These Job-Search Mistakes Are Killing Your Career Prospects

Although close to half of American workers are satisfied with their jobs, according to Pew polls, more than six in 10 Americans indicate they're open to new work opportunities.

If you're one of the workers open to a new job, a tight labor market means you should have plenty of opportunities available to you. The key to taking advantage of those opportunities is to avoid the kind of mistakes that could cost you your dream position.

Unfortunately, many workers make inadvertent errors in the job search process that hurt their efforts. Here are a few of the key errors you'll want to avoid if you're looking for work.

Not applying for a job you'd be a good fit for

A survey of 1,000 American men and women asked job-seekers why they declined to apply for a job for which they didn't meet 100% of the listed qualification requirements. A total of 41% of women and 46% of men said they didn't want to waste time and energy since they didn't think they'd be hired, compared with just 12.4% of men and 9.7% of women who said they didn't apply because they didn't think they could do the job well.

Most hiring managers don't find a candidate who meets every single criteria on their wish list. While you don't want to apply for a job if you have no qualifications for it, missing out on one or two traits the hiring manager asks for isn't necessarily a deal-breaker.

If you think you'd be good at the job and you can write a compelling cover letter and resume to prove it, you may just get the chance to interview and perhaps even get hired -- but you'll never know unless you try.

Sending out a generic resume

When you're applying for lots of positions, it's tempting to send out the same resume and cover letter over and over. But doing so is likely to get your resume tossed right into the garbage.

A CareerBuilder survey found human resources managers and hiring managers typically spend less than a minute reviewing each resume -- but 63% said a resume that's customized to the job is likely to catch their eye and prompt them to review your application more favorably.

To make sure your resume stands out from the crowd, mirror the language from the job ad when describing your skills and leave off irrelevant jobs. A hiring manager should be able to tell at a quick glance that your resume is a response to the job listing and that you've got the knowledge and experience necessary to succeed.

Making typos on your application material

When you're customizing your resume and cover letter, make sure you don't make any mistakes.

An Accountemps survey of 150 senior executives from large U.S. companies revealed that 40% will disqualify a candidate based on a single typo, while 76% wouldn't consider an applicant whose resumes included a typo or two.

Proofreading your own resume is essential, but you may also want to get a friend to look it over with a fresh pair of eyes to see if he or she spots anything you missed. Grammarly, a free grammar and spell-checking app, can also help you identify errors and will make suggestions on corrections so you can get your resume ready to impress.

Failing to send a thank-you note

A recent survey of more than 350 recruiters and hiring managers found one in five interviewers have dismissed a candidate for not sending a thank-you note after an interview.

Although nearly a third of professionals admitted to not following up with a thank you after an interview, 68% of recruiters and hiring managers said sending a note matters and is a factor they'll consider.

Sending a thank-you note is a quick and easy way to deepen your connection with the hiring manager, especially since 94% of hiring managers think an email note is acceptable.

In your note, thank the interviewer for his or her time meeting with you, comment on something you discussed ("I really enjoyed our conversation about sales techniques"), and reiterate with a brief statement about why you think you'd be a great fit for the position.

Failing to negotiate your salary

According to a Jobvite survey of more than 2,000 workers, just 29% of employees negotiated their salary when they were hired. Among those who did negotiate, 84% got a better offer. One out of five of the workers whose offers were improved ended up with a salary that was 11% to 20% higher than what they'd originally been offered.

Failing to negotiate your salary could cost you thousands over your career, especially since raises you receive later on typically use your current salary as a benchmark. While it may seem uncomfortable, most employers expect you to bargain and leave room for negotiation.

You can use sites like Glassdoor, PayScale, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics to collect information on what you should be making and prepare a solid argument for why you deserve a higher salary. If the employer isn't willing to budge on pay, try for an incentive-based bonus or ask for other benefits such as flexible workdays, better insurance coverage, or more vacation time.

Now's a great time to look for a job

The good news if you're a job seeker is the economy is strong, unemployment is low, and you should have plenty of opportunity to find a new position and boost your income. Now that you know the top mistakes to avoid, the process should go a whole lot easier.

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