Job seekers often do almost everything “right” but are tripped up by a simple, avoidable mistake. Here are some of the most common pitfalls to avoid:
1. Taking extended time off from the hunt.There are always many reasons to not buckle down and start a job search. You might want the summer to decompress from your busy season, or you might be the stay-at-home parent who puts off the search to spend the summer with your children. And if you are fortunate enough to have several months of living expenses in the bank, you might say: “I’ll take my severance and use it for a trip to Europe.”
Ask yourself: If you were working at a paying job in your profession, would you likely take this kind of extended vacation right now? If you are unemployed, you still have a job: to get a job, and that requires your serious attention.
If you do take considerable time off before returning to the search, there are other costs associated with your hiatus. You’ll lose many networking opportunities. Companies continue hiring throughout the year, and when you don’t show up, you forfeit the opportunity to be considered.
And, down the road when you are asked what you’ve done since being unemployed, your answer about that European vacation won’t do much to promote your personal brand as a driven professional.
2. Spending lots of time scouring job boards and applying to positions online. Almost everyone starts a job search thinking, “I’ll go online, find a job to apply to, and that will lead to an interview and ultimately a job offer.” There is certainly value to seeing what’s out there with searches on major job boards, Indeed and LinkedIn. And some people are successful with this simple tactic. The problem, however, is that well less than 10 percent of all job offers are made to candidates who have simply applied online.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking this is all it takes to get a job, or that because you are spending lots of time applying to jobs online, you are engaging in a serious job search! It’s critical that you add other arrows to your job-hunting quiver, such as networking (both online and in person), conducting informational interviews and more.
3. Asking other people to do what you should be doing. Delegation is a great skill for a successful leader and manager. And effectively engaging your network of friends and associates to aid your job search can be a real boon to your efforts. But it’s important to not frustrate the very people you want to help you by asking of them more they can reasonably or comfortably do for you.
Say you put out a message to your network like: “I’m a [job title or occupation]. Please let me know if you hear of a job that would be good for me.” You can assume that most people in your network don’t know you well enough to understand at what specific role you can excel, what kinds of companies would be good fits for you or any other information that would help them help you.
A better thing to say may be: “I’m a mid-level [job title or occupation] and understand that ABC company is looking for people like me. Do you know anyone at the company who I might speak with to get the lay of the land before I apply?” Make your “asks” specific and reasonable in scope to properly motivate your network.
4. Telegraphing your desperation. It might well be that you are out of savings and don’t know from where the money for your next month’s mortgage payment will come. You legitimately need to work. But that’s not a reason people should or will hire you. More likely, people flee from desperate job seekers.
Recognize that, unfortunately, your being in a tough spot doesn’t do anything to shorten the job-hunt process. Instead, put your nose to the proverbial grindstone, demonstrate resilience andkeep working away at networking and other job-hunting activities.
5. Only applying for long-shot dream jobs. Studies show that many people feel dissatisfied at work, and so many of them may experience the “grass is always greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome.
While it’s possible to transition from what you are doing to something else that seems more interesting, bear in mind that your highest probability of being hired is for jobs that require the specific experience in your own field that you already have. Therefore, the more desperate you are to get a job, the more you should weight your job search toward the familiar rather than the fanciful alternative.
Arnie Fertig, MPA, is passionate about helping his Jobhuntercoach clients advance their careers by transforming frantic “I’ll apply to anything” searches into focused hunts for “great fit” opportunities. He brings to each client the extensive knowledge he gained when working in HR staffing and managing his boutique recruiting firm.
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