7 Biggest Job-Search Mistakes People Make That Prevent Them From Landing Their Dream Career
Lisa Petsinis from YourTango shares some valuable advice on how to get your dream job.
Don't get yourself in the "no" pile.
It can be discouraging to be on a job search with no success, and your self-esteem can take a beating.
But getting hired doesn't have to be so difficult when you know the best ways to present yourself.
Even if you're the perfect candidate, you might unknowingly be making some of the most common job-search mistakes around — ones that are stopping you from landing your dream job.
If you feel stuck and exasperated with your search, you're not alone. Some people have sent out scores of applications only to get called for a handful of interviews — if that.
Some jobs indeed receive hundreds of applications, and competition can be very tight, depending on the role. That being the case, it pays to make sure that you get yourself in the recruiter's "yes" pile.
After you get past the first hurdle in the selection process, you need to keep up the momentum and present your best self to keep the hiring team interested in you.
So, what are recruiters and hiring managers looking for during the hiring process?
- Evidence that you've read and understood the job posting and application process
- Use of keywords that scream "job fit"
- Demonstrated enthusiasm for the role and organization
- Confidence that your past experience and behaviors will predict your future job performance
- A compelling reason to hire you over other candidates
If you're not getting any traction in your search, it's time to take a step back.
Here are seven typical job search mistakes you could be making, and what you should do instead to land your dream career:
1. Jumping Into a Job Search
Many candidates want to jump into job-search mode immediately after losing their job, but it usually doesn't help you find a job — or the right position — sooner.
Regardless of whether you're recovering from job loss or testing the waters to see if the grass is greener somewhere else, it pays to give yourself some thinking time.
At a minimum, reconnect with your strengths and accomplishments and explore what's important to you in your next role. Deal with any negative feelings about your current situation, and you'll be in a better place to present your best self to an interviewer.
2. Applying to Every Job Posting
There may be some merit in practicing your job-search skills. Sometimes it helps to get out of your comfort zone and leap into the job market. But applying for every job you're remotely interested in is likely going to discourage rather than encourage you.
Only a small percentage of candidates get shortlisted for an interview, and unqualified applications tend to annoy recruiters.
Instead, submit fewer, better applications. Take the time to assess whether the job is an all-around fit for you. If you've got the essential qualifications and you're intrigued, absolutely apply.
But if you're not overly enthusiastic about the job, be honest with yourself about why you're moving ahead with an application or take a pass.
3. Using an Outdated Résumé Format
If it's been several years since you've put together a résumé, you're going to want fresh eyes on it. A lot has changed, and hiring teams are more scrupulous and leveraging technology to save them time in the recruitment cycle.
Objectives, responsibilities, and references are increasingly passé, for example.
A captivating headline, summary points of what you're likely to contribute, and clear accomplishments that link to the job posting will take you significantly farther.
Make sure you effectively use white space and keep formatting simple so that an applicant tracking system can easily parse it, too!
4. Skipping the Cover Letter
I've yet to meet a job seeker who relishes the thought of writing a cover letter. Still, even if it's not a requirement of the application, avoiding this challenging task is missing an opportunity to be heard.
Busy recruiters don't have time to guess why you're interested in the job — especially when it doesn't seem obvious, like if you're applying to a different job or one in a new industry.
A well-written cover letter shares something that even the most perfect résumé cannot: it tells a story about why you should get hired.
Here's what else it does:
- Demonstrates your writing skills
- Shows that you understand the job requirements
- Humanizes your application and reveals your personality
- Proves how eager you are to get the job
- Makes the reader want to meet you in person
If you're struggling with writing cover letters, hire a professional to help you stand out.
5. Neglecting to Network
It's easy to let time pass without connecting with former colleagues, managers, and clients. Still, the best time to nurture your network is before you need one.
If you've been busy juggling a family and a demanding job, give yourself some compassion. Then get on with relationship building.
Make a list of everyone you know who could support your job search, then create a plan to reach out to your biggest cheerleaders first.
6. Conveying an Inconsistent Persona
Whether or not they should, employers are checking you out online! Don't get yourself screened out by having a colorful online presence (unless the job calls or it) or not having one at all.
Take the time to review and scrub your social media accounts, adding privacy protections or deleting less favorable posts where possible.
Fun or cryptic email names can work for personal mail but can unnecessarily raise eyebrows on an application. Set up a generic Gmail account before you finalize your résumé.
Your professional and personal personas need to line up. Be clear about the company culture and vibe, and make sure a prospective employer views you as an asset, not a potential liability.
7. Winging It During an Interview
Interviewing has evolved. Relying on a strong résumé and your personality — or even a personal relationship with a decision maker — will not get you to the finalist stage.
The number one key to success in interviewing is adequate preparation. Anticipate a variety of interview formats, styles, and questions. Study the job and the organization, know yourself and your accomplishments, and present your value with confidence.
Avoiding these common job-search pitfalls can make the difference between moving ahead in the process and being sidelined. Ultimately, you need to be yourself if you want a job you'll love, but putting your best foot forward can get you closer to getting the job offer.
Lisa Petsinis is a certified career and life coach and former human resources leader who works with resourceful individuals to uncover and communicate their brilliance so they can land a job they'll love. Contact Lisa to learn more about her services and her unique insider's view and make meaningful progress in your career starting today.
This article was originally published on lisapetsinis.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.