Are You Making These 7 Mistakes in Your Online Job Search?

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The Internet certainly makes it easier to hunt for a job. According to a Pew Research Center survey, 54 percent of American adults have looked online for job information and 45 percent have applied for a job online. But the Internet hardly makes it any easier to get a job. In fact, the web weaves a tangled web of potential pitfalls for online job seekers, whether you’re wanting to work at a startup like LawnStarter or a Fortune 500 giant like IBM.

“When looking for a job online, it is imperative to avoid assumptions that the process will be quick, easy or even painless. Job searching online requires focus, time, energy and commitment,” says Chavaz Kingman, an executive coach and corporate consultant.

To make the online job search a tad less painful, avoid these seven mistakes.

1. You’re Ignoring Your Online Footprint.

After you’ve checked out a potential employer and applied for a job there, the employer likely will be checking you out online — on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere. A 2015 survey by recruiting platform Jobvite found that 92 percent of recruiters discover or evaluate job candidates through social media.


Your Facebook presence can burn you.
Photo: Flickr/mkhmarketing

“For that reason, it’s of the utmost importance that people Google themselves to see what is out there about them online,” says Bill Fish, president of, which helps clients protect their online reputations. “It could be inappropriate photos, unflattering news articles or even controversial opinions, but things of that nature could hold you back from your dream job even if you are completely qualified.”

After you’re done reading this blog post, you might want to delete those Facebook photos of you guzzling tequila shots at your cousin’s wedding reception.

2. You’re Posting Your Online Résumé in the Wrong Places.

Too many job seekers turn only to job-board sites like Monster and CareerBuilder to post their résumés online. Amanda Collins, chief of staff at The Grammar Doctors, a content marketing agency, says limiting yourself in that way generates calls about commission-only jobs in sectors like insurance, but yields little else.

Rather, job seekers should post their online résumés on LinkedIn, something that Collins says “too few job seekers capitalize on.”

3. You’re Not Following Directions.

Career coach Donna Shannon, author of “How to Get a Job Without Going Crazy,” says this is one of the biggest blunders she sees among online job hunters. For instance, a job posting on CareerBuilder might tell a candidate to email his or her résumé directly to the HR department, yet the candidate clicks the “Apply Now” button instead. What’s so wrong with that? You’ll automatically be screened out because you disobeyed the directions, she says.

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Failing to follow directions can severely hinder your ability to get hired.
Photo: Flickr/David Amsler

“The reason is simple: HR figures that if you can’t follow the instructions in the job posting, then you aren’t detail-oriented or observant,” Shannon says.

4. You’re Not Tapping Your Personal and Professional Networks.

Technology eases the job search, but you can’t expect to find a job by pecking away at your computer keyboard all day.

Roughly 30 percent of job openings are filled through online job boards or by recruiters, according to job search and career consultant Jeff Altman. That leaves a big chunk of openings filled thanks to personal and professional connections, he says.

A job hunt absent of outreach to personal or professional contacts “gets you nowhere,” says health care entrepreneur Suzanne Garber, author of “SAFETY NETwork: A Tale of Ten Truths of Executive Networking.”

5. You’re Underestimating Your Competition.

When you’re researching employers and applying for jobs online, it’s easy to feel like you’re operating in a vacuum. You might even think you’re the only one who’s unearthed a gem of a job on a company’s website.

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Keep in mind that you’re far from the only competitor in the job race.
Photo: Flickr/Ralf K.

“When you search for a job online, you are entering a global talent database where you may be competing against your neighbor across the street or your ‘neighbor’ across an ocean,” says Chavaz Kingman, the executive coach and corporate consultant. “Do not make the mistake of thinking competition is scarce.”

6. You’re Unprepared.

OK, so you’ve come across a great job online, submitted your application and exhaustively researched the company. But don’t get too comfortable — you’re far from done.

For instance, you might be asked to do an online screening interview before you’re even invited to step foot into the company’s offices. That’s why you should make sure communication apps FaceTime, Skype and GoToMeeting already are installed on your computer or mobile device, Kingman says. And don’t forget to practice interviewing via those apps.

It should go without saying that you should research the employers and industry sectors you’re targeting. Interviewing coach Neil Bondre, founder of The Interview Professional, says you should know about those employers’ workplace cultures, backgrounds and growth opportunities, while you should delve into the stock performance, latest developments and technology trends of the industry sectors.

Another tip: Follow targeted employers and industry influencers on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

7. You’re Following Up Via Email.


Relying on email follow-ups won’t make you stand out from other candidates.
Photo: Flickr/Joe The Goat Farmer

Pretty much every job seeker follows up by email. In-house recruiter Stephen Fean says that’s the wrong approach. Instead, he says, you should try something different like mailing a follow-up note or making a follow-up phone call so that you stand out — in a positive way — from other applicants.

“Most people receive too many emails a day to bother fully reading yours,” says Fean, vice president of business development and marketing at Watchdog Real Estate Project Managers, a real estate consulting and project management firm.

Top photo: Flickr/Eric Norris


John Egan

John Egan is the former editor in chief of Now, he is a freelance writer extraordinaire. He lives in Austin, Texas.