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Rookie Mistakes I Made in My Job Search


Gone are the days when looking for a job meant sitting down with the classified section of the paper and a red pen. That would be easy. Looking for a job in today’s highly competitive Indianapolis job market is anything but.

Here are some mistakes I made in my recent job hunt so you don’t have to repeat them:

  • I didn’t own a suit
    Suit-wearing is not the culture in many companies any longer. However, there is no accounting for personal preferences, so err on the side of being overdressed. Every time. No one will ever be critical if you look too good. Not wearing one cost me a second interview.
  • I waited too long to apply for open positions
    Apply for jobs immediately. I can’t stress this enough. A listing may state, “This position will be posted for 30 days.” However, “posted” doesn’t mean the job is still open. Jobs are often filled long before those 30 days is up. In my naiveté, I thought, “Oh good! I have time to craft an amazingly clever and tailored cover letter!” But lengthy analysis of job offerings resulted in other viable candidates beating me to the punch.
  • I had a lackadaisical approach to follow-up
    You need to set yourself apart from other candidates, and relying solely on your resume rarely pays off. Even though a few companies explicitly state, “please, no follow-up calls,” follow-up with a vengeance anyway. You’re in competition with dozens if not hundreds of candidates. Send emails to notify someone you applied, and send handwritten thank you notes to every person involved in a phone or in-person interview.

    Do you know someone at the place you’re applying to? Stop by. It’s a great way to get yourself into someone’s consciousness.

    Has it been a while since you’ve had that last contact? A friendly email or phone call asking where you are in the process keeps you top of mind.

    I know this is hard. I was worried about seeming desperate and pushy and my follow-up was often poor. But remember: you are in fierce competition for a job. If you have to take an acting class or play the Rocky theme song every morning, do it.

  • I forgot the “work” in networking
    Networking can be fun! Who doesn’t like effervescent conversation among well-dressed professionals over a cocktail? However, you need to network with purpose. Attend professional groups and volunteer around town with gusto. Follow-up with the names on any new business cards in your possession.

    The powerful part of networking comes when you’re viewed as a connector – when you make connections for other people, even when it may not benefit you. Concentrate on that.

job search hourglass
Image courtesy of ponsulak at

A note on LinkedIn and other social media:

Ensure you have a sharp profile. Be careful but not overly selective when connecting with other professionals, as getting to 500+ connections is not a popularity contest, but the catalyst to better search results for employers finding you. Join LinkedIn groups that pertain to your field, and update your page regularly – especially your profile picture. It’s not acceptable to have anything but an updated, flattering and professional headshot when you’re seeking employment. The keyword there is professional, as the other two will automatically fall into place.

Keep your profiles on other social media platforms consistent. Upload that fantastic new headshot to all your social media accounts, and contribute content via guest blogging, discussion comments, and by sharing relevant updates. All this should reflect some aspect of your job search. For example, I was seeking a job in marketing or communications, so all my Google Plus posts dealt with some aspect of marketing, advertising, writing and design.

Your time spent on social media will become more work than play, but its work that will pay off. All that posting on Google Plus I do? I landed a freelance writing gig from that platform alone. My new boss originally posted the position he eventually hired me for on LinkedIn, and he never asked me for my resume. His question to me was: “What can your resume tell me that you, or your LinkedIn profile can’t?” In my case, not much, because I had put the work in – but I learned from the early weeks of my job search that I didn’t pay enough attention to this aspect.

Diligence is key. I’ll be off to a much better start if I find myself unemployed again! And my last mistake? Not consulting the Indy at Work site sooner. There’s a wealth of information there. Good luck!

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About the Blogger: Laura Neidig works for the Riley Children's Foundation as Senior Communications Officer. She also serves as Marketing Liaison with the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and is a 4-time Emmy award winner.


Tue, July 8 2014 » Career Planning and Goal Setting

4 Responses

  1. robbyslaughter July 8 2014 @ 3:44 pm

    These are some great (hard won) tips, Laura! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laura Neidig July 9 2014 @ 12:49 pm

    You are very welcome. What do they say about experience being the best teacher? It is indeed true.

  3. Kelly Wright July 10 2014 @ 3:40 pm

    Another great post, Laura! I always enjoy reading your articles.

  4. Laura Neidig July 14 2014 @ 3:22 am

    Kelly – thank you! You know, it's so much easier looking at the positive take-a-ways then grumbling about them too much. Job seeking is tough, demeaning and demoralizing at times – but consistent effort is key.

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