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Don't Make These Job Hunting Mistakes

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

En español | When you get passed over for a job and you're over 50, it's tempting to pin the blame on ageism, or say that you were overqualified for the position, or that there was a younger worker willing to work for less pay.

And while all that is certainly possible, it might be that you made some simple (but avoidable) mistakes.

Here are my top 10 things not to do in your job search.

See also: Dear Abby Weighs In on Older Workers Debate

People waiting for job interview, Tips to avoid job search mistakes (Image Source/Alamy)

Before your interview, make sure your social media accounts don't cast you in a bad light. — Alamy

1. Don't adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward your online social media footprint on sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

A recent CareerBuilder nationwide survey found that more than two in five hiring managers who use social media to research potential employees said they found information online that caused them not to hire a candidate. The biggest turnoffs for potential employers:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photos or information — 50 percent.
  • Sites had information about candidate drinking or using drugs — 48 percent.
  • Candidate bad-mouthed previous employer — 33 percent.
  • Candidate had poor communication skills — 30 percent.
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion — 28 percent.
  • Candidate lied about qualifications — 24 percent.

In today's job market, you must have an online profile, though. And it can work for you, if you manage your accounts diligently.

First, upload a current professional head shot (or at least an attractive photo, even if you took it with your smartphone). People want to see what you look like. Smile and sit up straight, with your shoulders pulled back. You might want to visit a hair salon before your photo shoot to tidy up your locks.

Update your personal privacy settings on social media sites such as Facebook. Search for yourself on Google and other Web search engines. You'll discover what others can. Remove anything that shows you in an unflattering light, if possible, or be ready to discuss in an interview.

What you think is all in good fun might not come across that way to a potential employer. Scrub your online profiles before you go job hunting. Highlight your work experience and education. List your hobbies and volunteer activities, and comment on or post articles you find interesting. "Statistically speaking, we know that if you share once a week you increase your chances of having your profile viewed by a recruiter tenfold," says LinkedIn's career expert, Nicole Williams.

Ask ex-colleagues, previous bosses and past clients in different age groups to write recommendations and endorse you on LinkedIn. It's best if they stress your up-to-date tech skills, creativity, experience and work ethic. And when a younger colleague backs you, it subliminally shows that you work well with someone younger — often a concern for employers hiring an older worker.

2. Don't use a kooky email address, such as Bluedevil@aol.com or some such moniker that means something to you, but not the person in Human Resources. Choose an email address that's professional and includes your full name, such as johnsmith@gmail.com, or one that includes your own domain name, such as kerry@kerryhannon.com. Avoid an address with numerals, especially if it's something that suggests a birth year, such as Kerry1960@aol.com.

Add a signature to your outgoing email messages that includes your contact information and links to social network accounts such as Twitter and LinkedIn. Employers will look at those links to gather more information about you.

Next page: Don't job hunt alone. »

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Video Extra

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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