Common Mistakes Job Hunters Make — take two

As we continue our discussion on Your Career about how to avoid making mistakes during your job search, let’s reframe the word “mistake.” The dictionary defines mistake as something misguided or wrong. So mistakes can be corrected—often, right on the spot.

A common mistake made during your job hunt, particularly during an interview, is not always a deal killer. Whenever mistakes are made at an interview, negative reinforcement—behavior that’s strengthened by stopping it— prevents you from making the same mistake again.

Everybody makes mistakes. In fact, you can’t avoid making them. The way goals are achieved is by overcoming mistakes that are inevitable along the way and benefiting from them. Irish novelist Oscar Wilde put it this way: “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”

Yet you’re afraid to make a mistake because of the way you were brought up. You were punished for making the slightest gaffe. You were taught to think it’s wrong to make mistakes.

Your socialization impacts your job, your career, and your job hunt. Whenever you feel constrained while interviewing, hesitate to send out letters, or to do networking, it’s because you fear making a mistake.

Fear not. By reframing the word “mistake,” in the second paragraph of this post, you learned that mistakes are experiences that help you learn and grow and succeed. From that viewpoint, there are no mistakes. Only learning experiences.

A common mistake made by job candidates and what you can do to correct it

That mistake is applying for the wrong job. This happens when you post for a job thinking, “this job looks interesting and I’d love to do it” without taking into consideration whether or not you’re experienced doing it or even if your skills match the job description.

When you apply for jobs willy-nilly, you’re not taking your own skill set into consideration. You’re looking at the job market through rose-colored glasses. That means seeing things that seem better than they really are.

While I advise my job finding clients to be creative when applying for a job, they still need to target their applications to the job in order to be sure there’s a good fit.

How to target your application to the job in question

When you submit resumes like crazy, potential employers toss them out for a couple of reasons. They don’t have time to read unsolicited resumes. And employers get the impression you’re too anxious to find a job. And when you fail to tailor a cover letter to the position you’re seeking, it’s a signal to the employer that you’re applying for just any job at all.

While it’s fine to have a boilerplate letter on hand, you need to alter it for each job your applying for in order to have a personalized cover letter to accompany each resume you submit. When writing a targeted cover letter, match your skills and experience to the job’s specifications.

RANDY PLACE is the author of “Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.” Learn how to find a job and manage your career in easy to understand one-minute coaching vignettes. Click here to order.

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.