15 common IT job search mistakes

Searching for a new IT position in a competitive market can be an uphill battle. One little mistake could cost you the opportunity, so make sure you aren't making one of these blunders

Are you an IT professional whose job search doesn't seem to be going anywhere? Looking for a new postion in a competitive tech job market can be frustrating when you aren't achieving your desired results. How do you make yourself stand apart from all the other job seekers?

Part of that equation is preparing a strategy, building a plan and avoiding the common pitfalls. If you're not diligent, patient and careful it's easy for things to fall through the cracks. To help you prevent that from happening, CIO.com spoke with career coaches, resume writers, and IT recruiters to shed light on the most commonly seen mistakes IT pros make when conducting their job search.

[ Also on InfoWorld: Hotshot young techies, take heed of these 10 hard-earned lessons of a lifetime in IT. | Get a digest of the day's top tech stories in the InfoWorld Daily newsletter. ]

1. Not planning and preparing a job search strategy

Searching for a new position is a full-time job. Many candidates go into the search with little or no preparation. More than that, they don't set aside enough time each week or set the proper expectations in terms of how long the overall process will require.

"Having a focused strategy that makes the best use of whatever time you can commit to the search is imperative. I talk to too many professionals who spend several hours each day or night, and all they accomplish is sifting through hundreds of postings listed with online job boards," says Stephen Van Vreede, career strategist and founder of ITTechExec.

2. Not maintaining and growing your network

According to a 2011 survey from Simplyhired.com, more than half of job seekers had been hired through a friend's referral. If you look around the Web, many sites say between 70 and 80 percent of jobs are found through networking. With odds like that, you should spend some time growing your professional network.

If people in your network don't know your skillset and what your value is, chances are they can't really help you find a new job. You have to cultivate and grow these relationships.

"Most people who don't fully buy into the concept of networking, whether in-person or online, do not sustain the relationships they have made over the years. They consider themselves too busy to reach out to their network on a periodic basis just to stay in touch. Yet, when they go to launch a job search, they immediately and frantically contact everyone they know. To be honest, this is really annoying. I mean, who wants to have relationships in which a person only contacts you when they need or want something from you? It makes people not want to help you at all," says Van Vreede.

3. Casting too wide a net

Casting a wide net can leave a lot of holes. Many times, people get nervous about landing a job, so they figure expanding the scope of the search will yield more opportunities. Wrong answer, according to Van Vreede.

"In most cases, that's 100 percent incorrect. What it does in reality is dilute your message on the resume, online profile, etc. and spread your time too thin. You end up chasing things on the fringe that you don't really want and are not a great match for," Van Vreede says. "Defining a narrow scope for the search will help you to create content that truly resonates with your target audience and will aid in saving you lots of time by weeding out unsuitable opportunities."

4. Not researching prospective employers

"One of the best -- and oldest -- pieces of advice is to research the company. Yet it's always at the top of list for biggest mistakes in job searching. People hear it, but they don't do it," says career coach and resume writer Donald Burns.

Although this seems like a no-brainer, it apparently happens a lot. Researching the company you are interviewing with will give you insight into what they do, who their customers are and the problems they face. This, in turn, allows you to formulate intelligent questions for your interview.

5. Talking too much tech

Focusing too much on the technical skills in a position is something that's common in IT interviews, according to Jack Cullen, president of Modis, a national IT recruiting firm.

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