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11 job search mistakes that can kill your chances

Sharon Florentine | Nov. 26, 2014
Even the most savvy job seekers can fall prey to a fatal error or two that can cost them their dream job. Our experts identify the top 10 mistakes and offer advice on how to avoid making them.

Mistake #4: Ineffective Networking
"Networking should be the primary focus of every job search," says Myers. "The best networkers are listeners rather than talkers, have a clear agenda, and are not shy about asking for feedback and guidance. To network successfully, it's best to remember that networking is a "long game" that may evolve slowly, but that can pay off over time. It's best to have a structured, professional approach that you can easily track and that will keep you accountable, says Jayne Mattson, senior vice president of Client Services at Keystone Associates.

"Every month, set a goal for yourself of reaching out to three people. It doesn't have to be in person; it could be sending a short note via LinkedIn or via email to catch up and see how they're doing. Or, if you can schedule a face-to-face interaction, invite your connection to lunch and spend the time updating each other on what's happening both at work and personally," says Mattson.

Mistake #5: Leaving Yourself Open to Many Kinds of Jobs
While you do need to remain open to opportunities rather than specific job openings, it's important not to cast too wide a net, says Myers. "Another key to a successful job search is to focus on finding the right opportunity -- not 'just any job. Before you even start your search, be absolutely clear on exactly the type of position you want, rather than focusing on one specific job role, and then spend all your efforts pursuing that sort of opportunity," says Myers.

Mistake #6: Being Unplanned in Your Search
Finding a job or changing careers is a job in itself and should be approached systematically. Myers suggests coming up with a well-thought-out methodology, allocating time to daily introspection and planning, setting aside dedicated space in your home for searching, applying for and tracking the results of your search. You should also have a system set up to make sure you're holding yourself accountable - applying for a certain amount of positions each day, making networking connections, reworking resumes and the like.

Mistake #7: Doing It Alone
Don't discount the expertise of career coaches, resume writers and job search experts, says Myers. "Career coaches and other job search professionals provide objective guidance, help you think 'outside the box,' and provide a proven system for job search success. Many offer excellent advice on salary negotiations -- often resulting in a salary that far exceeds the job seeker's expectations. There are many kinds of career support, at various levels of investment. By all means, do get help in the search," says Myers.

Mistake #8: Letting Others Control Your Job Search
While working with a career coach, resume expert or job search professional can be helpful, make sure you, as the job seeker, are always in control. Myers suggests working with only a small selection of professional recruiters that you've vetted yourself to make sure they are aligned with your values and your job search goals -- they can serve an important role in your search, he says, but you'll need to maintain control over the whole process. For example, don't let recruiters alter your resume without your permission, and make sure you approve before allowing them to approach companies and opportunities on your behalf.


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