We all know the job market sucks right now. If you are a job seeker chances are you are sending out a lot of resumes and not getting a positive response. Maybe you are getting interviews but still not getting the job. Perhaps it is time to stop blaming the economy and start evaluating your job searching process. Maybe you are making some mistakes. Take a look below at the 7 most common mistakes that job seekers make.
Failure To Showcase Your Strengths
If it has been a while since your last job search, you need to know that things have changed. From newspaper job postings to submitting a resume, the job-search process is evolving. The Internet has made things easier, and, at the same time, more complicated. Thanks to email you can now submit 100 resumes or more in an hour. So can your competition. More resumes leads to an overwhelmed Human Resources (HR) Dept. In that kind of environment it is easy to get lost. You must find a way to stand out from the crowd! When bidding on a position, it is important that you take time to evaluate yourself and take an inventory of what your are good at and what your areas of improvements are. If you know your strength you will be prepared to discuss your value proposition and what you can offer the company.
Identify your skills
You should be able to highlight your skills and abilities from the standpoint of the person making the hiring decision. Many job seekers have a difficult time articulating what they could bring to the table, because they don’t want to be perceived as being a braggart. This is not the time to be humble or shy. The hiring manager is seeking someone with a unique set of skills to help them solve their pain! It is essential that you convey to your potential employer what you are capable of. The key to landing the job you are seeking is to convince the manager that you are the person who can solve their problems and make their life easier. It is time to put on your selling hat. Sell yourself!
This is your ticket to getting interviews that will lead to job offers. The language of business is numbers – so try to use numbers to quantify the results you have had in your past positions.
Don’t be a jerk
This seems pretty strait forward, but it is important to walk the fine line of being confident but not being arrogant. Do not sell yourself short but be careful that you don’t come off as an ass.
Failure To Create A Winning Resume
Your resume is perhaps the most important marketing tool you will use in your job search. A resume helps potential employers see how you can help them. Show a clear work history with quantifiable results from your past. Your resume will get about 8 seconds of attention from an HR recruiter or a hiring manager. For that reason it is EXTREMELY important for your resume to stand out! Failure to make your case in 8 seconds will get your resume tossed into the “no thanks” pile. You don’t want that! Today’s resumes must include two things: a clear professional summary, and quantified statements of past results. Employers are not looking for “employees.” They are looking for someone who can solve their problems. In order for you to stand out you need to show them that you understand what their problems are and that you alone are uniquely qualified to solve those problems (see Mistake #1). One mistake job seekers make is that they try to include too much on their resume. “More is better,” right? WRONG! Less is more when it comes to getting past the first screening. Your resume should be focused and targeted. Errors will get your resume dumped in the trash! Before submitting your resume to a prospective employer, check it for errors at least three times. Have someone proof read it for you to find the mistakes you might have missed. After researching the company or position, you should format your resume to match the needs of the job posting. More importantly, show the hiring manager how you can help him or her solve their business problems! Provide examples from your past to let them know you can help them sleep better at night. Your resume should be focused on the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are applying for an accounting job, you should list in detail your accounting experience. Don’t include things that aren’t important to the position. Don’t tell us about your pet iguana, unless you are applying for a job as a veterinarian. Do show how you helped your last employer reorganize their book keeping system, thereby saving them tens of thousands of dollars. It is ideal to keep the length of the resume to one or two pages. Anything over two pages won’t even get read. Remember, you have eight (8) seconds to make an impression. Use them wisely!
Failure to Have a Plan
Having (or not having) a strategic plan for the job search is perhaps the ONE thing that separates job seekers who get multiple offers from those who keep running into dead ends. Many job seekers waste an enormous amount of time doing the wrong things in their job search. Thus, the search takes longer and the opportunities for finding a good fit are fewer. Job seekers without a plan take nearly twice as long as those who have (and follow) one. Job seekers who have a plan spend time focusing on important activities that will bear fruit in the job search. Those without a plan may be “busy”, but their efforts are often fruitless. Never mistake “being busy” with “being productive.” If you want to avoid this mistake, you will need a clear strategy for finding the perfect career fit for this time in your life. Job seekers without a plan for the job search often settle for something that isn’t quite right, because they are overwhelmed with the need to get a paycheck. Those who follow a carefully laid out plan often find themselves trying to decide which of several offers to accept! Wouldn’t you LOVE to have that problem? In order to create an effective plan, you will need to follow a system. There are many systems out there. They may look different, but the goods ones share most of the same basic principles. The good systems will cut time off the job search, will help you negotiate for a higher salary, and they will help you find a job that fits you best at this time in your life.
Think for a minute, what process or system are you currently using inyour job search? Is it working? Would you benefit from exploring other options?
Failure To Network
It is said that 60% (or more) of all jobs are found through some form of networking referral. If you don’t get introduced directly to a hiring manager, your resume goes into a pile of several hundred other resumes. If it goes into that pile your chances of ever talking to a real person are effectively zero! That being said, sitting in front of your computer all day is NOT a good way to find a job. We recommend that job seekers stay off the computer during daylight hours. Get out of your house and in front of LOTS of people. That’s networking and it really works!
Referrals get interviews.
Having a referral from one of the company employees can go a long way toward landing an interview. A typical company may receive job applications in the hundreds, but more than 60% of all job vacancies are filled by referrals (i.e. networking). The odds of getting hired when you have a referral are very high if you have another 200 to 500 applicants vying for the same position. If you do not know anyone from the company that could give you a referral, it is a good idea to network with other associates from your college or university, trade groups, social networks, and professional organizations. LinkedIn is a great resource for finding people who could introduce you to someone in a specific company. Remember, having a referral greatly increases your chances of getting the position. You will find that more and more companies are now requiring prospective applicants to submit their application online. You DON’T want to be one of these people if you can at all help it. However, if applying online is your only option, your emails regarding the job application should be polished and well articulated.
Failure To Follow Up
It is extremely important to follow up on all interviews and contacts. Don’t “sit and wait” for results to come pouring in just because you think you’ve done your part by passing out your resume or completing an interview.
Consider the following scenario:
Two men apply for a prime position at the same company. The first applicant is a bit more qualified. However, after the interview the first applicant just sits by his phone waiting to hear from his prospective employer. On the other hand, the second applicant sends a hand-written thank you note to follow up. He distributes his contact information to other people that he has met in the company. Furthermore, the second guy does a follow-up phone call to check on the results of the job interview a few days later. The first applicant has not been heard from, because he is relying on the basic “don’t call us, we’ll call you” routine. Who do you think will have a greater chance of getting the job?
The first applicant is slightly more qualified, but, since he did not follow up or even send a thank-you note to the interviewer, in the end, he probably will not get the job. If you are still waiting for that job offer and you do not follow up on your contacts, your chances of getting hired become slimmer as time passes. In business, following up on your contacts is a sure-fire way to spread the word and expand your opportunities. Hiring managers know this and reward the ones who take initiative to follow up. The same is true of networking meetings. Meeting someone at a networking event and then for coffee is a great start, but it’s just the beginning of the relationship. After your meeting, follow up with any assignments you have accepted. Check in days or weeks later to stay in touch. Introduce your new connections to people who can help them achieve their goals. Remember, the money is in the follow up. Set yourself up to succeed ahead of time. Purchase a stock of note cards, envelopes and stamps. Keep them in a convenient place so you can write a note the same day as the interview or networking meeting.
Failure To Prepare
Prepare and rehearse for your interviews – even for informational interviews. After the date and venue have been set, allow time for enough preparation for the big day. Remember that first impressions last, so the way an applicant presents himself or herself really does matter. Employers could easily make a hiring decision based on your dress, the way you talk, or the firmness of your handshake during the initial interview. It is important to consider the surroundings of the company granting you an interview. There is no reason to be inappropriately or poorly dressed at your interview. In fact, it is a good rule of thumb to dress up a notch for any situation. Don’t gloss over the importance of appearance. Some might say that the inner characteristics of the person matter more, but in reality, you only have one chance to make an impression. Being prepared also extends to your professional behavior. A survey conducted by a California staffing firm in correspondence with 1,400 chief financial officers concluded that candidates made serious mistakes in their interviews. Some of the most common mistakes they made included:
1) Arriving late
2) Having little knowledge about the company
3) Having little knowledge about the position
4) Having a superiority complex
5) Behaving arrogantly
Since you can be in complete control of when you arrive, your preparation ahead of time, and how you dress and act, there is no excuse for any of these mistakes! In addition, your online presence must be clean and professional. 80% of hiring managers say they will Google a prospective applicant before they decide to interview them. What does a Google search on your name produce? Have you Googled yourself lately?
Be confident. Your body language should show that you are confident but not overpowering. Maintain eye contact, have a strong handshake, and avoid looking defensive by crossing your arms. Pay attention to the interviewer. If you get permission you may wish to take a few notes, but don’t spend all of your time focusing on your paper. An interview is a conversation to see if you can do the job and if you are a good fit for the company.
Wearing the right clothes is crucial for projecting confidence. As they say, it is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. You can always take off your jacket or tie, but you can’t put one on if you don’t have it with you. One HR manager told us, “I didn’t hire the guy who showed up for the interview in flip-flops.” Don’t be “that guy” (or “that gal”)!
Answer questions intelligently and succinctly
A common mistake of interviewees is that they tend to get tense and forget the questions that are given to them. This gives the impression that you are not prepared for the interview. It is important to research the company and the position for which you are applying to prevent being sidetracked during the interview. In answering questions, focus on what you can do for the company. Use accomplishment statements that give quantified results from previous work experience. If you do not know the answer to a question being asked, it is better to admit you don’t know the answer. Look for the skills or expertise that the company needs, so when interview day comes and the interviewer asks about your strengths and core competencies, you will be able to match them to what the company needs.
What’s true for an interview should be true for every other part of your life as well. You never know when or where you will run into a prospective employer. That conversation you have in the supermarket check out line may just be the one that leads to an interview. For this reason, we recommend that EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE you prepare as if you are going for an interview. While you are on the job hunt, you should dress professionally and be ready to give your “elevator pitch” everywhere you go. As with your dress, the way you conduct yourself (at all times) is extremely important. You ARE being watched. By everyone. Don’t under estimate the importance of the person greeting you at the front desk or answering the phone in making a hiring decision. Treat every person you meet as someone who deserves respect and attention. Their recommendation may be just what is needed in order for you to get the job!
Failure To Ask For Help
Many people think they can find a job on their own, so they don’t ask for help. In a sense, they are right. People DO find jobs without the assistance of anyone else. However, on average they spend twice as much time looking for work, they don’t make as much money, and they have a more difficult time finding the right career fit. Since most people find their job through some form of networking, turning to others on the job search is a smart idea. At the same time, you want to be aware of people who are eager to take advantage of job seekers. Since the job search process can be involved, it’s wise to seek counsel from someone who is skilled at helping people navigate the job search waters – i.e. career coach or a job counselor. It’s important to seek out the support of friends during the job search, but sometimes friends just don’t cut it. They may not have the expertise to help you find the perfect career. Career coaches and job counselors work closely with recruiters and hiring managers to learn the most up to date techniques for finding a job. However, some of the people who present themselves as “experts” are not. How can you tell the difference? Here are some questions that we recommend you ask of a career coach, a job counselor, or even of a website offering assistance:
- Does the counselor/coach/website have significant experience in helping people through the job search process? (Experience matters in the job search!)
- Does the counselor/coach/website utilize a system or model that is proven to be effective? (See Mistake #3 above)
- Are they are willing to share their approach with you PRIOR to your making a commitment? (Many career coaches offer a free session and many websites offer a trial subscription)
- Do they have testimonials from people who have worked with them? (You can learn a lot by what others think!)
Asking for assistance in the job search is not a sign of weakness. It’s a signal that you are willing to learn from the experts! People who ask for help often find the job search to be a fun and enlivening experience.
If you are have recently stopped work or left your job due to a serious injury from an accident at work then make sure you see if you can make a claim. Groups such as express solicitors can help you make a claim and get the compensation you feel you deserve.
Conclusion: Don’t Make Common Mistakes in Your Job Search
Now that you are aware of the common deadly mistakes of job seekers, there is no need for you to duplicate them. By contrast, you will enhance your potential for finding a job if you simply:
Showcase your strengths
Create a winning resume
Have a plan
Ask for help
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