to help, especially if they feel they're giving you special, "inside information."

Senior Columnist Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979 that works with individual and corporate clients in career transition, job search, executive coaching, talent management and small business issues. She is an award-winning columnist for and a best-selling author of the Wall Street Journal's books on resumes and cover letters. Her articles on a variety of career issues have appeared on numerous career/job websites and trade and business journals. Ms. Besson has been quoted numerous times in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money, and a number of other websites and publications.

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