Job hunting is a frustrating process. The job market is tougher than ever and there is more competition. It seems that there is always someone better than you, more qualified than you, and with more experience than you, applying for the same position as you are.

If it isn’t the competition causing us problems, as individuals, we often go about finding a job the wrong way and make mistakes in our job search. Some of the mistakes we make are minor, but recruiters and hiring managers are ruthless in looking for the right people and these mistakes stand out  and are probably the reason why you may still be struggling to find employment.

Mistake 1

Applying for roles you are not qualified for. Firstly, chances are your CV will not even pass through ATS (which in big companies does the initial filtering) because you do not meet the minimum requirements. A recruiter will probably assess all the applications, but they are not going to waste their time trying to find a reason to invite you over for an interview because there are other applicants that meet job specifications. The recruiter will be working on specifications given to them by the hiring manager and they aren’t going to stop and consider someone who doesn’t meet the brief.

Mistake 2

 You relying on a ‘one size fits all’ CV and cover letter? If you are, this could be another reason you are not landing your ideal job. You need to put in the time and customize your CV for every role you are applying for, that way the recruiter will be able to match your skills to the skills they are looking for and most probably increase your chances of being called in for an interview.

Mistake 3

Job seekers are usually bad at networking. Building relationships when trying to find a job can put you way ahead of the competition (or even better, build relationships before you need to look for a job). But how many job seekers sit back and wait for the recruiter to reach out? How about you professionally reach out first? Some job sites usually provide you with a platform to message the hiring manager, go ahead, check the progress and status of your application instead of just sitting back and waiting for that “We regret to inform you” message.

Mistake 4

Your online presence can be a significant help or hindrance in your job search. A great social media presence is important when you are trying to find a job. What you do online can have positive or negative implications for your career development. To get a sense of the kind of person that you are, recruiters will go online and check you out, be smart, be professional, and be very careful of the kind of content that you share with the world, it can make or break your career.

Mistake 5

All too often job seekers apply to so many jobs, many of which they don’t qualify for, that they don’t know where their CV has been sent. Be organized and track your applications on a spreadsheet. Have a plan and work that plan consistently. If you get a rejection letter, go back, and look at the job advert and try and work out why you were unsuccessful. In job applications as in most things, quality over quantity.

Mistake 6

A major mistake many people make in their search for a new job is being unprepared. You have done everything right, and you finally land yourself that interview, but you have no clue what the company does, you did not do your research, you are not presentable, you arrive late for your interview, and you have no idea how to sell yourself. That is unacceptable. Yes, you are nervous, nerves are good, but pull yourself together and go get what you have worked for.

Looking for a job can be incredibly stressful, but if you avoid making these basic mistakes, you’ll put yourself ahead of the competition and be much better placed to secure that position.