You may not know you are sabotaging your job search so let me call out these 5 things and explain why they are so damaging to your job search.
Job seekers unwittingly make mistakes. It’s easy to do when there isn’t written set of rules to follow.
While you are probably familiar with the smaller and easily-fixable reasons job seekers mess up (being rude, dressing unprofessionally, not tweaking resumes); these are the bigger and more important things that are sabotaging your job search.
1. Ignoring Directions
Employers provide directions on how to apply in their job descriptions, and often request information they would like you to submit. For example, when they ask for salary history, don’t ignore this request. However, you don’t have to divulge a number that would suggest you’re too expensive or under market value.
Address the request for salary history in your cover letter. You can either include a range, or provide a good reason why you will not be providing this information at this time, followed by a statement that you would be happy to discuss your past salary during the interview.
Employers also provide directions when they are arranging interviews and sending you follow-up messages.
Rightly or wrongly, here’s what it says when you don’t follow instructions. If you overlook or ignore their directions you are telling a potential employer that this is how you will perform on the job. You are presenting yourself as someone who feels the rules do not apply to them. Or, at the very least, you look like you don’t pay attention to detail. Either way, you’re sending the wrong message.
2. Bad-Mouthing Your Situation, Boss or Employer
Whether you’re meeting with a former colleague, hiring manager, recruiter, or anyone else with the power to refer or hire you, you must be aware that they are evaluating you and always present yourself as someone who will tackle difficult problems.
Everyone knows that employees are downsized due to no fault of their own. But this isn’t an excuse to blame or criticize your past employer.
When asked why you left your last job, never blame others. Take ownership of whatever you can. Then explain what you’ve done to remedy the situation in a concise, non-defensive answer.
Your response to what you have been doing during your job search also indicates how motivated you are. Your answer should reference any volunteer work you’ve done or classes you’ve taken. Anything is better than nothing.
When you complain about any of these things, you don’t come across as a problem-solver, you look like a complainer— and no one likes someone who complains.
3. Showing Up Unprepared
When you show up at a job interview, be sure you have enough copies of your resume, that you have researched the company, and that you have prepared questions to ask.
When asked why you want to work for that employer, your answer must include why you feel they would be a good company to work for and how you can help them.
Interviewers are assessing this answer to see how “hungry” you are for the job. Their belief is that the candidates who really want the position have taken time to research the job and the company and know how they will fit in. And always have questions to ask. Nothing says “not interested” more than not asking questions.
4. Only Searching for Jobs Posted Online
Many times, employers have already identified a candidate they want to hire by the time they have posted the job.
When you only use job postings to find jobs, you may miss out on unadvertised opportunities, enter the competition too late, and then find yourself competing with hundreds of other qualified candidates.
For better job search results, talk to people who work inside companies who could hire you potentially.
Savvy job seekers create a list of potential employers and begin looking for people they know inside these companies so they can learn about upcoming, unadvertised openings.
5. Ignoring the Power of Social Media
Without a strong social media presence, you are sabotaging your job search.
If you proclaim you won’t use Facebook for job search or think Twitter is a waste of time, please, reconsider.
These choices portray resistance to learning new things and reflects how you approach work. In case you forgot, when you start a new job, learning new things is a major component of your new role.
Social recruiting is on the rise and more employers are turning to LinkedIn for faster and higher quality hires.
Now would be a good time to learn how to use social media to identify company insiders, read news about target companies, and participate in discussions to keep you up to date on industry trends. It demonstrates you are committed to lifelong learning, not afraid of challenges and technology, and that you will be a valuable contributor.
Originally appeared on US News & World Report’s On Careers blog! 5 Ways You’re Ruining Your Job Search
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.