For most of us, the job search seems pretty straightforward: You come across a job posting that looks like a good fit, apply for that job online, potentially get called in for an interview, and hopefully land the job.
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Unfortunately, this seemingly straightforward process is riddled with the potential for wrong turns. The jobs you choose to apply for, how you construct your resume, and the way you communicate with hiring managers are just a few decisions in your job search that can lead you astray.
Here are four common ways you can ruin a job search – and some advice on how to avoid the pitfalls:
1. Use a Generic Resume
Remember that time you hit "send" on a college application essay just before you realized it still had the name of the previous college you applied for in it? That's the kind of mistake you should never make twice.
Using a generic resume and cover letter – even if you do change the name of the company – will never make you stand out to the hiring manager or the applicant tracking system. Properly tailoring each resume using keywords, correct formatting, and relevant job titles can go a long way.
2. Apply for as Many Jobs as Possible
Hiring managers can spot a lazy resume from a mile away. While using a customized resume for each job takes more time, cutting corners in order to apply for every open position on a job board will get you nowhere in your job search.
Want proof? Try sending out only generic resumes for a week. Then, send out only tailored resumes the following week. The tailored resumes will undoubtedly have a higher response rate.
3. Come on Too Strong
Interviewing is a little bit like dating. If you want it to go well, you have to look nice, give all the right answers, and not let your desperation show.
As with a first date, coming on too strong following an interview can make the hiring manager believe you have no other options. The trick? Find the middle ground between "uninterested" and "desperate." Following up is fine, but sending more than a thank-you email the day of your interview and a follow-up message a week later may come off as annoying.
4. Don't Prioritize LinkedIn
Ninety-three percent of hiring managers use LinkedIn to scope out candidates. Letting your LinkedIn profile go static can be just as bad for your job search as sending out a bad resume. If you don't make an effort to optimize your LinkedIn profile, you are greatly limiting your potential by letting an unfinished, outdated profile speak for you. Stay on top of things by consistently updating your work history, seeking out endorsements, and making relevant connections.
There's nothing more frustrating than putting your time into a job search and getting nothing back but radio silence. If you're not getting the response you're looking for, you could be unknowingly ruining your job search. Sometimes all it takes is redirecting your efforts so they can be helpful rather than detrimental.
James Hu is the founder and CEO of Jobscan.