Job seekers looking for six-figure salaries during the recession are often so worried about their prospects that they ruin their chances with silly mistakes, according to a new survey.

Particularly in a downturn, people lose their bearings and can get very anxious and as a result can make rookie mistakes, said Marc Cenedella, chief executive of, which caters to the job market for those earning $100,000 or more a year and more.

The top mistake candidates for higher-income jobs made was inadequately preparing for an interview, with 44 percent of recruiters naming it as the biggest interview error, the survey of 500 executive recruiters found.

It was conducted from April 8 to April 23.

Weak resumes, being too desperate and willing to take any job offered were close behind, with 43 percent of recruiters naming them as the biggest mistake.

People can get very frustrated and very anxious and very upset about it and as a result behave in ways that make them look desperate, Cenedella said.

He added that some fearful job seekers adopted a false machismo that cast their candidacies in a poor light. Thirty-five percent of recruiters found that candidates being overly aggressive was also a mistake, the survey found.

Other mistakes included failure to follow up after the initial contact or interview, selling oneself short on salary, conducting an unfocused job search, and not sending a thank you note after an interview.

The anxiety that many job applicants feel is warranted by the difficult job market in the recession, Cenedella said.

The number of open jobs paying upward of $100,000 per year will fall 20 percent in 2009, to 3.2 million openings from about 4 million openings, estimates.

And the average job hunt during the downturn is likely to take about eight to nine months rather than the five to six months it would take otherwise, Cenedella said.

To land a job in the tougher environment, candidates can take several steps: have their resume professionally written; apply for fewer but more appropriate jobs; and be persistent, calling the potential employer once a week for five weeks after the interview to express interest, he added.

(Reporting by Rebekah Kebede; editing by Paul Simao)