The 7 Deadly Job Search Sins

If you’re looking for a job in this current climate, the bad news is that you have a lot of competition.

The good news is that most of them have no idea what they’re doing.

I meet a lot of job seekers during the course of my work as a professional resume writer. From executives to entry-level, I see the same mistakes over and over again. And the people making these mistakes have no clue that they could be doing better.

So how about you? Are you committing any of these sins?

1. You Have No Idea Where You’re Going

The old saying is true, If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.

At least once a day, I turn away a potential resume client because he or she doesn’t know where they’re going. To write a resume and start a job search without any sense of direction is to simply waste time.

By the way, it’s OK to have several very different career targets. It’s just not OK to start out without knowing where you’re going.

If you need more help at this stage, check out Nicholas Lore’s book Pathfinder, or work with a professional coach such as The Rockport Institute, Pathfinders or The Reinvention Institute.

2. Your Resume Is Boring

I’m going to be honest. Most people are horrible at resume writing. I don’t know whether you are one of them or not, but the odds are not great.

When I started my business 7 years ago, I made a vow that I would never sell services to someone who honestly didn’t need them. Ethics are very important to me.

Well, all these years later and I would say I have turned away maybe 50 people. The rest badly needed my help.

I am not saying this to sell you on Blue Sky’s resume writing services. I am saying it because it’s true. If you\’re not getting a response to your resume, then it’s not good enough. Period. End of story.

Either work with a professional (see our recommended writers here) or do some serious home study on how to write a great resume. We actually offer a free course and you’re welcome to sign up here.

3. You Haven’t Built a Strong Web Presence

What happens when someone googles your name? What do they find?

Google my name (Louise Fletcher) and you’ll see that I compete with a famous actress for page 1 space on Google. Despite this, I have made it onto page 1 with my Twitter feed and also by creating a Google profile, which appears at the bottom of the page when my name is searched.

If you don’t share your name with a famous person, you can do even better.

There are a ton of free websites that allow you to establish yourself online and promote your professional knowledge completely free of charge. Not using them is insane!

To create static profiles, start with LinkedIn (more on this next), ZoomInfo, Google and Facebook.

To promote your knowledge of your subject area, sign up for Twitter, start a blog, or create Squidoo pages on your area of expertise.

Job search is not what it used to be and if you’re not using these tools, you\’re not playing the game.

4. You’re Not Active on LinkedIn

I ask all my clients for their Linkedin URL when we start working together. I would say that 10% of them have a fully completed, active profile.

40% have created a profile, but have not completed it properly.

50% are not even on there.


LinkedIn is a free network of highly influential professionals. It super charges your networking capabilities. If you\’re not on there and active, you are definitely not in the game.

More on why you need to be on LinkedIn here. And here are my tips for creating a profile.

5. You’re Not Networking

Many people shy away from networking because they imagine it to be a difficult and awkward process. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What’s more, networking is without a doubt, the #1 best strategy for finding your next job. Everyone feels more comfortable with a referral and employers are no different. If one of their current employees hands over your resume, you are much more likely to wind up with the job than if you applied online.

If you’re not networking right now, check out our coach Barbara Safani’s article 7 Rules for Networking Success or if you are really lost, contact us for in-person coaching.

The single best thing you can do for your job search is to start networking today.

6. You Have Not Sent Your Resume to Tons of Recruiters

Before I ran my own business, I worked in Human Resources. I obtained each of my last three positions through recruiters and interviewed for quite a few more opportunities as a result of my recruiter relationships.

If someone can refer you to recruiters in your field, that’s great. As I said before, everyone likes a referral. But that may not be possible and in that case, you will need to contact them cold. The key to success is:

a) Target recruiters carefully, contacting only those who work in your field or industry (this is a great tool to research and contact recruiters).

b) Make sure your resume shows exactly how you will add value in your next job.

c) Contact lots of recruiters because most of them won’t be recruiting for a suitable vacancy right at that time. You need to find the 5 or 6 who are.

Recruiters hold the key to a great number of excellent vacancies so getting on their radar screen is crucial.

7. You’re Following the Rules

This is a bad habit to get into.

When you’re applying for a vacancy, don’t apply the same way everyone else does and then leave it at that.

Follow the instructions, sure.

There’s always a slim chance that your resume won’t disappear into a vast database never to be seen again.

But then take it further. Start doing some research to find out the name of the hiring manager or other senior people within the company.

Then use your network (including LinkedIn and Twitter) to make contact. Or send a creative job application directly. Or call them. Or come up with any one of 100 different ways to stand out.

Just don’t, whatever you do, follow the rules.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to look for a job, you can start reading my e-book, The Blue Sky Guide to Job Search, for free. I shared all my secrets in this book – it’s like having me walk you through the job search process step-by-step.

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