Avoid These 7 Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make

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On the hunt for a new job? Steer clear of these seven common mistakes jobseekers make. You may not even know you’re making them, but making these mistakes can hurt your chances of landing that next great job. 

Let’s explore the seven slip-ups every job seeker should avoid. By the end of this step by step guide, you’ll be able to level-up your applications and stand out from the crowd. 


There are 7 common mistakes jobseekers make. Do you know them?
There are 7 common mistakes jobseekers make. Do you know what they are?

What are the biggest mistakes job seekers make?

The job search journey can come with its fair share of potential missteps. Here are some of the most common mistakes jobseekers make:

Common mistakes jobseekers make #1. Not having clear goals 

You’re eager to dive into the job market. We love that! But let’s just press pause for a second. Without clear goals it’s hard to know where to start, or even when you’ve succeeded. Having clear goals is like having a GPS for your career. They help you steer away from jobs that don’t align with your dreams.

Can you relate to this?

“I never really knew what I wanted to do. I had a few jobs, did a few courses, and just generally floated around. It wasn’t until I sat down and put my thoughts to paper that I realised there were certain things I was looking for. 

I’m introverted so I didn’t want a customer service role. I didn’t want to work with food either. This was a surprising realisation to me because I’d been in hospo since high school. I ended up applying for housekeeping positions and secured one relatively quickly because of my transferable skills. 

Now I feel much more secure in my choice because I took the time to sit down with my goals.”

– Swag user, TAS

A global study found that 8 out of 10 workers enjoy their work. You can, too — by deciding what type of work you would like to do, and making small moves towards that. Without solid goals you can end up in a role that doesn’t scratch your career goal itch.

Common mistakes jobseekers make #2. Ineffective job search strategies

Have you ever heard of a job search strategy? Some can help you find the right role faster, and some can actually waste a lot of time. If you want to find a job, you should avoid these ineffective job search strategies: 

  • Spending way too much time scrolling on job boards
  • Only looking for roles on job boards and neglecting the hidden jobs market
  • Using generic cover letters for every application

Think of a job search strategy as the next step after defining your goals – now that you know what you want, it’s time to make a game plan for how to attract the roles you know you’ll love. 

Swag Tip: Let Swag do the strategising for you. There’s over 1,400+ roles on Swag Jobs. If you don’t have time to sort through thousands of jobs, Swag Smartmatch automatically matches you with suitable opportunities based on your candidate profile.

Common mistakes jobseekers make #3. Neglecting networking events

One of the biggest common mistakes job seekers make is assuming networking stops at LinkedIn. You’d be amazed at the diverse group of people you can encounter – professionals, mentors, potential collaborators – all in one place.

Is networking not your thing? Swag SmartMatch uses AI to connect you to hundreds of unadvertised roles from over 300,000+ employers. Your profile gets shown to great companies hiring in your industry, and you get a curated list of top job recommendations. Be one of the first to trial Swag SmartMatch.

Common mistakes that jobseekers make #4. Focusing solely on salary

Of course, we all want a comfortable paycheck. But don’t let dollar signs distract you from seeing the bigger picture. It’s not just about your salary. Job satisfaction, growth, company culture and meaningful work perks are just as important.

Can you relate to this?

“A few years back, I left a job I loved for a higher-paying position at a well-known company. Although the new role came with a hefty salary boost, I found myself missing my old team, the laughter, and of course Taco Tuesdays. 

Despite the higher pay, the higher stress and lack of connection with my new team made me wish I’d taken the time to consider the overall benefits and culture before jumping ship.”

– Jobseeker, NSW

It’s about finding that sweet spot between a livable salary and a workplace that makes you excited to roll out of bed every morning. Because you deserve the whole package! Let’s aim for a career that’s good for your wellbeing as well as your wallet.

Read more: How to navigate salary expectations discussions

Common mistakes jobseekers make #5. Limiting your job search to advertised positions

It never hurts to check out your fave job board for opportunities, but a common mistake job seekers make is stopping there. Be that go-getter who’s not afraid to explore the hidden job market —as many as 4 in 5 roles are filled through it. 

Make job hunting effortless with Swag SmartMatch, the AI job matching tool that streamlines your search. With 300,000+ employers in our network, you’ll be connected with opportunities before they get posted online. Register now to be an early SmartMatch user.

Common mistakes jobseekers make #6. Not doing your research

In the age of information, ignorance isn’t bliss – it’s a red flag. Before your interview, do your research. Visit the company’s website, read Glassdoor reviews, and visit their social media pages. Know the company inside out, from its culture and values to any recent company wins. 

Armed with this knowledge, you’re not just another face in the interview room struggling to answer questions. Instead, you’re a stand out candidate who means business and genuinely cares about the opportunity.

Common mistakes jobseekers make #7. Having a generic application

Templates are great to help you with formatting your resume and cover letter, but the substance of your application should be as tailored as possible for each role.

Can you relate to this?

“I was applying for a bunch of waitressing positions so I just used the same cover letter for every single one. I thought, they’re all looking for someone who can serve dishes and smile, so why does it matter? 

While this meant I could smash out a bunch of applications in such a short amount of time, I found no one was really biting. I didn’t get offered a single position.”

– Jobseeker in the Hospitality industry, VIC

Nothing screams “I don’t care” louder than a generic one-size-fits-all CV and cover letter. Refresh it, make it scream, “I’m the one for this job!” and your effort will shine through, trust us.

Read more: 67 resume do’s and don’ts

Common mistakes jobseekers make #8. Not taking virtual interviews seriously

A virtual interview is essentially your regular job interview but with a digital twist. Your task remains unchanged – have a meaningful conversation to see if the opportunity is right for you and your potential employer. Show up well dressed and on time, ready to dazzle.

This is especially true if the role you’re interviewing for is a remote role. You want to treat the virtual interview as seriously as you would treat the position, to show you’re an engaged candidate. To improve your chances even more, before you even get to the interviewing stage, make sure your CV is primed for remote positions. 

Swag Tip: Do a quick speed, camera and mic test before you jump on the call!

While the job market is competitive, some candidates unknowingly hinder their chances by making common mistakes. So, avoid these mistakes, create a Swag Profile today, and land your perfect role!

Land your dream job with Swag

Get ahead of the competition. Outsmart other job seekers who can only see publicly advertised positions. Discover jobs no one else knows about and be among the first to secure the best opportunities with Swag. 


The information in this article is current as at November 2023, and has been prepared by Employment Hero Pty Ltd (ABN 11 160 047 709) and its related bodies corporate (Employment Hero) for its Swag brand. The views expressed in this article are general information provided in good faith to assist job seekers in the current market, and should not be relied on as professional advice. Some Information is based on data supplied by third parties and whilst such data is believed to be accurate, it has not been independently verified and no warranties are given that it is complete, accurate, up to date or fit for the purpose for which it is required. Employment Hero does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such data and is not liable for any loss or damages arising directly or indirectly as a result of reliance on, use of or inability to use any information provided in this article. You should undertake your own research and seek professional advice before making any important career decisions or solely relying on the information in this article.