Conquer your fears of networking, interviewing and self-promotion by following these simple behavior changes that can help you relax and boost your confidence.

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With Halloween week already upon us, things are getting a bit spookier around the Puget Sound region. This is probably a good time, then, to address the various fears that many job seekers have regarding their job search. One of the cruel ironies of looking for work is that we must appear relaxed, confident and enthusiastic when about 90 percent of us are terrified about the impressions we’ll make.

Here are some of the top five fears I’ve heard from readers about their job-search experience, roughly in order of severity, from the vague anxiety of “The Sixth Sense” all the way up to Freddy-Krueger-chasing-you-in-your-nightmares terror. With a few simple behavior changes, these worries can be brought under control.

5. Missing a golden opportunity. One way to alleviate this fear is to target a few companies, set up informational interviews, write some blog entries and let hiring managers know your skills are too good to pass up. Make your own opportunities.

4. Picking the wrong job/salary. Even if you get the job, no one likes the feeling of getting a raw deal that could have been prevented. Take your time in responding to job offers. And don’t be afraid of negotiating for a higher salary. The Great Recession is long over, and you have more bargaining power these days.

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3. Speaking to strangers at networking events. For me, this might actually rank a notch higher on the anxiety list. If you’re nervous about introducing yourself, try going to events with a buddy. Also, remember that everyone there is likely just as nervous as you. Break the ice by asking what other attendees are looking for and try offering whatever help you can.

2. Making a typo on a resume. As a journalist, this also is a particularly big fear of mine. For job seekers, the consequences of even a small typo can be the difference between a call-back and the old “circular file.” The answer is to never go it alone. I never let a story go into production unless at least one set of eyes has scanned it for spelling and grammatical errors. No one’s purfekt.

1. Saying something stupid in a job interview. Now we’re getting to the heart of what scares nearly all of us: humiliation. Some studies have found that public speaking is a greater fear than death for some people. The answer is preparation. You will likely get difficult questions, like “what’s your greatest weakness?” just to see how you will react, so practice your measured responses with a friend. Before the interview, come up with several anecdotes that describe your ability to lead, solve problems and perform the duties in the job requirements. Have them ready to deploy when needed.

Randy Woods is a writer and editor in the Puget Sound business publishing arena and a veteran of the local job-search scene. Email him at