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Mistakes to avoid if you're looking for a job

About ten percent of Americans are unemployed. To help job seekers avoid some common pitfalls, Forbes has released a list of the top five mistakes people make during a job search.

1. Going Out of Your League 
It's nice when you feel confident in your abilities, and most employers will applaud any self-assured applicant over someone who needs continual coaching to perform. By applying for a job that you are seriously not competent to do, however, you waste your and the time of the hiring manager. Keep your job searches to just those you are actually competent to handle, and keep your resume out of the shredding machine. 

2. Running from the Past 
If you called up a past employer and anonymously asked what they thought of your performance, what would she say? Unfortunately, it just takes one historical error (or perceived lack of performance) to taint the perception of all future employers. Your best bet is to make sure that you leave your jobs on good terms, but if that isn't possible, find out what they are saying about you before you continue the job search.

3. Ignoring Your Weaknesses
No one is perfect, so forget about trying to pass yourself off as faultless at your next interview. In fact, the traditional advice of "make a strength seem like a weakness" may backfire, as many hiring managers have heard one too many claims of workaholic tendencies and trying too hard at a career. Instead of playing the same game, it may be best to present your case honestly, and explain how a past weakness has actually been resolved in your life. For example, you used to be slightly unorganized, but a change in processes has allowed you to be more productive at your past job and even enriched your home life. 

4. Failing to Find Out about the Company
Doing a little research about the job you'll be applying for isn't just smart, it's essential. When finding data to present in an interview or on an application, however, avoid reciting useless facts and one-liners from the latest press releases. Instead, seek to answer questions such as: What kind of charity groups is the company aligned with? Will there be any new projects in the coming months that could specifically benefit from your expertise? By giving your demonstrated knowledge of the company a personal touch, the hiring manager will be forced to see that you can do more than memorize quotes for their website; they will realize that you are willing to understand the vision for their business. 

5. Not Following Directions
Last, but certainly not least, is the most avoidable of all mistakes, and it involves a skill that should have been learned in Kindergarten: do what the application process tells you. While we would like to think that there is some secret code to getting your application to the top of the pile, it more than likely involves timing, a little luck and following directions to the letter. If the employer explicitly states "no phone calls, please" - by all means, don't call! Failing to follow directions does more than send your application to the trash bin; it demonstrates your inability to complete a basic task - something a future employer will not take lightly. 

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