Five out of six Americans plan to look for a new position in 2011, according to a survey by Manpower. If you are one of them, consider the 10 common mistakes made by job hunters and how to avoid them, offered by Kathyrn Ullrich, a Silicon Valley executive search consultant and author of "Strategies for Career Success" (Silicon Valley Press, 2010).
1. Playing the generalist card
Design your job search around specific industries and functions: specialize!
2. Bloated resumes
Employers scan resumes in seconds. Remove extraneous words and phrases to bring your experiences and accomplishments to the forefront.
3. Missing your target
Focus on your target. Know the job you're seeking, what companies are looking for, and how you can present your experience to win people's attention.
4. Hibernating online
Get out and connect with your network and other people you encounter along the way. Share your 15-second "elevator pitch" with everyone, whether you're at a major networking event or a checkout lane at the supermarket.
5. Misguided networking efforts
The first commandment for networkers is: Thou shalt not ask for a job while networking. The sole purpose of networking is to seek advice and information.
6. Preparing too little -- or not at all -- for interviews
Before every interview, do your homework on the company, from knowing the executive team to learning about key industry issues, trends, and competitors.
7. Missed opportunities on social media
Employers and recruiters look at your profile online: Linked In, Facebook, and other social networking Web sites. Watch the appropriateness of what you post online and take it one step further: present your personal brand. You won't always have a chance to verbally tell your story (including any time spent between jobs) so tell it online and tout your brand.
8. Weak communication skills
Pick one area of communication that needs your attention, like listening, presenting, persuading, or distilling messages and commit to improvement. Take a class, hold "practice interviews" with a friend or career coach, or join a group such as Toastmasters.
9. Failing to put in the hours
Job searching is a full-time position. Don't be a part-timer by investing too few hours in your search.
10. Going at it alone
Form a job search team that meets or talks on a weekly basis. Together, you can create structure and support for your searches plus help spur accountability.
Kathryn Ullrich can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Marvin Walberg is a job search coach. Contact him at email@example.com, marvinwalberg.blogspot.com, or PO Box 43056, Birmingham, AL 35243.)