16 Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Job Search

bored woman in front of computer
Are you wondering why your job search has been fruitless? | iStock.com/anyaberkut

You’ve been continuously submitting resumes like Donald Trump sends tweets. Yet the responses to your applications are minimal — or nonexistent. What gives? Maybe you’re new to the workforce. Or you’ve been out of it for a while and feel a bit unsure about how to get your feet wet again.
These days, it’s not enough to cling to conventional basics. When it comes to the job search, you must think outside the box. But there are many ways to make and break your career prospects. And as it turns out, it’s pretty easy to derail your success just by being blatantly unaware of your mistakes. Any one of these small errors can have a big impact on your future. That’s why we’re delving into 16 ways you’re sabotaging your own job search, so you can start putting your best foot forward today.

1. You sent your resume in a Word document

Submitting your resume in a .doc format can hinder your career success. PDFs, rather than Word documents, are able to lock essential resume formatting preferences in place, even if they’re read from a phone. And let’s be honest. Who doesn’t check emails on their phones these days? In addition, PDFs can’t be edited or tampered with as they go through various email chains, which is good for your carefully crafted resume.
Recruiter Julie Zollo writes on LinkedIn she gives preferential treatment to applicants who submit a PDF resume verses a .doc resume because it suggests an extra bit of tech savvy and demonstrates a willingness to go the extra mile.
Next: Startling social media statistics

2. You don’t have social media

A set of programs from famous brands of social networking
No presence on social media will work against you. | iStock.com/Prykhodov

Opening your life to Big Brother, at least professionally, can benefit your career. A CareerBuilder survey found 60% of employers creep on applicants’ social profiles. In fact, the number of employers using social media to screen potential employees has increased by 500% in the past 10 years.
Knowing these metrics, why would you not create at least one social media profile to better your chances? Facebook and Instagram accounts aren’t necessary, but a LinkedIn profile would be wise. Those who aren’t on LinkedIn in 2017 could be considered out-of-touch by tech savvy recruiters.
Next: See what really turns off employers.

3. Your social media is inappropriate

Donald Trump at a press conference
Those inappropriate social posts will disqualify you with many top employers. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

On the other hand, an unprofessional social presence is career suicide. Those overly political posts, flippant racial remarks, or pictures of you at the beach bar last weekend will certainly work against you during the job search. The top pieces of social content likely to send a recruiter running for the hills, according to CareerBuilder, are:

  • Provocative or inappropriate photographs, videos, or information
  • Information about candidate drinking or using drugs
  • Discriminatory comments related to race, religion, gender, etc.
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous company or fellow employee
  • Poor communication skills

Next: If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out on job opportunities.

4. You’re not a loyal fan

soccer fan
Be as passionate about potential companies as you are about soccer. | Scott Olson/Getty Images

Maybe you have social media accounts, but you’re using them in the wrong way. Social media loses its influence if no one knows who you are. So target a company you’d like to work for one day, and consistently engage with them online.
Now, this is not your cue to stalk their pages and employees. That’s a direct route to career sabotage. Instead, try to retweet relevant company posts, tag the company in your own posts, and interact with other employees. Then, when the company is looking to expand, you’re already a familiar (virtual) face to its team.
Next: Why you should consider an online resume

5. You’re foregoing multimedia resumes

businessman working with generic design
Consider using an online resume to boost your job search chances. | iStock.com/Pinkypills

With entrepreneurship and e-commerce businesses on the rise, online websites and portfolios have become the norm for many. So why can’t that apply to resumes, too? Certain industries, such as graphic design, writing, marketing and advertising, and public speaking, already use online portfolios to supplement traditional resumes. So if your industry could support it, consider creating one for yourself.
Platforms, such as WordPress, SquareSpace, or Wix, can all be quick solutions for online resumes. Allowing a recruiter to interactively scroll through your resume rather than read a piece of paper is just another way to promote your professional prowess.
Next: Don’t follow your passion.

6. You’re only following your passion

woman, business, office, work, job, frustrated, upset, sad, failure
Don’t always follow your passion. | Thinkstock

Some of the most common work advice on the internet states you must “follow your passion” and “do what you love.” Well that’s all well and good, but sometimes to get where you really want to be in life, you have to kiss a few frogs — so to speak. Not every job will be your dream job. And many successful people will tell you they started at the bottom before working their way into a rewarding career they love. Don’t discredit certain job postings because they don’t meet all your criteria off the bat. Who knows where they could take you?
Next: You didn’t make friends with the administrative assistant.

7. You forgot the administrative assistant

businesswoman shopping online at desk in the office
We often forget how influential administrators can be to our job search success. | iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia

Yes, you need to make a connection with your hiring team, but let’s not forget about other key players. We often forget just how influential an administrative assistant can be during the application process. Whether they were the first to reach out about scheduling an interview or will actually sit in on the meeting, forming a lasting impression with the assistant can go a long way. After all, they’re usually who knows the manager’s schedules, interests, preferences, and responsibilities best.
Next: Why not getting personal will hurt your career

8. You’re not personalizing conversations

woman talking on phone
Lack of personal touches will discredit you as an employee. | iStock.com

Your job search will quickly turn stale if you don’t take the time to personalize your conversations with the hiring team. All it takes is an extra few minutes to do this. A standard message about your professional background with no customization will only hinder your chances for an interview.
Business Insider reports Kathryn Minshew, founder of popular career site The Muse, personally hired her director of marketing solely because of his cold email outreach via LinkedIn. Taking the time to connect with a person in a meaningful way will set you apart from other applicants.
Next: Have you been using LinkedIn wrong, too?

9. You’re using LinkedIn all wrong

logo for LinkedIn
Make sure you’re using LinkedIn the right way. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman confessed to Business Insider many of LinkedIn’s subscribers use the site all wrong. The networking platform is meant to create a closed network of meaningful connections. But in order for that circle to have any inherent value, every connection request received must be vetted.
Long gone are the days where we blindly accept everyone’s invitation to connect. Instead, we should determine whether we feel comfortable introducing that person to our own professional circle. And if the answer is no, don’t hesitate to decline the invitation.
Next: How to know when to apply for a job and when to avoid it

10. Mass applying to countless job postings

woman, office, business, work, job, sad, depression, pessimism, alone, lonely, employment
Know when to apply for a job and when to avoid it. | Thinkstock

Not only is it unwise to apply for a job the second it’s posted, it’s also foolish to disperse 100 job applications in one week. Take the time to thoroughly research the company, and double check you truly meet at least 75% of the job’s requirements before submitting an application. If you skip this critical step, you’ll waste both your time and the company’s time. Not to mention, you’ll ruin your chances for any future job openings that better suit your background.
Next: This is why you were not offered the job.

11. Delaying the job interview

man on phone
Delaying the interview could mean giving up your spot permanently. | NBC

Companies hire new employees for two reasons. One, they have certain tasks and responsibilities imperative to company success that can be morphed into a new position. Two, there’s an immediate opening in a prominent position that needs filled. Either way, they’re likely in a rush to hire.
Therefore, it would bode well for a prospective employee to interview as fast as they can to help keep the process moving. If you decide to schedule an interview for “early next week,” you’re giving HR the green light to continue its search with another candidate, tarnishing your ability to make the first impression.
Next: Are you even listening to what I’m saying?

12. You’re not listening

two people talking
Listen to your interviewer. | iStock.com

Job seekers often get so caught up in proving their worth to hiring managers that they forget basic communication skills. The quickest way to sabotage your job search is failing to listen during interviews.
If you put yourself in the interviewer’s shoes, you’d realize they’re going to see hundreds of resumes and ask multiple people the same questions they’re asking you. So forced answers and practiced small talk gets old quickly. By truly listening to what the interviewer has to say, you better your odds for a warm, engaging, and effective conversation.
Next: The resume black hole

13. Relying on 1 application method

Man applying for job on internet with coffee on table
Beware of the resume black hole. | iStock.com/Rawpixel

Online application portals can be like resume black holes for highly sought-after positions. Therefore, relying solely on that single method is risky. Try to find other ways to get your resume in front of the right eyes. For teachers, that could mean personally introducing yourself to the principle at the local high school. The closer you get to whoever makes hiring decisions the better. Again, be mindful of certain stalking tendencies, but know to succeed you’ll need to make things happen on your own.
Next: You avoided networking opportunities.

14. You’re not proactively seeking networking opportunities

People at casual catering discussion meeting
Avoiding networking opportunities will be detrimental to your career. | iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd

“Shoot me your resume, and I’ll give it to a guy I know.” Wouldn’t we all love that kind of networking assist? Without engaging in proactive networking, you are severely limiting your opportunities to make a strategic career connection. This can be done by keeping up with former colleagues or attending professional industry conferences.
Next: Do you know the difference between “agreeable” and “spineless”?

15. Appearing wishy-washy in your answers

lazy employee
Don’t be hesitant in your answers. | iStock.com

There’s a fine line between appearing agreeable and spineless in an interview. Yes, you should present a perception of accommodation but not indifference. To avoid sounding wishy-washy in your interview, come up with key points you want to mention ahead of time, and know how you’re going to discuss them in a confident way. Also, settle a clear salary requirement and outline deal breakers in your head, so you can answer with confidence when the time comes.
Next: You stopped learning.

16. Not learning new skills

looking at books
The key to staying relevant in the job search is continuously learning. | Tim Boyle/Getty Images

You will quickly fall by the wayside if you press pause on continuing education. In a world that’s constantly changing, the most competitive employees turn to reading books about the industry and other forms of professional development to stay relevant. If your phone isn’t ringing and your inbox isn’t dinging with interview invites, spend time training your mind and furthering your industry knowledge instead. Then, when you do get the interview, you’re prepared to blow their socks off with your professionalism.
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.