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What Is the Biggest Mistake Made By Job Seekers

What is the biggest mistakes job seekers make? Miriam Salpeter (@Keppie_Careers) and I decided to ask this question of our colleagues in the job search world and they didn’t hold back! You’ll find two major themes in the answers provided in this post: Job seekers say the wrong things and they come across as lacking focus and a plan. You will find answers from career coaches, resume writers, recruiters and HR professionals, who all want to help make your job search easier!

The response we got was more than we could have hoped for or expected so you are in luck…both Miriam (Keppie Careers) and I are both running unique posts today and tomorrow with the answers to the question “What are the biggest mistakes you see job seekers make?” My hope is that you will listen objectively to these mistakes to see if you may be making some of them (unknowingly, I am sure!).

Thank you to today’s experts/colleagues/friends for their contributions! We’ve included links to their Twitter accounts and websites! Please be sure to add them all to your “must read” resources!

Go here to catch Miriam’s collection of job seeker mistakes as identified by some of the best minds in the world of job search.


You’ve heard the saying, “Kids say the darnedest things”. Yep, adults in job search do too! These are the mistakes our job search experts have heard or experienced:

Recruiters complain that job seekers who are not organized sound like they are indifferent, or uninterested, in something they have applied to weeks or months earlier.  You must be organized. (JibberJobber.com)  ~ Jason Alba, @JasonAlba, Jibber Jobber

Sometimes, job seekers do not ask for the job at the end of the interview, they do not ask about the next step in the interview process, and they forget to gather interviewer names and contact information for future conversations. ~ Dawn Bugni, @DawnBugni, The Write Solution

 Job seekers don’t do the necessary research.  In the technology age, we have the information at our fingertips.  Doing a little research on the company’s history, brands, values and corporate culture can help you decide whether or not you’re a fit AND prepare you for the career fair or interview.  You’d be surprised at how many people have no idea what the company does.  Don’t ask, “what do you do?”  Instead, focus on how your strengths will add value to the company! ~ Kirk Baumann, @kbaumann, Campus to Career

Not returning calls or replying to messages from prospective employers. Just as you hope for a reply from every recruiter, so should you reply to everyone who contacts you about work opportunities, even if it’s only to say “no thanks”. ~ Jacob Share, @JacobShare, JobMob

Simply asking people if they know of appropriate job openings is not networking! It creates awkward silence since people are not walking job boards. Instead, asking who else they know that would be a worthwhile contact for you is generally much more productive. ~ Harry Urschel, @eExecutives, e-Executives

Many job seekers are not specific in what they need help with during a job search; saying “I need a job, any job” is too vague. Instead, tell your network you are trying to find the name of the person who does _________ at _______company, and you’ll have much better luck with people being able to help you. ~ Dawn Rasmussen, @DawnRasmussen, Pathfinder Writing and Career Services

Job seekers don’t let the company fall in love with them before they start talking about “me” issues. They should focus on getting the job first. Then focus on the benefits and perks. Not only will it help in getting the job but it helps with negotiations.  ~ Sharlyn Lauby, @HRBartender, HR Bartender 


Having a clear focus and plan will help set you apart from the other job seekers! 

Most job seekers do not establish clear and tangible job search objectives. They leave their network with no clear idea of how they can help. ~ Tim Tyrell-Smith, @TimsStrategyTim’s Strategy

Jobseekers don’t create a project plan for managing their job search, with specific targets and metrics for each week. Some job search activities come easier than others, and without having targets and metrics for all activities, jobseekers tend to focus on the ones that come easy to them. Confident networkers spend all their time networking but not researching companies. Introverts spend too much time looking at job boards and not stretching out of their comfort zone to network. An effective job search requires time spent on research, networking, follow-up, telephone calls, personal brand management, and so on. Without a plan, some of these activities will fall through the cracks.  ~ Karen Siwak, @resumestrategy, Resume Confidential

The reality is, that transitioning (job searching) will most likely be the new normal and something we’ll all have to continue to stay up to date on.


time is ticking for your job searchIf you want to make sure you are doing the right things and not making mistakes, you could order our new eBook, “You Need a Job: 5 Steps to Get One!”  here is the link to order your copy! It contains 29 chapters with 108 pages of tips and advice for every aspect of you job search!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • TimsStrategy June 9, 2012, 11:37 am

    These are so important – thanks for pulling them together in such a practical, easy to swallow post.  Heading over to the post from @keppie_careers now!

    • Hannah Morgan June 10, 2012, 4:35 am

      You are so welcome and THANK YOU for your contribution! Now…if there were just a quick-fix we could give job seekers that would eliminate all these! I know, I know, there’s no such thing, but wouldn’t it be nice!?

  • MetadataLibrarian June 9, 2012, 9:36 pm

    After reading articles like this, I’m still stymied as to why I don’t yet have a job…I do the research for each organization for every job application to “target” my resume and cover letter, making a list of how my strengths & knowledge can help them, and then do even more research for the interview; l only apply to jobs that appear to fit my skills/career goals so that I can be passionate about the whole thing; I check email and phone messages every day to be sure I reply ASAP to those places who are now contacting me for interview; I network “properly”, letting people know what kind of job I’m seeking (metadata, cataloging, or accessibility librarian); I have my application spreadsheet up-to-date (org. name, contact info if given, job title, deadlines, disposition of application)…it’s so frustrating to be doing all the correct things, and to be told I give a great interview or make a great impression, yet still not have a job offer.
    Is there a “trick” I’m missing, or is it just because the job market really is that bad?

    • Hannah Morgan June 10, 2012, 4:46 am


      I understand it is frustrating. But don’t let it get you down! It sounds like you are getting interviews…have you been videotaped during a mock interview or even gotten feedback from a trusted advisor on your interviewing skills? Maybe there is something you could do better during the interviews but asking the actual interviewer will probably not get you the candid feedback you desire. They just can’t provide that for many reasons. Practice with someone you respect and ask them! Let me know how it works out!

  • Kay Riley June 13, 2012, 8:25 pm

    Great post!!  Thanks for pulling it all together.  Having been a hiring manger, I have seen many of these mistakes.  As Kirk mentions, the job seeker that really turns me off is the one that comes unprepared; he doesn’t know what the company does, what the job requirements consist of, and is unable to connect how his skills will help the company.  You get the feeling they are just setting up job interviews with anyone willing to invite them to one, rather than focusing on whether the job is a good match for both sides.
    Dawn mentions another typical mistake.  I expect to hear a “summation” of sorts at the end of an interview.  As we are wrapping up the interview, I’m waiting for them to deliver their last pitch as to why they want the job, why they are the best person for the job, and as they get up to leave, they are asking me for a business card and when they should expect a decision to be made.  If they don’t have this part down and simply thank me for my time and leave, I don’t get the feeling they are all that interested in the position.