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10 Newbie Job Seeker Fails

Hannah Morgan

You will face many situations as you search for your next job, and as you'll see below, one of the worst things you can do is opt out of opportunities. Here are 10 newbie mistakes you should avoid:

1. You don't get enough information about a networking contact before reaching out. You would probably feel more comfortable and confident reaching out to a referral contact if you knew something about them. Your success in securing a meeting with someone you don't know will improve if your request explains why you want to meet.

The better option: When you receive the name of a referral or someone you should speak with, ask why. Find out how long your contact has known this person, in what context, and why it would be mutually beneficial.

2. You won't talk to third-party recruiters, contract houses or temp agencies, because you think they're rip-offs. This is a bad idea for many reasons. Did you know that some jobs are only filled by recruiters? It depends on the company and the types of roles, but you don't want to miss out on an opportunity. And did you also know that contract and temporary jobs can often lead to regular employment?

The better option: Be discerning when evaluating the potential job that a third-party recruiter presents to you. Ask the recruiter what they know about the company and the job, if they have placed people within the company before and what role the recruiter will play during the interview process.

3. You refuse to get on LinkedIn because of privacy issues. LinkedIn is a popular recruiting tool used by small and large companies across many industries. If you choose to opt out based on personal preferences or misinformation, you may hinder your job search.

The better option: Learn how to fill out your LinkedIn profile and about privacy settings. You can read articles, talk to others who are using it or even hire someone to help you create your profile. Consider your profile your online resume, although it is capable of so much more.

4. You refuse to take an interview, because the commute to it is too long. Prejudging a job opportunity based solely on its distance from your home is ill-advised. Do you know if the company allows telecommuting? If you didn't have to commute daily, would that change your decision?

The better option: Go to the interview, and learn about the job. What do you have to lose? Ask how many employees work remotely. If the company doesn't support the idea, don't give up hope. Once you've received the offer, you may be able to negotiate the number of days you are in the office.

5. After numerous weeks of unemployment, you turn down a job because it's "below" you. Is it damaging to your career to take a lower-level job? Not always. In fact, future employers may even admire your determination and work ethic. What may be more damaging to your job search is your extended period of unemployment.

The better option: Carefully weigh the pros and cons, and consider how you will explain why it's taking so long for you to find a job. This is a complex situation and difficult to answer broadly. There may come a time when it makes sense for you to take a lower-level job.

6. You refuse to fill out any online application that asks for Social Security number. Every job seeker should be concerned with identity theft and practice safe online practices. However, there are still companies out there that ask for a Social Security number on the online or paper application.

The better option: Instead of assuming the job is a scam or that the company will abuse your private information, call human resources, and speak with someone. There may be a workaround.

7. You turn down the second interview, because the first interviewer was a jerk. Ending the interview process too soon, based on early assessments, may not provide an accurate evaluation. Perhaps your interviewer was having a bad day. You probably haven't learned enough about the company, the people you will be working with or the job to make the most informed decision.

The better option: Smile, learn what you can from the interviewer and enthusiastically accept a second interview so you can accurately assess your fit within the organization.

8. You forget to ask the time frame for making the hiring decision. If you don't know what the next steps in the hiring process are and what the company timeline is for filling the job, how will you know when to follow up? Emergencies, vacations and budgets can cause timelines to slip, so don't assume no news is bad news.

The better option: Immediately contact the person you interviewed with, preferably via phone, and ask about the process and time frame. Also ask if it would be OK for you to follow up if you haven't heard from the interviewer within that timeline.

9. You follow up after the interview by showing up at the business location. Being eager is one thing. Coming across as desperate or lacking professionalism is another. Unless you have been invited to stop by anytime, making an appearance at the company could send the wrong impression.

The better option: Show your interest and persistence by following up with a professional thank-you note. Use the information you gained by asking about the hiring process to gauge future follow-up best practices.

10. You insist on making the same salary you made at your last job. Many factors impact your value in the workplace -- only one of which is your previous salary. Turning down an interview or job offer based solely on salary could send the message that you are inflexible.

The better option: Do a thorough evaluation of what the salary ranges are for the types of jobs you are interested in. This means speaking to peers, recruiters and using online salary calculators.

Hannah Morgan writes and speaks on career topics and job search trends on her blog Career Sherpa. She co-authored "Social Networking for Business Success," and has developed and delivered programs to help job seekers understand how to look for work better.

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