Are you committing any of these job-search ‘crimes?’

Crime scene

Are you guilty of one of the following job-search offenses?

You were hoping to get away with it, but you were caught red-handed. You’ve committed a job-search crime, one that will likely lead to an unsuccessful attempt at getting the job. Your only way to clear your record is to serve a sentence for the crime that fixes the mistakes you made.

Are you guilty of one of the following job-search offenses?

Crime: Only listing duties on resume
Sentence: Re-write resume to highlight accomplishments
“Job seekers often pull out their position descriptions and use them as the basis for a description of their work experience,” says Cheryl E. Palmer, owner of career coaching firm Call to Career. “But seldom do they point out accomplishments on the resume, which are what distinguish them from similarly qualified candidates. Other employees with similar job titles will have similar experience, but no one can duplicate your accomplishments exactly. Go back to old performance appraisals to find accomplishments that your boss has highlighted.”

Crime: Dismissing the need to network
Sentence: Attend three networking events, reach out to five contacts via social networks
Jane Sunley, author of “It's Never OK to Kiss the Interviewer: And Other Secrets to Surviving, Thriving and High Fiving at Work,” says that many people underestimate the power of networking – both virtual and actual. “It's not just who you know; it's who they know,” she says. “It's never too soon to start building up a network, and always remember to think through what's in it for them – they owe you nothing, so become the sort of person who's useful to know and good to be around.”

Crime: Not being prepared for the interview
Sentence: Research the company beforehand, think through potential questions
If you think you can get away with winging it at the interview, think again. “Many people, particularly those who would take almost any job offered, don't spend the necessary time researching the company beforehand,” says Jake Cain, founder of, a website with resources for young job seekers. “You will have the opportunity to ask questions during the interview, and not having a few specific questions prepared ahead of time is a big mistake. There are a number of resources available with ideas on the types of questions to ask, but the best approach is to be a good listener during the interview. If the interviewer says something that isn't quite clear, ask about it. The interview should be a back and forth conversation.”

Crime: Being unaware of body language
Sentence: Practice with someone else to help you determine what you’re doing wrong
While you might be nervous during an interview, if it shows in your body language, you may be unintentionally sending the wrong message to the employer. “Some job seekers unwittingly sabotage their interviews by not paying attention to how they come across,” Palmer says. “For example, some interviewees look down at the floor when they are answering questions or have a nervous twitch that is distracting.”

Crime: Having a negative attitude
Sentence: Turn the bad experience into a positive lesson
“Whether you hated your last boss or you have had a string of bad luck in your last few jobs, being laid off or fired, stay positive,” says Sue Hardek, digital marketing and technology recruiter and managing partner at Sue Hardek & Associates. “We all learn from bad experiences and failures, but the job-search process is the time to create the upside of the story and remain positive. Keep negative opinions of past employers and managers to yourself.”

Crime: Failing to follow up
Sentence: Send notes after each phase of the hiring process
Joseph Terach, founder and CEO of Resume Deli, says, “To show that you’re really interested in a position, you’ve got to follow up, not only after you’ve submitted your initial application – assuming you haven’t heard back after a reasonable period of time has gone by – but after you’ve interviewed and even after you’ve been rejected. If you really want to land a position at a particular company, your mindset should be, ‘I’m going to get this job in the long run; I may not get this position, and it might take me several months or longer, but I’m going to win these guys over.’ Your persistence, if carried out with a positive attitude, will be recognized and rewarded by your target.”