Dumb and Dumber: Making any of these stupid job search mistakes?
Dumb and Dumber: Making any of these stupid job search mistakes?

Dumb and Dumber: Making any of these stupid job search mistakes?

We all make mistakes. But when you're looking for a job--especially in a tight market--mistakes can be fatal. Even if you're doing everything else right, that one little misstep just might be putting you out of the running. Not just once, but time after time.

After time.

Overlooked a simple detail? Become complacent? Let down your guard? Or are you otherwise unknowingly dooming your perfectly employable self to failure in the ongoing job search? If so, you can make your job search more successful by knowing what not to do. This checklist will help.

Seven Dumb Mistakes You Should Never Make:
  1. "Burying the lede." That's what they call it in journalism when you don't find out what the point of the story is until, say, paragraph six. (Which is to say, after most people would stop reading it.)

    So get to your point quickly! When you are writing a resume, cover letter or any other document aimed at capturing the attention of a potential employer, make sure the most hire-worthy facts about you appear somewhere in the first four lines. Any later than that, and they might not see it.

  2. Failure to proofread. "Seeking party-time position." Enough said.

  3. Overconfidence. Everywhere you look, people are telling you that you should act confidently. Nobody likes hang-dog looks, drooping shoulders or an over-apologetic stance. But it's easy to go overboard with the confidence thing. It can lead to:
    • Going into interviews unprepared. It's all about the people skills, right? Wrong. Being smooth and personable in the interview is good, but it's not enough. You need to prepare your "elevator pitch" (state in three sentences or less why you will be an asset to the company). You need to have researched the company, as well as the position. You must be able to show that you have prepared for this interview. Otherwise, it will appear that you don't really want this job.
    • Excessive casualness and informality. You can be confident and still begin your emails with a "Dear" and end them, "Sincerely." You and the potential employer are not friends yet. Don't act like you are.
    • Arrogance. You want your interviewer to know what you've accomplished. But don't take all the credit for successes that were the result of a team effort. It will make you look like you are not collaborative--and a bit of an egomaniac, to boot.

  4. Under-confidence. This one is tougher. Because after a long job search and a boatload of rejections, who wouldn't be a little lacking in confidence? But negative thinking not only drags you down, it makes you less appealing to others--even potential employers.

    If you find yourself talking yourself down, cut negativity off at the pass by changing your internal dialogue. Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses--on how well you've prepared for this interview, not how nervous you are. If this doesn't work, talk to people who can lift your spirits, such as a good friend, or even a group of like-minded job seekers on Meetup.com.

  5. An image problem. If you're on social media, pay attention. Google yourself daily. If anything new shows up, click through and read. Does it make you look good to a potential employer?

    In fact, apply that mindset to everything you post online. Status updates, tweets, Instagram posts, even "likes" and comments. Try to read them as a hiring manager would.

    Posting silly cat videos? They'll worry that you will be a major time waster. Making mean comments? You might antagonize your colleagues. Uploading drinking photos? Well, that's just poor judgment.

    While you're thinking about social media, check your privacy settings and lock them down. Friends only. Yes, it's boring to think like this. But you want your job search to end, don't you? Once it does, you can consider a lighter approach. For now, keep it clean and professional.

  6. Acting like it's all about you. To you, it IS all about you--and if you get an interview for the perfect job, you might be tempted to say so. After all, it seems like great karma to discover a job that has hours that match your kid's school day, or is walking distance from your house. But to say so would be to get everything backwards. The only thing that matters to a potential employer is what you can do for her...not what she can do for you.

  7. Forgetting your manners. Did your mother teach you how to write thank you notes? Well, brush off that skill and follow up with a note after every interview. Good manners, sometimes, are all it takes to elevate you above the crowd.

    If you need help rebooting your job search, turn to the experts.

Reprinted with permission courtesy of
Alkar Human Resources