5 common mistakes a job seeker can make

As you look for your next job, try to avoid making these common mistakes.

If you're currently looking for a new job, it's important to take a step back and look at your process. Are you doing everything you can to attract the attention of employers?

A small misstep can keep you from landing your dream job, so it's important to make sure you're using best practices in your search to optimize your results. There are simple steps you can take to discover more opportunities and increase your chances of getting hired.

Here are some of the worst mistakes you can make while hunting for jobs:

With a strong professional social media presence, recruiters will take you more seriously as a candidate.

1. Not being present on social professional networks

Did you know that social professional networking sites like LinkedIn are the top source for qualified candidates? Employers will use these sites to connect with you and learn more about your skills and working experience.

If you apply for a job, the recruiter will probably look you up on LinkedIn to learn more about you. And if you don't have a profile set up, or the one you do have is lackluster, the recruiter will take that as a bad sign and potentially dismiss your application.

2. Submitting a generic cover letter and resume

When you're applying for many jobs over a short period of time, writing all those cover letters can get exhausting. This is why many applicants use the same basic template over and over again, consisting of their work history and a few other pieces of information about themselves.

Do not slip into this habit. Instead, customize your cover letter and resume for every single application. Make sure your cover letter discusses previous job responsibilities and scenarios that relate to the position you're applying for. Also, reorganize your resume so that your most relevant work history is listed first.

"In addition to tailoring your resume for each application, do not rely on automated spelling and grammar check," notes Lindsey Hastings, Division Director for Beacon Hill's Legal Division in Richmond, VA. "Thoroughly proofread your resume for content, grammar and formatting. I've seen too many candidates immediately disqualified as a result of a seemingly inconsequential error that wasn't picked up by spellcheck. Pay extra attention to consistent verb tenses and industry-specific terms. If possible, have a trusted advisor, peer or mentor within your field review your resume and offer advice. The extra level of peer review can make a huge difference when your resume lands in the hands of those eagle-eyed hiring managers."

3. Having a negative social media presence

Recruiters often screen candidates' social media profiles to get a better sense of who they are outside of work. If you have questionable content on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages, that could hurt your chances of getting the job. So what is questionable content?

For starters, make sure there's nothing negative or inappropriate on your profile, such as political posts with profane language or pictures of you drinking. Your social media presence conveys how you present yourself to others. And employers don't want to risk hiring someone who is prone to bad behavior.

"It is critically important to make sure your resume and social media are consistent," says Shawna Bestreich, Division Director for Beacon Hill's Associates Division in Dallas. "We have had clients pass on candidates with inconsistencies between their LinkedIn profile and their resume, and have also had clients pass on candidates based on inappropriate photos, commentary, etc. We live in a world where anyone can access anything you put on the web, so it's always wise to remain professional and above reproach on these forums."

4. Going into the interview unprepared

Being unprepared for the interview is perhaps the worst mistake you can make when applying for a job. It will make you look dispassionate in the eyes of the employer.

The best ways to prepare for an interview include doing research into the company, practicing talking points to questions that will likely be asked, and coming up with your own list of questions for the interviewer.

5. Not following up

After the interview, it's important to send a "thank you" email to the person who interviewed you. And if you don't hear back from them after a week, follow up with another email.

Checking on the status of your application at least once a week shows the employer that you are still interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"My team has made hiring decisions based on follow up, or the lack thereof," says Ms. Bestreich. "We coach our candidates to write thank-yous every time they interview fact-to-face, to express appreciation for their time. We have found it to be very helpful. We have also found it helpful to always be honest and transparent – ultimately, you are interviewing the company the same way they are interviewing you. And the only way to make an honest assessment of your potential fit is to give them as much applicable information about yourself and your career as possible."

If you want more tips for landing the perfect job, connect with professional recruiters at Beacon Hill today!

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