Great Resumes Fast » Job Search » Job Search Mistakes That Will Keep You Unemployed

Today’s guest article discusses 3 job search mistakes by former recruiter David Alan Carter.

Everyone makes mistakes. That’s just part of being human. But if you’re in between jobs, you can ill afford too many of them. One little mistake here or there, and your job search can be set back weeks if not months. So, what are some of the typical mistakes that are made in a job search? Here are my top three…

Fuzzy Goals

If you’re stumbling out of the house in the morning with the objective of “getting a job,” good luck with that. In the aftermath of the worst recession in 50 years, this is an economy that will chew up and spit out those job seekers without a clear career objective and a plan to achieve it. Why? Largely, it’s the sheer number of applicants for available positions; they’re simply overwhelming recruiters and hiring officials. Weeding out those applicants who “just want a job” is the first order of priority for those overtaxed employers.

Take some time to identify the position you want, and the company or companies that are capable of offering that opportunity. It’s a new world order out there, and those who know what they want and focus their job search like a laser are more likely to get what they want.

A General Resume

Forget the illusion that a general resume allows you to apply to a variety of job opportunities. In reality, a general resume simply helps you get rejected from a number of job opportunities. As mention above in “fuzzy goals,” recruiters and hiring officials are overwhelmed by the sheer number of resumes coming in daily. When they’ve got an opening, it’s a title with a real specific set of duties and responsibilities. If your resume doesn’t demonstrate job goals and qualifications in keeping with that title, you’re out.

Employers today don’t have the time or inclination to wonder if your stated objective, “A challenging position with a progressive corporation…” really means, “Senior Buyer with a national apparel retailer that could benefit from an impressive, 10-year history of contribution to comparable store sales and gross margin improvement.” If the employer needs to fill a position for a buyer and is left staring the above two objective statements, guess which resume gets the call and which one gets the boot?

Target your resume to a specific job opening or a narrow range of potential openings. While that might mean tweaking the document seemingly every time you turn around, it beats the alternative: a single “general” resume generating zero phone calls.

Wasting Your Days On Internet Job Boards

Yes, there are jobs listed on job boards. And there’s the siren call. The problem is, some of those jobs are out of date, and many others are increasingly ‘generic’ jobs (that don’t necessarily exist) posted by employment agencies or recruiters trolling for candidates to represent. While the latter isn’t necessarily a bad thing (assuming you don’t mind being deceived), the end result is one more person standing between you and a hiring official. Finally, even when the listings are legitimate and timely, there are thousands of candidates responding to every job listing. It’s a crap shoot at best, with success rates of landing jobs running at about 2-4%. Compare that to a success rate of over 60% for ‘word-of-mouth’ referrals.

Post your resume to a couple of job boards if you must, or schedule a very limited time every few days to peruse the latest listings. If you see an interesting job pop up on a job board, use the listing information as a springboard to pursue the opening directly through the company’s website, or via your growing contacts in the industry.

Personal, one-on-one contact with decision makers, movers and shakers is time better spent that will improve your odds the most in landing your next job. Limit your time on the internet in general, and on job boards in particular, or run the risk of being consumed day and night with nothing to show for your job search but bloodshot eyes.

In addition to providing help with resume writing, former recruiter David Alan Carter has put together Resume Writing Service Reviews of 10 of the Web’s most popular writers at the website, reviewing quality of workmanship, spelling out their pricing, and giving each a star ranking. (Note: David’s “Top Pick” actually guarantees interviews.)


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About the author

Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast

Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.

What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.

You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!

I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!


  1. Elaina on August 24, 2010 at 8:34 am

    I agree, especially with #3. Someone I know was laid off only a few weeks ago and is already on her third interview with a company in her field; she cold-called companies and
    told them what she had to offer.

  2. […] the illusion that a general resume allows you to apply to a variety of job opportunities. In reality, a general resume simply helps […]

  3. Linda on August 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Sometimes the truth hurts. You are right on here. Today it isn’t what you know, it’s who you know! I’ve got an MBA in marketing and looking for a marketing job. NO INTERVIEWS from the job boards. Network and market yourself in every way you can. Just started a marketing campaign for a friend to get the word out about what she does and what she can do for your company. Thanks for writing

  4. William Bruce on August 9, 2012 at 9:38 am

    As a Career Specialist and Job Coach it still baffles me that the job seekers haven’t caught on to the three areas you addressed. Not knowing where they want to go is certain to get them nowhere in particular, and the roadmap (resume) they use to get there is akin to using a map prior to the interstate system. Job boards can be helpful in research but they are not the answer but folks still feel that hours spent surfing the net is the way to go. They keep busy but they don’t work smart and as a result they get frustrated when their efforts are not acknowledeged or fruitful. Keep pushing anyone you know who is out of work, including yourself, to get focus – set goals and have a job search plan – then get out and network, network, network with people whom you can help and who can help you.

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