Getting Started Job Search Tips

3 Job Search Mistakes That Are Killing Your Chances

Written by Kate Lopaze

Looking for a job can feel like throwing pasta at the wall to see what sticks. Conventional wisdom tells us to keep doing everything we can until something does stick. But is that actually helpful? Here are some common job search mistakes that you should be careful to avoid while you’re on a job hunt.

1. You apply for jobs that you aren’t qualified for

There’s definitely an aspirational part of job hunting, especially if you’re looking to move up. That can be dangerous, though, if it means you’re applying for jobs where you know you don’t quite fit the experience level the company is seeking. On a basic level, it could mean that your resume gets skipped altogether. If your resume makes the cut and you make it to the next point (an interview of some kind), falling short in experience could get your hopes up for an inevitable disappointment when they go with someone who better fits the job description.

Similarly, using phrases like “fast learner” and “adapts to any new role” in your cover letter or resume may sound like a good way to spin if you’re reaching a bit, but you could just be setting yourself up for disappointment and an even longer hunt. . The reach-for-the-stars attitude is admirable, but it might not match up with reality.

2. You don’t network or grow your influence

Back in the old days, people would find out about job openings in the newspaper, send in a resume by mail (with a stamp, no less), and wait patiently to hear back. The internet has accelerated this process greatly, making it easier than ever to find and identify opportunities. But you know how else people found jobs in the old days? Good old-fashioned word of mouth and recommendations. That part isn’t as outdated as the snail mail application process.

Job openings are still often filled by candidates who have an “in” somehow with the hiring company, and search engines just can’t replicate that personal touch. So if you want to be the one with an in, you need to look for a better way into a company. Try to connect via LinkedIn—do you have any first- or second-degree contacts who work at your target company? If so, finagle that into an introduction and you can be the candidate with a personal introduction and a leg up.

3. You’re too proactive

Being proactive is great. Being proactive can show you’re a go-getter. However, being proactive does not mean constantly reaching out to the HR department for status updates once you’ve applied or interviewed. I know how frustrating it can be to wait and wait and wait and wait when you’re anxious to hear what’s going on. Pace your floor if you have to, but don’t reach out to HR unless it’s been more than a week of radio silence. For starters, HR might be in a holding pattern while the hiring manager sees all of the candidates or is simply too busy to wrap up the process. Whatever the reason, haunting HR once a day is not going to endear you to the people you’re hoping will hire you.

If any of these sound familiar, you shouldn’t feel badly. We’re all guilty of these things at one time or another. Just know that they can slow down your job search and even hurt your chances for getting into the right position. So be patient, be realistic, and be sure that your efforts will pay off in the long run.

About the author

Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.