8 Ways You Are Sabotaging Your Job Search

By Lisa Frank

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You so are eager to find a new job, but you can’t seem to get anywhere with your search.

Could it be you? Are you getting in your own way of landing your dream job?

Here are eight ways that candidates sabotage their own job searches – do any of these sound familiar?


You Say “No” Too Quickly: If it doesn’t sound perfect on paper, you don’t want to waste anyone’s time, right? Wrong. If you are truly open to new opportunities, then be open. Stop finding excuses. Entertain conversations. Go on some interviews. Listen to recruiters. Sure, you might have some strange meetings or have days where you feel like you’re spinning your wheels. But, I promise, you’ll be surprised at what will come your way when you start saying “yes” more often.

You Have Unrealistic Expectations: We know you’re great. You graduated from a top school. You’ve been operating at two levels above your current one for years. You’ve recently turned down a bunch of offers from big companies. The president of the firm loves you. All might be true… but, I’ve got news for you: your five summer internships don’t translate to 5-7 years of work experience. Just because you graduated college doesn’t mean that you should come into a role at a manager level. And, if you’ve been doing vice president level work for three years, how come you haven’t been up for promotion at all? Everyone starts somewhere and we all have to earn our stripes. Aim high, but keep it real. Future employers aren’t responsible for your college loans or your rent, nor should they be expected to pay for the sins of your past employers. You might be stellar, but companies still have ranges and limits – and they aren’t afraid to pass on top candidates who have outrageous demands.

Your Presentation is Sloppy: Do you have misspelled words in your resume? Is your LinkedIn profile picture of you holding a beer on a beach or showing off your assets in that low-cut dress? Is your cover letter free of grammatical errors, and is it addressed to the correct person/company. Better yet, did you even submit a cover letter with your resume? This is no joke. I’ve seen it all. Before you even step foot in the door for an in-person interview, you will be judged by your online profiles, resumes and writing samples. If you are serious about a job search, make the time to proofread your application materials and clean up your online presence. It will make a world of difference.

You Are Too Cocky: You are so well-qualified (and just generally pretty amazing), that you are pretty confident that you have the job before you even have the interview. Yeah, nobody really likes that. Healthy confidence is attractive, arrogance is usually a big deal breaker. Check your overblown ego at the door and bring your humility with you to the interview. Share actual examples of relevant experience and sell yourself on your merits. Be someone you would want to work with, not the person you talk about at the water cooler.

You Are Focused on the Wrong Things: Vacation time, sick days, flexible work from home schedules, summer hours, and if there are any good restaurants nearby for lunch. If you are asking about any of these during a first interview, or using these as criteria to turn down initial meetings or potential opportunities, you might want to re-evaluate your search filters. Employers are looking for candidates who actually want to work for them. They will see right through you if you are more concerned about how you can get out of the office, rather than how you will make an impact while you’re there.

You Listen Too Much To Others: Your dad said that you should ask for a 50% salary increase because you are underpaid. Your best friend said you should play hard to get – “if they really want you they’ll do anything to get you.” Your spouse said that you should turn down the offer because there won’t be enough work-life balance. The Glassdoor reviews (by a former employee) said that it’s a demanding place to work and they wouldn’t recommend the company. So, what do YOU think? Do you have enough information to actually make a decision? Do these “advisors” know the companies you are applying/talking to? Furthermore, do your friends and relatives even know anything about your industry? Mentors and sounding boards are great – just make sure they are knowledgeable and objective.

You Don’t Know What You Want: You just need a job and you’re open to anything, right? So, you’ll clean toilets, get your boss’ coffee and work the graveyard shift? See, you aren’t open to anything. Take a moment, stop randomly applying to every new post you see on CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed and Craigslist, and get some focus. Once you hone in on an industry or two, you’re sure to start making some real headway.

You Just Aren’t That Into It: Job searching is a real commitment. If you don’t put much into it, you won’t get much out. If you really want something new, show it. Be proactive. Be persistent. Be present.

Frankly Speaking: There are a lot of great opportunities out there for job-seekers today. Figure out what you want and go after it. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, abilities and priorities. Listen to your own intuition. Be selective, but not too picky. Ask for what you want, but know your industry and be reasonable. Don’t let your pride get in your way, and find a place where you can learn, grow, take on new challenges and be recognized for your hard work.

Lisa Frank is the founder of LBF Recruitment Strategies. As an executive recruiter, connector and career/life coach she offers a "Frank" approach to all aspects of life. Her blog, Frankly Speaking shares her insights, guidance and outrageous (but true) stories about career and life topics with plenty of humor, relatability, experience and candor.

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