about them here so you can avoid making them yourself. This is not
a hopeless cause! Don't be discouraged! Just pay attention, and
be careful. Millions of people find jobs every year, and so will
The "Dirty Dozen"
- Posting your resume
without worrying about privacy.
Protect your identity and your existing job, if you are employed, by limiting
access to your contact information (name, address, and phone number). Many employers do search for their employees' resumes in the job site resume/applicant
database and/or the search engines. Those employees' jobs are at risk when
their resumes are found!
According to the FBI, identity theft is the top Internet fraud. Millions of
resumes complete with name, address, and home phone number make it easy!
Yes, suppressing your contact information may make you a bit more difficult
to contact, but
it's a trade-off. Some recruiters view it as a positive sign that the job
seeker is Internet-savvy and/or has a good job to protect. Other recruiters
are annoyed. Many won't care as long as there is some method to reach you
through the job site or an anonymous personal email account (like Yahoo or
[See Protecting Your Privacy and Choosing
a Job Site for detailed information on how to conduct your online job
search safely. We strongly recommend "Cyber-Safe
Resumes" for your online job search.]
- Using only the big
name Web job sites.
Many of the "big names" are great sites, but they can also be
expensive for employers to use and not attractive to some specialized groups
of job seekers. So, in tight budgetary times, employers save money using smaller,
less expensive sites or "niche" sites that may have exactly the
applicants they want, like an industry- or location-specific job site or even
the Web site of a professional or industry association. See Finding
Jobs Online for help identifying other places to look.
- Using the "fire-ready-aim"
method of distributing your resume.
Posting your resume at hundreds of job sites or "blasting" it
to hundreds or thousands of recruiters and employers is a self-defeating strategy.
You won't be able to customize it for a specific employer or opportunity,
which reduces your chances of being called. And, you won't be able to follow
up the resume with a phone call or an e-mail to establish contact and move
your application forward in the process.
Most recipients of an e-mailed resume probably view it as spam, if it survives
the spam filters (see # 6 below).
In the unlikely event that someone receives your resume who might have been
interested in you, they know that everyone else has a copy of it, too. If
the recipient is an independent recruiter, they will ignore it because they
will know that they'll have a tough time earning a commission on your placement
(an employer may also have received it directly or competing recruiters may
be "shopping" your resume around to the same employers). An employer
probably won't be interested in competing with several other employers.
All of this negatively impacts your "market value."
- Limiting your job
search efforts to the Internet only.
Even if you have a job and can only job hunt at home in your spare time,
don't focus all of your attention online. People are hired by people, so the
Internet is only useful as a way to reach the people with the job opportunities.
Use the Internet as a part of your job search toolkit.
(See the Job-Hunt articles on Using Web Job
Sites and Tapping the Hidden Job Market for some ideas. And, also check out The Riley Guide's Network,
Interview, & Negotiate section as well as JobStar's Hidden
- Applying for jobs
without meeting the minimum qualifications.
It's SO easy just to click on that "apply" button, even if you
don't really qualify for the job, just in case they might see something in
your resume that interests them. But, it's a self-defeating strategy. You
will be training recruiters and employers to ignore you. And, you won't
look very smart, either.
- Depending on e-mail
as your only method of contact.
Spam, defined as unsolicited bulk commercial e-mail, comprises up to 75%
or more of e-mail traffic in mid-2005, and it's become a significant expense
for many companies. The sad truth these days is that most employers have "spam
filter" software screening e-mail before it reaches recipients. Your
messages may look like spam to the filter and be deleted, unread, without
any notice to you (the suspected spammer). So, always follow-up your
e-mail message with a phone call - or, better, call first and ask to
be added to the "friends" list of addresses allowed through the
The Wall Street Journal and CareerJournal.com covered this issue in the
Let Spam Filters Snatch Your Resume." See Job-Hunt's article,
"Avoiding Spam Filters," for
more information on putting together e-mail messages that have a good chance
of making it through the filtering.
- Assuming that you
have privacy with e-mail and Internet use at work.
Again, it may cost
you your job, if you have one, by inappropriately using company assets (the
computer and software you use, even the Internet connection), by violating
the company Internet "acceptable use" policy, and/or simply by revealing
to your employer that you are job hunting.
See CareerJournal.com's July, 2005, article, Privacy
at Work? Don't Count on It, and the San Francisco Chronicle's October,
2004, article on Keeping
track of cyberslackers for examples.
This may apply even if you do your job hunting outside of your normal work
hours, during lunch, or during some other authorized "personal"
In addition, using your company e-mail address won't impress a future employer
with your loyalty or trustworthiness, and, if you do lose your job, you will
lose access to your e-mail address and account. If you don't have personal
Internet access at home, set up a personal account on Yahoo, HotMail, etc.
to keep contact outside of your employer's email system. Don't expect that
you will have privacy using a HotMail or Yahoo account, either, if your employer
monitors your Internet use.
While your employer should publish an email/Internet "acceptable use
policy" to let employees know what is acceptable and what's not, many
do not. However, don't assume that a lack of policy means your employer doesn't
care or isn't watching what you are doing. They may just not be telling you
what they are doing.
- Not leveraging
the extensive Internet research resources to find potential employers or to
stand out from the crowd with a resume and cover letter customized to the
Use the Internet
to identify potential employers, evaluate them, and contact them. Customize
your resume and cover letter based on your research, and then dazzle them
in the interview with your insight into their products and services, their
market, their competitors, etc.
Company Websites, even the bad ones, are fabulous sources of information
about a company. See Job-Hunt's Know
BEFORE You Go (or Apply) article for tips on what you can find on a company
Website and ways to use the information you find. Financial research sites,
PR distribution sites, and even online phone directories are also useful research
resources (see Job-Hunt's Reference category
for more ideas and links).
- Assuming that
e-mail is an informal, private, temporary medium.
You can quickly
sabotage yourself by sending business e-mail using a crazy, cute, or weird
e-mail address (e.g. "email@example.com" or "firstname.lastname@example.org").
Those informal From: addresses undermine your credibility and almost guarantee
a message will be deleted or ignored by a recruiter or employer who doesn't
Be very careful of the content of your messages. Apply The New-York-Times rule before you hit the Send button: would you be comfortable having a potential
employer read your message on the front page of The New York Times (or The Wall Street Journal or your local newspaper)? Or, finding it in
Google tomorrow or 2 years from tomorrow?
I've seen messages sent to e-mailed job search support networks from individuals
looking for advice about a potential employer finding the records of an old
failed drug test or their "sealed" juvenile arrest record! If those
were secrets before the messages were sent, they were definitely not secrets
afterwards. Everyone belonging to the network, typically hundreds of people,
received those messages, probably storing them on their computers. And often
messages published to the network are also archived on the network's Website
(where search engine spiders can find them). So, these people potentially
revealed to the world the secret most damaging to their job search.
An October, 2004, article in The Wall Street Journal and CareerJournal, Recruiters
Use Google to Screen Job Applicants, provides examples of people losing
job opportunities when a potential employer "Googles" them to see
what information about/by them is on the Web. The article points out that
job seekers are frequently their own worst enemies.
For more e-mail "do's and don'ts" and other tips, check out Job-Hunt's Making Email
Work for Your Job Search and Safe
E-Mail and Blogging articles.
- Sending a virus-laden
"surprise" with your e-mailed resume.
message containing a virus is usually quarantined and deleted. It's not viewed!
And, it leaves a very bad impression of the intelligence, computer-skills,
and Internet-savvy of the sender. Buy and use anti-virus software, and keep
it up to date! Microsoft Word documents, a popular format for resumes, are
often virus "carriers," so they are frequently viewed as potential
threats and stopped or deleted without being opened, even if they are apparently
- Expecting someone
else to do the work (the job sites, a recruiter, your outplacement counselor,
A job hunt is
a do-it-yourself project! No one is as invested in your future as you are,
and no one else knows what you want as well as you do. Hire professional help
if you need it - professional help with resumes and/or a job search coach
can be useful for some people, but are not always necessary.
Finding a job is hard work - the Internet didn't make it easier, it made it
When you have identified a position that you want and submitted an online
application, follow up! Contact the employer or recruiter directly yourself,
via telephone as well as regular mail and e-mail. Passive job seekers get
left behind in the current market.
- Forgetting that
a personal resume Web page/portfolio is a business document.
Stick to business-related information that will help, rather than hurt,
your job search. Focus on the skills and accomplishments that are relevant
to job you want.
Demonstrate your writing skills but not in a political diatribe (unless you
want a job as a political commentator). Skip the vacation photos, even if
you look great in your swimming suit (unless you are looking for a job as
a model or photographer). The animated pooping bull or the fluttering butterflies
may amuse your friends, but they probably won't impress many employers unless
those graphics are relevant to the job opportunity you are seeking.
Yes, you can make a razzle-dazzle resume Web page, but, unless you are
looking for a job as a designer of razzle-dazzle Websites, stick to business.
No music. No strange plug-ins required. No "cool, new technology."
Your resume Website will fail if it can't be easily viewed by potential employers.
And, remember your visitors - yellow letters on a dark navy blue background
may look great to you, but your resume probably won't be very legible when
printed (and, hopefully, it will be printed by a recruiter or employer some
About the author...
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff "graduate" who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 1998, her company, NETability, Inc. purchased Job-Hunt.org, and Susan has been editor and publisher of Job-Hunt since then. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg.
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