These 5 Mistakes Could be Keeping You From Getting That Interview

John Krautzel
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No one ever vanquished an obstacle by trying the same failing strategy over and over again. If your job search isn't yielding interviews, re-examine your methods and weed out the mistakes holding you back. A job search isn't a linear path with fixed progress markers. Instead of relying on tedious, repetitive tasks to achieve your goal, use your creativity and networking skills to sow opportunities that may grow into your next great job.

1. Applying for Jobs Online

Hiring managers don't want to hunt through hundreds of applications to find a handful of desirable candidates, which is why they prefer to get solid leads from referrals. Stop depending on online job portals, and find ways to connect one-on-one with professionals in your industry. LinkedIn and company websites are beneficial resources for identifying managers at target businesses who may have unadvertised positions. Ask yourself what problems you can solve for them, and send letters directly to hiring managers to make an introduction and sell your skills.

2. Hiding Your Goals

Whether you're currently employed or simply don't want to bother your friends, being secretive about your job search prevents you from getting strong referrals. In many cases, friends, family and former co-workers are even more perceptive of your strengths and skills than you are, making them the perfect cheerleaders to sing your praises to others and alert you to compatible job openings.

3. Using General Cover Letters

Even if you think you did a decent job of varying your language, hiring managers can spot a generic template cover letter. By reusing the same standardized message, you sacrifice a valuable chance to persuade hiring managers you're worthy of an interview. You are different from every other candidate, so use the job description, information about the company and your unique work history to create a compelling hook highlighting your personality and credibility.

4. Job Hunting With No Plan

Competing for interviews is significantly harder when there's no strategy guiding your job search. Setting mini goals and keeping track of your job search activity can help you concentrate your efforts in the right places. For instance, if you aren't getting callbacks from online applications, commit to researching and connecting with two to three influential people each week. Once you make contact with professionals who have experience in the job you want, set a goal to request informational interviews or ask for introductions to other company leaders.

5. Overlooking Inconsistencies

Presenting an inconsistent work history makes you appear dishonest, reducing your chances of being contacted for an interview. Recruitment is increasingly happening online, so your personal website, resumes and profiles have to deliver a cohesive story about your background. Make sure your titles and years of experience are uniform across the board. After all, you don't want to confuse recruiters by being listed as a customer service representative on one profile and a district manager on the other. Periodically review your online presence, and add regular updates as you gain new projects, clients, promotions or volunteering experience.

Mistakes and missteps are common in a job search, but you can navigate around any hurdle by rethinking your approach. Despite the ineffectiveness of the wait-and-see method, most candidates are still using a passive strategy. Set yourself apart and get more interviews by asking for what you want.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Matthew B thanks for your comment. Job boards are not going anywhere. If anything, new ones go live all of the time. Even though many job seekers scoff at job boards, they do work. Any position I have found over the past 10-15 years has been on a job board. You, too, are living proof that they work as you have gotten interviews. Of course there is the issue of many lower paying jobs posted on job boards. You just have to sift through them until you find the ones that fit your needs. All the best.

  • Matthew B.
    Matthew B.

    Looking for jobs online is a necessary step that saves countless hours, mileage and postage. I agree that it is best to connect directly to managers/owners via their own Web sites, and to personalize your application. But for what it's worth, tossing my resume onto job search boards has yielded numerous phone calls and a few interviews. Job boards put the job of sifting onto the job seeker, since many of them are stuffed with inappropriate or low-paying positions.

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