To help you avoid a costly faux pas, I’ve put together a list of the six missteps that’ll sabotage your job search:
1. Failing to proofread job-hunting materials. I know, you would never email a resumé with a typo or a cover letter with grammatical errors.
According to a 2012 survey by the CareerBuilder job site, 61 percent of employers said they’d automatically dismiss from consideration a resumé with typos.
Incidentally, when applying for a job, use a professional sounding email address. You won’t be taken seriously with an email addres that begins with something like honeypie@. An email address like firstname.lastname@example.org will do the trick.
2. Ignoring your online footprint. The first thing an employer will do after reviewing your resumé is look for you online. If you don’t show up there, the hiring manager will either conclude that you are a technological dinosaur (especially if you’re over 50) or have little to offer.
This also means that anything you write on a social media site, like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a personal blog are potentially part of your prospective employer's screening process.
You can limit the damage of a weak online presence by being proactive.
3. Sounding wishy-washy about your job objective. When networking to find employment, you’ll probably be asked, “What type of job are you looking for?”
If you haven’t prepared a crisp, succinct and compelling answer to that question, you’re toast. The more confident and clear you are, the likelier others can and will help you.
It’s fine to say you have two goals, if you can concisely explain both of them. For example: “I’d like a VP-level position with a Fortune 500 consumer products firm in either the beverage or packaged foods sector.”
4. Playing the pity game. Yes, it’s a tough economy. Yes, age discrimination is real (particularly for women). Yes, it’s increasingly difficult for the long-term unemployed to find jobs. But you know what? Interviewers and your networking contacts don’t want to hear it.
Blaming the economy for your unemployed job status or saying things like “It’s just so much tougher for people over 50 to get hired” will do little to inspire enthusiasm for your candidacy, no matter how talented you may be.
5. Not preparing a list of questions for your interview. While I was a human resources director, nothing spoiled a job interview faster than when I got to the end and asked, “What questions do you have?” only to get a blank stare.
In your initial meeting, keep your queries focused on the work. Save questions about compensation, flexible schedules and other benefits for later interviews.
6. Forgetting to say “thank you” when networking. Sadly, I’ve found this to be a common error made by job searchers who’ve received advice or referrals from their contacts.
Not only is failing to express your appreciation bad manners, it’s just plain dumb. The people who’ve assisted you probably won’t say anything, but they won’t forget about your lack of grace.