July 3, 2013

4 Mistakes Every Job Seeker Makes—and How to Avoid Them

Businesswoman balancing on ropeWith a slow economy and a serious shortage of job openings to deal with, you’re not alone if you’re unemployed and searching for a new job. It seems like landing the right job is getting tougher every day to boot. Naturally, it could pay off in a big way to set yourself apart from the competition any way you can.

However, playing up your assets and putting your best face forward is only part of the battle. It’s also important to make sure you’re not making huge mistakes that could ultimately keep you from being hired.

Recent studies show that the biggest mistake Millennials are making in their job pursuits is not wearing appropriate interview attire. Although this is specific to this particular group, there are plenty of mistakes job seekers of all ages make. Below I’ve outlined four the most common, errors you should be aware of to ensure you can avoid them in the future:

1. Not Doing Enough Research

One thing a lot of job seekers fail to understand is how advantageous it can be to do their homework in regards to the company they’re applying to. This is an especially common mistake for people just entering the professional workforce. Job interviews are likely to be peppered with questions about why you want to work for the company and where you see yourself fitting in there. Also, researching the company in advance can give you some valuable tips in regards to how to present yourself and what skills to play up. Visit the company’s website and take a thorough look around before crunch time.

2. Not Recognizing Valuable Job Skills 

Far too many people fail to realize that they have highly marketable, sought after job skills that they forget to play up because they simply don’t recognize what they are. People skills, computer savvy, past sales experience, creative skills, and so forth are all common examples. Try searching for online information to help clue you in to what else you may be able to use to sell yourself, but could also be forgetting all about. You may even want to consider adding some or all of the skills you discover to your actual resume.

Did you work as a cashier in your local supermarket once? Don’t see how that benefits the communications position you’re currently applying for. A cashier works in the customer service industry, meaning you had to successfully interact with others on a daily basis. This no doubt enhanced your interpersonal communication, non-verbal communication and critical thinking skills. Don’t discount these traits on your resume.

3. Being Overconfident or Overenthusiastic

Most people know not to be complacent at a job interview. However, a lot of people don’t realize that swinging too far to the opposite end of the spectrum can have the same negative effect on the impression they make. This applies in regards to your resume, as well as your demeanor at the actual interview. Overconfidence is easily mistaken for arrogance and overenthusiastic behavior for a “fake” personality. Try a rehearsal interview with a friend who’s willing to give an honest opinion on how you come across before your big day.

4. Not Paying Attention to Body Language

Lots of people spend time agonizing over their resume or worrying about what to wear to their actual interview. They probably even make it a point to rehearse their answers to commonly asked questions they’re likely to encounter. However, they almost never think to pay attention to what their own body language is saying. This means that there’s a chance odd facial expressions, fidgeting habits, nervous tics, or other behaviors along those lines could be keeping them from acing job interviews and ultimately getting hired. Go into your interview making it a point to watch such things and nip them in the bud before they have a chance to derail you.

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Marie is a writer for Recruiter.com covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.