Mistakes to Avoid When Looking for a Job

Overlooking the Benefits and High Salary

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

College is expensive and many of us are eager to find a high paying job so we can start paying back our student loans and simply, stop being broke. Money management was not a thing during my years of university, so I always had a strong desire to make money. Yes, money is important but not many of us think about other things, such as benefits, like retirement fund contributions, PTO (paid time off), or insurance.

These types of benefits can sometimes outweigh the monetary values because these are things that actually require our personal investment in some ways, shapes, or forms. Take retirement fund contribution, every month, employers can provide a match based on our salary for our retirement in the future. So the next time you are looking for a job, instead of solely focusing on the salary, remember to ask questions about potential benefits.

Forgetting to Negotiate

Negotiation is one of the most useful skills, yet overlooked in college. I didn’t learn about negotiation until I started my graduate study, and in my opinion, it should be a part of general education that college needs to teach.

Don’t bargain yourself down before you get to the table.

Carol Frohlinger

Forgetting to negotiate during a job offer is like leaving money on the table. For example, let say your offered salary is $50,000, but you know that you have a big repertoire of skills that you can bring to the job. If you accept the $50,000 salary offer, you can definitely work your way up but you are working your way up from $50,000. Whereas, if you have good negotiation skills and negotiate for an additional $5000, they may accept it or may offer a different number.

The point is you may walk away with an additional couple of thousands that you can work from. If they choose not to increase your salary, that’s fine, you can leverage that and negotiate your benefits package or PTO days. So highlight your resume for your strongest skills and start negotiating.

Lack of Preparations for the Interview

After weeks or months of waiting, we finally hear back from the recruiter. YES!!! The next step is usually an interview, depending on your field, it may consist of two to three sessions. The first session is usually via the phone or virtual in order for them to get a feel of your personality and your understanding of the company. The second session can be in person or also virtually, depending on your location.

I find virtual sessions to be a little more intimidating since it is more difficult to read the person’s expressions. I have managed to land a few job offers, including one out in Portland, OR via virtual interview. Check out my blog on how to have a successful virtual session here.

My tip is to practice, practice, practice. Ask your friends or family to sit down and give you a mock interview for personality-based interviews. Many of us may not always be comfortable with talking about ourselves, but with enough practice, we will get better at talking about our accomplishments in a constructive manner.

Given an interview involving hard skills, I recommend reaching out to peers we may know at the company for some insights. Or try job hunting sites that have reviews, I tend to find sample interview questions on these sites and it helped me to prepare ahead of time for the type of questions they may ask.

Not Asking Questions

Another common mistake that many of us tend to commit is not asking questions to the recruiters or interviewers. Asking questions will help us with two vital things, showcasing our interest in the company/job and ensuring it is a suitable workplace for us.

It is common to ask tons of questions about the company, such as workplace culture, employee benefits, career advancement, or work-life balance. Those questions will help us gauge how much the company cares about its employees. You can also ask business-related questions such as their technology usage or operation. These questions will show the interviewers that you are keen on learning about the company. It demonstrates a sense of curiosity and preparation, and these are positive signs that may put you ahead of others.

While the company is an interview to see if you’re a good fit, you should also interview them to see if they are a good fit.

Second, for those who are looking for their first “real life” job. During the early years of your career, it is important to stay for at least one year because it does show that you are committed to a company. Because the first few years are so vital, you want to pick a company that aligns with your interest and value as much as possible.

Now, we may or may not have the luxury of selecting the best company. But do your best to align your values with the company’s because, in the long run, it can impact your relationship and performance on the job. So ask questions to give you insights into whether or not this company is where you want to spend the majority of your time.

Not Doing Your Research

Most companies have invested resources and efforts to establish their brands and cultures. If you want to be a part of the company, you should dedicate time and attention to research about them and their initiatives. It is a sign of respect for their time dedicated to recruiting and interviewing. Plus, it will show the recruiter that you are aligned to the company’s mission or at least interested in their work.

Photo by Surface on Unsplash

One of the most effective ways to do this is by attending the company’s lunch and learns or networking events. These events will provide us with great exposure to company individuals, and it can at times be much more personal to make a connection. They may even provide valuable insights that we may not find on the company’s career page. Recruiters can tell when someone is truly interested and have gone the extra mile to research them.


Finding a job can be daunting, especially for those who have never navigate the hiring field before. Whether it is asking the right questions or negotiating our incoming salary, these are things that can save us thousands of dollars along with our sanity at the end of the day. If you are looking to land a new job, do not forget to do your research ahead of time and prepare for your interview. I hope these tips are helpful, and I wish you the best of luck on your job search.

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