Job Searches That Sink: 4 Boneheaded Moves That Can Cost You an Offer

An arm is emerging from an ocean and holds a sign that says "Job Search"

Whether you've launched several successful job searches in your career, are testing the waters for the first time or can't contain your excitement about making a professional move, one thing is probably true of your situation: The prospect of looking for a new job seems daunting. A Robert Half survey proves the point. Nineteen percent of workers interviewed said they intend to look for a new job in the coming months, and the vast majority of these individuals – 70 percent – said they view the task as "challenging."

One reason is that looking for a new job isn't an everyday occurrence. Almost half – 48 percent – of employees interviewed for the Robert Half survey admitted that they'd been out of the job-search loop for at least five years. Your search skills can grow rusty in that time.

That's why it's important to brush up on your strategy for conducting job searches and be aware of the typical faux pas that could cost you an offer. See below for four examples of what not to do during your job searches:

1. Don't come on too strong
There's a fine line between showing initiative and being overbearing. Employers and hiring managers appreciate candidates who do their homework by looking into the company and gauging how they fit with its values and objectives. However, sending an endless stream of emails, interrogating hiring managers before or during an interview, or suggesting how to overhaul or improve the firm in an initial interview could earn you a definitive "Thanks, but no thanks."

2. Don't apply for jobs you don't really want
Quality, not quantity, is the way to go with job searches. Hiring managers are nobody's fools and quickly sense whether a candidate is appropriately qualified for, and genuinely interested in, a position. So there's no point applying for a job because you hope it may lead to something else or think it will serve as a placeholder until you find a better opportunity.

Remember, a receptionist position will rarely propel you to executive assistant, in a short time frame at least, and there's no point in applying for a full-time, in-house accounting job if you want to have the flexibility of being a financial consultant.

3. Don't neglect your image
In this hyper-connected age, first impressions are made or maimed in a click: More and more employers are using social media for recruiting.

You can assume that a hiring manager will Google you and check out your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles before inviting you in for an interview. Inappropriate public posts, dubious photos and incomplete LinkedIn profiles have sunk many job searches and, quite frankly, can make the difference between receiving a call back or not. Google yourself, examine your social network presence from the point of view of an employer and polish or filter where necessary before you send out applications.

4. Don't over- or undersell yourself
Accurately pitching your strengths and weaknesses is critical to a successful job search. Exaggerating or lying on your resume, in your cover letter or during an interview is an instant turnoff for employers if they find out. And thanks to the Web and social media, it's easier than ever to uncover the truth. Being cocky or full of bravado can have the same effect.

By the same token, coming off as insecure in your own abilities can prove equally unappealing. Strive to strike a balance between confidence and humility by sticking to the facts when discussing your achievements and experience.

Keep these red flags in mind when conducting job searches, and you'll be right on track for impressing potential employers and landing the right role for you.