5 Job Search Mistakes you absolutely need to avoid

The job market evolves constantly, hiring managers are no longer looking for the same candidate as 5 years ago, companies use robots to select their candidate, LinkedIn has become the new place to be for job seekers and networking has never been so difficult with everyone spending more time in front of their computer than with people.

When you are looking for a job there are easy and not so obvious job search mistakes you can make. From limiting yourself to a few job sites, or job search engines, or not knowing how you can fastly make your job search. Job hunting is not easy, unless spending your life into it. No one is really good at it because once you have found your dream job this is no longer something you will be looking at improving. Therefore it is easy to make mistakes. Let us review the easy job search mistakes you absolutely should avoid.

1. Searching for a job without understanding what has changed

The first mistake most people make is to think that the job market or the way to search for a job is exactly the same way as when they had to do it the last time. Someone out of the job search activity for more than a year, absolutely needs to read a blog like this to understand what has changed in the recent time. To also save time by updating your job market knowledge and understanding what recruiters are searching for in their selection process.

Understand what are the most efficient professional social media (today LinkedIn is the one, tomorrow, it may be another one) the best job search engines or sites, the new skills trends etc.

Looking for a job 10 years ago was about writing a resume, a cover letter and listing the company address for which you wanted to work for. Today is about personal branding, networking, soft skills and job description keywords.

2. Having no idea what an Application Tracking System is about (ATS)

Application Tracking systems are everywhere, Jobscan studies found that “98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS while a Kelly OCG survey estimated 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on recruitment software.

An Application Tracking System is a software that helps recruiters to make a pre-selection of the candidate to invite for a job interview. This software uses parameters or if we like to call it criterias that are set up by the companies to make the selection. Therefore, it is important to understand how to make your application ATS friendly. Read more about it here “How to make sure your resume beats the Application Tracking System (ATS)”

3. Sending uncustomized resume

This 3rd search mistake is directly linked with not knowing about the Application Tracking System (ATS). It is also linked with what recruiters want to see in an application. Each resume sent to apply for a specific job position, should be customized based on the job description. The exercise is quite straightforward. It is for the applicant to list the keywords that are important in the job description and make sure they can be found in the resume. It is also for the cover letter to use as much as possible the same wording and so on. The more you will customize your application to fit the job description, the more you will have chances to be selected in the first round of the application process.


4. Not using your network or not networking at all

In today’s world, networking is a big thing! It has taken a different shape than a few years ago. Before, networking was about knocking next door and making sure that you connect personally and professionaly so next time you need help or support she or he will feel comfortable and trusted to do so.

While today the concept of networking has taken a U turn with digital, the principles are the same: knowing the right person at the right time. Networking starts with building your personal brand, who you are as a professional and growing your network around it. It starts with having a LinkedIn profile optimized: having connected with people in your field, having visible recommendations and endorse other skills so you can appear on their profile.

Connect with people and make sure you are visible and have others recognize you as a professional. While today networking is not limited to the people in your building it is also more difficult to make real connections. It is more difficult to make someone feel the real person you are and build trust.

Eventually because it is more difficult the chance that once you have a genuine connection you keep this person all over your career is great. Last advice, start networking as soon as you can in your career and never stop. One person can change your life, plus we all need human connection to feel human.

5. Applying to every job (Being a generalist and not a specialist)

The last important thing to know about job search mistakes that many people do is about trying to fit in everything. The current generation arriving on the market has never been so educated in the entire time of humanity. It is not so rare to find someone with a Bachelor or a Master Degree. While those diplomas open doors on the job market they also make everyone look the same.


You need to find something that is your competitive advantage on the job market so you will beat the competition. Simple, isn't it? In reality this is a little bit more complicated but not impossible. What you need to do is to understand what is your real value on the job market, what you have that others don’t. Is it a specific experience in a specific field? is it your capacity to network and build a long term trusted relationship with most people you meet? Is it your capacity in operating change in complex situations? Understand the one thing that makes you so special and build your personal brand around it. Recruiters when making their job selection process are most of the time looking for a specific profile, unless the company is recruiting many people for a type of position.


As a summary:


  1. Get yourself updated on the job market

  2. Make your application ATS friendly

  3. Customize your application based on the job description

  4. Network all the time and understand from your network if there are job opportunities

  5. Specialize yourself and find your competitive advantage on the job market

Knowing about those 5 mistakes people make in their job search will help to boost your application and increase greatly your chances to get to the first step of the application process.


If you need other customized advice on your application, check out our Job Booster Session.