7 Deadly Job Search Mistakes (and How to Avoid Them)


You have been actively looking all over for a new job. But regardless of your efforts, you can’t seem to land one. Pressure starts kicking in and constant rejections begin to shake your confidence. You start asking yourself why.

Unbeknownst to you, you could be guilty of committing one or more (or in worst case, all) of the seven deadly sins of job searching.

These deadly sins will keep you in unemployment hell if you’re not self-aware enough to avoid them. Knowing which of these crucial mistakes to evade can go a long way in helping you secure the job you intend.

Envy – Jealously Over Other’s Job Success

As the saying goes ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ You may see your colleague in a seemingly aspirational role, reaping benefits from exciting projects, a lucrative income and hefty bonus. It is tempting to compare yourself to them and find your own career lacking.

It’s a significant waste of effort to focus on other people’s career successes. Your job search will be more productive if you focus on yourself.

Instead of worrying about what your colleagues are doing, redirect your efforts in identifying ways to enhance your resume, obtain additional qualifications, and establishing connections with individuals who can help you get accepted in the roles you seek.

The remedy: Deliberate about what you love or don’t love about your current role before you consider leaving. Weigh the pros and cons of staying on before coming up with a definitive conclusion that a different job would satisfy your desires.

Sloth – Slaking in Your Job Search

Don’t expect jobs to come your way if you are lazy with your job hunt. Some individuals are fortunate to be scouted for a job that represents a great fit with their qualifications, background and career aspirations, but this is not the case for majority of job hunters.

The remedy: It is extremely important to stay abreast of relevant websites, regularly reach out to your recruitment agent, refresh your LinkedIn page, and research target companies and sectors to arm yourself for the all-important interview.

Reach out to make new relationships and work on sharpening your skills or obtain new ones to prevent intellectual stagnation.

It’s also equally important to customise your resume for each job application to boost your probabilities of landing the interview and ultimately securing the job.

Below are the three simple adjustments you can apply to tweak your master resume in order to get the maximum relevance to the advertised job:

  • Match your resume title with the job title you are applying for. For instance, for an IT professional applying for Software Developer role, resume header should read as ‘Software Developer.’
  • Modify your skills to match the terms used in the job advertisement. Match the language in your resume with the language used in the job description. For instance, if the job description states: ‘Advanced knowledge of Microsoft Applications,’ do not write ‘Proficiency in MS Office Suite’ in your resume.
  • Since some employers are sensitive to location of the job candidate relative to the job location, make sure to include your current location at the top of your resume (or your future location, if you plan to relocate). By incorporating a location that fits with the employer’s conditions, you are confirming that you could be a good match.

Lust – Unexplained Zealousness in the Wrong Job

Your ‘dream’ job is now available, you’ve formulated a compelling resume and have distributed it to appropriate contacts, but now all you hear are the crickets chirping!

It can be that you are lusting for a highly desirable job but are not yet qualified for.

In reality, you should meet at least 90% of the criteria enumerated in the job advertisement before taking the first step to apply for it. If you fail to meet this minimum requirement, you are likely chasing after a role that is a not a good fit for you.

Assertively aspiring for this ‘dream’ job doesn’t reflect your determination. Rather, you may come across as a poor listener and somewhat desperate. Maybe it’s about time to quickly assess whether pursuing this job is for your best interest.

The remedy: If you have a burning desire to land a certain position, start working on obtaining the additional education, experience and certification requirements.

While still employed in your current organisation, capitalise on opportunities to learn the essential functions of your ‘dream’ career. Your supervisor will definitely value your initiative to learn new skills while also dramatically improving your marketability.

Gluttony – Focusing on Quantity Rather Than Quality

Are you amongst those job seekers who think that ‘more is better’? Hence, you start submitting your resume to every job board and company website and work with multiple recruiters regarding various opportunities.

You submit your resume to numerous job openings ignoring the list of qualifications, yet somehow you fervently hope that you’ll get lucky.

The reality is, more is not better when it comes to job search. If you treat your job search like a game of luck instead of a professional application process, you are hurting your chances of getting employed.

The Remedy: Before blasting your resume to each and every single job there is on earth, prepare a list of your skills, knowledge, abilities and experience. Then short-list companies you would like to work for.

Take time to get to know these companies and research the roles in these organisations that you are qualified for. The optimal approach is to determine the key people in these companies accountable for hiring these functions and start networking with them.

Alternatively, methodically select up to two recruiters who have the expertise in the specific sector and exclusively work with them.

Wrath – Burning Bridges with Current or Previous Employers

Do you hate your manager? Are you angry because you were passed over for a promotion? Do you feel unappreciated in your existing role?

Sometimes, these feelings are beneficial as they give you the extra push to pursue your next best career move.

Though in most cases, you have to put all your negativity aside during your job hunt, as this is not the venue to exact your anger. Recruiters and hiring managers do not need to know the root cause of your wrath toward your current or previous employers during the interview process.

In those situations, all they see is an applicant who will likely trash their company in the same manner next year.

The Remedy: Put a positive spin on why you are looking at the position. Speak in positive terms about what the particular opportunity can do for your career in the long term.

Put on a happy face when interacting with others. When your inspiration for making a job change is triggered by feelings of anger, wrath or fury, you need to keep that to yourself.

Greed – Excessive Demands and Salary Expectations

Towards the end of the job search process is salary negotiation where the most fatal error is focusing on what you feel you deserve rather than on the value you will likely to bring to the potential employer.

In reality, employers care less if your salary wouldn’t cover your mortgage, student loan payments or even your daily lifestyle.

The Remedy: If ever you intend to negotiate a job offer, do it based on extensive research and a clear demonstration of your value to the company. Conduct a salary research and investigate at what folks in your position and industry make at other companies.

Instead of telling an employer your salary requirement, highlight your credentials and show quantifiable evidence of what someone with your breath of experience typically earns.

Remember that money is not everything. Don’t just be enticed by salary when looking for a new job. Ensure it is the role itself that appeals and one that you feel, in your heart, that you could assume and love. Consider other perks like career development, work-life balance and the level of autonomy.

Pride – Resisting from Asking Help to Protect a Deep-Held Pride

So you used to hold a high-ranking position in your old company or were a big shot in school? You need to get over it. You certainly don’t want to come across as needy when searching for a job. Though this doesn’t mean you should not ask for referrals or even ask around for new opportunities.

As the most serious of all the deadly sins, pride can be the demise of many job seekers.

There are several job seekers who have been out of the workforce for quite some time and still haven’t told their friends, relatives or former colleagues that they are in transitions. It is pride that’s hampering their job hunt since individuals who could possible give a helping hand are not aware of their circumstance.

All the admirable efforts spent during the job search process are also often wasted by failing to follow up. Due to fear of possible rejection, the act of calling for feedback becomes too bitter a pill to swallow for some applicants.

By not following up with the recruiters, candidates are likely to forego the opportunity of receiving constructive information to improve their chances of success in succeeding job searches.

Additionally, an unsuccessfully applicant who fails to promptly follow-through is quickly expunged from the recruiter’s mind, whereas those who seek feedback sustain the relationship for possible future utilisation.

The Remedy: Move out of your comfort zone by networking extensively, following up on your job applications and seeking guidance from people who can add value. Reach out and give your network an opportunity to help you.

This post was originally published on (15 April 2017) and updated on (10 October 2019).

The 7 Deadly Sins of Job Search and How to Avoid Them