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5 big mistakes job seekers make

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As the job market continues to improve, increasing numbers of people are tempted to seek new employment. However, many wind up sabotaging their search by failing to follow some basic job-hunting rules like submitting a cover letter to a prospective employer.

A Harris survey -- of 3,244 full-time workers across industries and company sizes conducted for the job website CareerBuilder and released today -- found a surprising number of them fell into this category.

"Workers realize that the job market is stronger than it has been over the last eight years, and technology is allowing them to pursue new opportunities faster and more efficiently than ever," said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder, in a press release.

"But just because they are able to submit an application easier, doesn't mean candidates can skip basic steps -- or requirements -- like submitting a cover letter or customizing their resumes. These items get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, and leaving them out of the process can hurt a job seeker's chances of securing a new job."

Check out the five most common job-seeker mistakes.

Names matter

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A whopping 84 percent of job seekers don't take the extra step of finding out the hiring manager's name so that they can personalize their applications. Making that effort shows that you went out of your way to learn about the company, and that can help an applicant stand out from the crowd.

Customize your resume

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The poll found that 54 percent of respondents didn't tailor their resume for the specific requirements of a potential employer. That's a pity because hiring managers can easily spot a repurposed CV.

CareerBuilder recommends that applicants add keywords from the job posting so that their application will get noticed by the tracking systems many employers use.

Write a cover letter

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This requirement may seem like a no-brainer, but CareerBuilder found that 45 percent or respondents failed to include a cover letter that introduces themselves and showcases their credentials. And remember to closely proofread anything you submit to a potential employer. This isn't text messaging -- spelling and grammar count. Errors of that sort reflect poorly on the applicant.

Follow up, but don't nag

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The survey found that 37 percent of applicants don't follow up with a prospective employer after applying for a job. While postings often say applicants shouldn't contact them, that's not an iron-clad prohibition. A succinct email or voicemail message is usually OK.

CareerBuilder recommends doing so maybe once a week, adding "It's also important to make sure you have a contact name, so you are not spamming the company."

However, job seekers walk a fine line between being enthusiastic or a pain. Don't cross it. Use some common sense, and realize that businesses get things done according to their schedule, not yours.

Send a thank-you note

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Miss Manners would probably be appalled to learn that 57 percent of applicants don't send a thank-you note after having any interaction with a prospective employer. Not only is sending a thank you proper etiquette but it's expected by hiring managers even after a phone screening. Failing to acknowledge the company's efforts won't bode well for an applicant.

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