Thursday, February 3, 2011

13 Ways to Sabotage Your Job Search

by Maria Hanson, LiveCareer

Looking for a new job but having no luck? You may be inadvertently sabotaging your efforts by making easy-to-avoid errors.

"It still surprises me that in most cases, people are their own worst enemies when it comes to getting a new job," says Tom Parr, of executive search firm Holland & Associates.

Check out these top ways career experts say job seekers sabotage their efforts. Avoid them, and you'll be on your way to a more successful job search.

"Without a good system, you have no way to know if you're doing the right things, no way to find and stop the things you're doing wrong," says career blogger and coach Steven Savage. "People should track their vital numbers--resumes sent out, contacts made, interviews gotten--so they can improve those numbers."

"Some people spend too much time thinking about what to say in their cover letter or researching the company, and miss the window for applying," says executive coach Kathi Elster.

Trying to match all of a job ad's requirements
"When employers draft ads for jobs, they have the ideal candidate in mind. The ideal candidate rarely exists," says career counselor Kathleen Brady. "Unless something is listed as 'required,' if you're lacking two or three qualifications, just apply anyway."

Not quantifying accomplishments
"Using numbers to show things like how much revenue you brought in, the costs you avoided, or the percent increase in efficiency you were responsible for, tell a hiring manager a lot more about your capabilities than words can," says J.T. Kirk, the author of "Confessions of a Hiring Manager."

Use a resume builder for help quantifying your achievements. Professionally written resume samples and examples will help you show the results of your work.

"Inactivity and procrastination breed hopelessness. It's essential to stay active in your job search, even when you don't feel like it," says career counselor Joanne Meehl. She says too many job-seekers say they're looking, when all they're doing is watching TV or mowing the lawn while merely thinking about finding a job.

Failing to maintain relationships
"The world is all about connections," says Cynthia Kazalia, a recruiter for New Directions Career Center. "In addition to networking, try to maintain relations with former supervisors and coworkers. You never know when you might need one another in a job search."

Not following directions
"Many people sabotage themselves at step one, and will never move on from there," says Naomi Moneypenny, vice president of research and technology at ManyWorlds. "If you can't follow simple directions in a job posting, you could be screened out immediately."

Ensure that your resume won't be screened out, with a free resume test.

"Oftentimes, job candidates disregard background and reference checks or educational verification for degree completion, or exaggerate or flat-out lie about their credentials," says Lizandra Vega, author of "The Image of Success." Stick with the truth, because chances are you will be caught.

Botching the cover-letter salutation
"Writing 'Dear Sir or Madam' is a clear and quick path to rejection, when you could easily find the name of the hiring manager. Even worse is 'Dear Sirs.' In the past two years I've had to respond to at least a dozen candidates by telling them they'd just 'Dear Sir-ed' their way out of a job," says Lauren Milligan, a career coach with ResuMAYDAY. She advises that if you can't find the name of the hiring manager online, use a professional salutation like "Dear Hiring Committee."

Being too self-centered
"A cover letter needs to show exactly how your values and experience mesh with what the company needs," says Art Fox, who teaches business writing at DePaul University. "Writing about your accomplishments is not enough."

"I can't believe how careless people can be," says Michael Hayes, of Momentum Specialized Staffing, who recently got a cover letter stating, "Hello, I just moved from Illinosi to the Phoenix area and would lovbe to get started working...." Lorne Epstein, creator of the Facebook application InSide Job, joins his disbelief, having just fielded a note stating, "I hope that this does not reach you you redundantly."

Forgetting the revealing power of the Internet
Of 400 applicants Kirk Sullivan, president of Cr8 Public Relations, received for a recent opening, he reports that "more than 300 sent resumes that did not match their LinkedIn resume.... At least 100 had Facebook profile photos of them half naked, in a 'love lock,' or holding a bottle of liquor. In addition, Google word searches found that the writing samples of more than 150 applicants were taken from other people's writing on the Internet."

Using a questionable email address
"The name mrluvuallnite@____ or sexylittlemommy@____ may get you a few nods on a dating site, but not with a potential employer," says tech writer and resume consultant Jae Henderson.

Follow these expert tips to stop sabotaging your job search, so you can land your dream job. To find your best career--and learn more about your career interests and unique work personality, take a free career test.

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