12 Job Hunting Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make: Why You Didn’t Get Hired For The Job

Searching for a job is hard work.  It doesn’t matter if you’re unemployed or if you are working but testing the market to see if there is indeed greener grass elsewhere. Under any circumstances, exercising the patience, vigilance, and creativity necessary to successfully find a job isn’t easy.

In addition to making sure you do all the right things, there are also job hunting mistakes you can’t afford to make, any one of which may be the reason you didn’t get hired for the job.

“How-to” literature is full of suggestions about what to do to get hired.  Where/how to look, what to write, what to focus on, and what to say in your thank-you note, to name a few.  The same literature, however, spends precious little time identifying what not to do.  At the end of the day, it may be one of the job-hunting mistakes you make that ensures you do not get hired for that job you want so much.

Before we address some of the most impactful job searching mistakes made when seeking a new job, remember that they aren’t necessarily big mistakes, making them both more common and avoidable at the same time.

Here, then, are some things to be mindful of:

Defeatism breeds defeat  

If you have a negative attitude about your search and think you can disguise that, you’re wrong.  Whether in the tone of your writing or voice, the manner in which you organize or prepare for an interview, the sources you turn to for job openings, your negativity will show itself and may even do so in ways you don’t see (but others can).  Don’t be negative.  Choose otherwise. Don’t make this job searching mistake.

Limited thought limits opportunity

It’s a brave new world out there, one that rewards the brave. If you rely on traditional methods of job hunting because, well, you’ve always done those things to get hired (job boards, anyone?), you’ll significantly reduce the number of avenues you can pursue.

Use the Internet to research industries, companies and employment opportunities in detail. Contact people you know in the line of work you’re looking to enter and sound them out for advice.  Most professionals welcome a chance to provide mentoring. Restricting your options or hamstringine your own efforts. are job hunting mistakes to avoid!

Are you online? 

Is your online personality consistent with the professional image you want to convey?

You have a LinkedIn profile, yes?  No?  Mistake.  Make setting one up a priority.  You’ll be able to create a network of professional contacts that is, as the saying goes, worth its weight in gold.  Failure to use LinkedIn and other tools available that are designed to organize and aid your job search activities is a huge job hunting mistake, plain and simple.

Clean up after yourself 

Once you’ve created (or revisited, reviewed, and revitalized) your professional online presence (e.g, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.), spend some quality time evaluating it.  Is there anything on your social networking platforms that you wouldn’t want a prospective employer to see? If so, get rid of it.

Many people make the mistake of relying on some nonexistent “right to privacy on the Internet” protection, believing that employers can’t use “personal” stuff made publicly available on social media when making employment decisions.

Simply intending for it to be personal does not, however, mysteriously convey privacy protection on the information.  Saying “they can’t do that” is folly.  They can and won’t tell you if they did.

Dnt wrt lk u txt

Despite the fact that “everyone texts, “no one writes in textese.  Especially not during your job search and especially not with employers and recruiters. Don’t do it.  We don’t live in that world.  Not yet anyway.  lol!

A rapier wit and biting sarcasm may be appropriate for social media.  Job seekers, however, should not try to demonstrate how hip or clever they are during a job search.  This isn’t Twitter.  If you use IDK, JK, OMG, etc. while looking for a job, your application will likely be DOA and any LOL will probably be at you, not with you.

“It’s a small world after all”

Regardless of the size of the industry/municipality the job is in, don’t assume that people are strangers.   If you’re going to drop names while networking, make sure that they’re names of people you know, who know you, and who won’t object to being associated with you.  Nothing will destroy your network faster than pretending it includes someone you actually don’t know.  If the credibility of even one part of your network becomes questionable, your whole network becomes questionable.


This word conveys the same meaning as puffery, prevarication and “exaggerating the truth.”  In reality, these words all denote dishonesty.  Lie in your cover letter, on your resume, or during the interview, and you are doomed.

But wait, you say, you weren’t being dishonest.  You really believed what you wrote or said to be true.  Perhaps, but that won’t matter to the interviewer or HR department of your prospective employer.

Research the information you intend to provide before you assert it to be factual.  (Related: Unlike other areas in our lives, job seekers should not “fake it until they make it”.)

Do your homework

Research the company, the industry, even the person interviewing you if possible.  Know as much as there is to know and use this info to not only anticipate interview questions but to craft your presentation of why you are the perfect fit for the job.

Cover your bases (i.e., your resume)

With a cover letter, of course.  This is a sadly common job-hunting mistakes. Don’t send a resume without a note introducing yourself.  Although your cover letter should never take the place of your resume, you can use it to help bridge a gap between your skillset and the required qualifications (if such a gap exists).  If you claim to have “excellent written communication skills,” here’s your chance to prove it.

Check, 1, 2, check….

Don’t think that spell checking is all you need to do before submitting a resume.  Ensure that it makes sense too.  Also, be certain that the resume you’re sending is appropriate for the position for which the company is hiring.  You do have more than one resume, right?

Be. On. Time. 

Really, we have to mention this?  Okay, if you are going to be late, call to let your interviewer know.  Plan ahead.  Still… Don’t.  Be.  Late.

Who are you?

If your presentation is not outstanding, you can count on being quickly forgotten.  Prepare your elevator pitch. Describe in detail who you are, what you want, and what you can do for them.

12 Job Hunting Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make: Why You Didn’t Get Hired For The Job

About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. To learn more about the services offered by Distinctive Career Services visit https://www.distinctiveweb.com

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