CNN.com, AOL.com, and CareerBuilder.com
When you're job hunting, you can go mad
if you think about the amount of factors beyond your control
that affect your chances of getting hired. The economy, your
location, industry trends -- even the hiring manager's mood
-- can influence whether or not you get a job. Still, as nice
as it would be to blame your lack of offers on external factors,
you can't forget that common denominator in your job hunt
-- from the resume to the interview -- is you.
Here are 25 ways you might be unknowingly
sabotaging your own job search:
The First Steps
1. Not keeping track of your accomplishments.
When you're happy with your job, it's easy to forget about
possible future job hunts. You never know when you'll end
up looking for new work, and if you don't keep a running list
of awards, promotions and accomplishments, you might not remember
them when it's time to update your resume.
2. Leaving on a bad note. As much
fun as it is to fantasize about telling off a bad boss, don't
actually do it. Leaving a trail of angry bosses or co-workers
will come back to haunt you when you need references.
3. Not networking. If you're silent
about your job search, your friends, family and colleagues
won't think of you when they hear about job opportunities.
4. Only using the Internet. Online
job boards are fantastic resources, but you need to do some
footwork if you want to increase your chances of finding a
job. Contact companies whom you'd like to work for, even if
there are no job listings. Not all companies advertise openings
5. Only searching for the perfect job.
Yes, your job search should be focused. After all, applying
to every job posting that comes your way is a good way to
waste time but not an effective way to find a job you want.
However, if you approach your job hunt unwilling to accept
anything less than the precise job title, pay, vacation time
and hours you want, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
The Resume and Cover Letter
6. Writing a generic cover letter.
If your cover letter looks like it could have come from a
word processor template, right down to the "To Whom It May
Concern," don't bother sending it. Hiring managers look for
a candidate who wants that specific position, not someone
who sends out applications en masse. Write a new cover letter
for each job application and include details specific to that
7. Typos. Sending a cover letter
or resume filled with grammatical mistakes and typographical
errors shows hiring managers you don't care about the quality
of your work and probably not about the job, either.
8. Including your current work info
as the best place to contact you. Making sure employers
can get in touch with you is important, but they shouldn't
be contacting you at work. "Potential employers are going
to question if these people will search for a new job on their
time," says Kathy Sweeney, resume writer for the Write Resume.
9. Focusing on yourself and not on the
company in the cover letter. "When 'I' is the predominant
subject -- and there are times when it is the only subject
of all the sentences in the cover letter -- it indicates to
me that they don't understand my organization and its needs,
and, in fact, says they don't care to know," says Dion McInnis,
associate vice president for university advancement at University
of Houston-Clear Lake. "And therefore, I don't care to know
10. Not targeting your resume to the
position. Just like the cover letter, your resume should
build a case for you to be hired for a specific position.
If you're applying for a financial analyst position, don't
waste space including your teenage stint as a lifeguard.
11. Showing up late. Nobody likes
to be kept waiting, especially hiring managers evaluating
whether or not you would make a good employee.
12. Dressing for the wrong job.
Your interview attire should match the dress code of the company,
or be one step up. If the office dress code is business casual,
wearing jeans and a T-shirt won't work in your favor. On the
other hand, if you're told dress is casual, you'll stick out
if you show up wearing a double-breasted suit.
13. Not asking questions. When the
interview comes to a close, the hiring manager will undoubtedly
ask if you have any questions for him or her. Not asking anything
is the equivalent of saying, "I don't care all that much about
14. Badmouthing a former boss. When
you talk to hiring managers about a previous employer, you're
also talking about them. The way you talk about a previous
employer is how interviewers think you'll talk about them
in the future, so keep it civil.
15. Not paying attention. Another
way to show you don't care much about the job is to get distracted.
Answering your phone, sending texts or digging through your
bag tells the interviewer that your focus is anywhere except
on the interview.
16. Not researching the position.
Your chief objective in an interview is convincing the hiring
manager you're the best candidate for the job. How can you
prove your qualifications if you don't have an idea of what
skills you're expected to have and what your responsibilities
17. Not researching the company.
Employers want to know that your motivation for work is more
than a paycheck. If you demonstrate that you know something
about the company's history, its goals and its culture, you
prove you want to be a part of the company.
18. Forgetting common etiquette.
Don't cuss, chew gum, burp, take off your shoes, forget to
shower or do anything else that's not appropriate in a business
setting. Don't give the interviewer a reason not to hire you.
19. Forgetting you're being interviewed
from the moment you walk in. Just because you're not sitting
down at a desk across from the hiring manager, don't think
you're not being evaluated. For example, employers will often
ask their receptionists if you were nice them. Even if your
interview involves lunch or dinner, you're trying to get a
job, not show off your ability to down tequila shots.
20. Bringing up salary too soon.
A rule of thumb is that you should never bring up pay; let
the hiring manager do it. Of course employers are aware that
you want to know about the salary, so they will bring it up
when the time is right. Appearing too concerned with money
suggests you aren't passionate about the position or the company.
After the Interview
21. Not sending a thank-you note.
Interview etiquette extends beyond the goodbye hand-shake.
Follow up with the interviewer by sending a thank-you note,
either by e-mail or in the mail. Not only is it standard business
practice, it's also common courtesy.
22. Being over-aggressive in follow-up.
Thanking the hiring manager for the interview is acceptable.
You can even check in to see if a candidate's been hired if
you were given a deadline for the decision. However, calling,
e-mail or stopping by the office repeatedly is not persistent;
23. Not learning from your mistakes.
Not every interview goes off without a hitch, so don't beat
yourself up if you flubbed an answer or two. However, if you
don't take the time to review each interview you go on, you're
bound to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
24. Forgetting where you've applied
and interviewed. After a few weeks, you've applied at
more than dozen places and probably interviewed with a few
companies. Eventually it's harder to remember where you've
sent a resume or interviewed, and applying to the same place
makes you look like an applicant who applies to any posting
that pops up, not the best fit.
25. Stopping your job search while you
wait for a response. Even if your interview for the job
of a lifetime went well, don't freeze your job hunt while
you wait to hear back. For a variety of reasons you might
not get the job, or you might stumble upon an even better
opportunity. You don't have anything to lose by continuing
Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger
for CareerBuilder.com. He researches and writes about job
search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace