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Don't Make These Job Hunting Mistakes

Résumé, social networking gaffes may work against you in your search

7. Don't forget to check all your correspondence for errors. Proofread all your correspondence, be it an email, cover letter, job application or thank-you note. The devil is in the details. This is basic, but easy to forget.

Take your time. Pause before you hit the send button. Read your note again, out loud, just as you did with your résumé. (And, please, it's never a good idea to send messages via texts or emails on your cellphone, particularly if you have an autocorrect program running.)

8. Don't wait passively at home for the phone to ring. If you're unemployed now, go do something. Try volunteering for a nonprofit organization or do pro bono work in a job that uses your skills.

Join professional groups. Volunteer for events to stay engaged and hobnob with players in your field.

Volunteering for a nonprofit lets you network and potentially get your foot in the door with a future employer. It also fills in gaps in your résumé. And you never know, you might just meet someone who will lead you to a job opening elsewhere.

Search for prospects at VolunteerMatch.org, HandsOnNetwork.org and AARP's Giving Back (aarp.org/giving-back). Seek out nonprofits that need your particular professional expertise through TaprootFoundation.org and the Executive Service Corps (escus.org). Bridgespan.org runs an online job board for nonprofit positions. Idealist.org has a searchable database of both volunteer and paid positions.

Check with an employer that you're interested in working for, or one in a field that you would like to move into, to find out if it offers unpaid internships for more experienced workers.

9. Don't overlook your physical appearance. First impressions count. Before you head out on an interview, get in good physical shape. It gives you an energetic, vibrant appearance. Spruce up your hairstyle with an up-to-date cut and shaping. Overdress. Wear clothes that are currently in fashion. It's worth shelling out for an interview outfit. It never hurts to overdress. Get some fashion-forward specs. A manicure is a good idea (men can skip the polish). Shine your shoes.

10. Don't dis former employers. If you're asked about a previous employer with whom you had a negative experience, be gracious; smoothly shift the subject away from the past to the present day and future job opportunities.

Never post anything on social media that shows your displeasure if there's bad blood. Nothing good will come from this. When you criticize others, it reflects on your character.

Bonus tip: Don't underestimate yourself. "I encourage my clients to play long shots," says career coach Beverly Jones of Clearways Consulting in Washington, D.C. "You have to chase the off-the-wall prospects, jobs you've never done but have the skills and ability to perform. Be fearless."

Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.

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INTERVIEWING SKILLS: The secret to having a terrific job interview is your ability to sell yourself. You can prepare by practicing answering potential interview questions before talking to a prospective employer.

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