What is the biggest mistake made by job seekers? These 17 career professionals share the mistakes they’ve seen and want job seekers to fix!
This is a continuation of responses to the question “What is the biggest mistake made by job seekers?“
When Miriam Salpeter and I asked our talented and knowledgeable job search colleagues for their input on this question, we were thrilled with the answers they provided. You can see more mistakes job seekers make on Keppie Careers post and my Part 1 from yesterday. And Miriam has a new one today as well, check it out here.
Today’s job hunt is truly competitive. You owe it to yourself to be up-to-date on how to conduct the most successful job search possible because time is ticking!
Not Doing The Right Things
Many candidates only search for new jobs by typing in a few keywords into job boards or aggregators, but a truly focused job search is more about company searching and targeting your ideal employers. ~Heather Huhman, @HeatherHuhman, Come Recommended
If you want to land a great job focus less on what you want (stability, salary, etc.) and more on how you can solve employers problems. Can you clearly articulate how you’re the solution to your potential employers’ challenges? If not, you have more work to do before you’ll be a compelling candidate. ~Phyllis Mufson, @PhyllisMufson, PhyllisMufson.com
Job seekers often fail to realize that job seeking is a competition – they must maintain a competitive spirit to do well. This mindset also removes the pressure of being the “perfect” candidate. After all, even the most prolific winners are rarely perfect… they’re just a little bit better than those they compete against. ~YouTern Team (including Mark Babbitt), @YouTern, YouTern
Putting your job search on hold while you wait to hear back from a specific position and company — sometimes before you’ve even been invited to interview for it — can cost you in time, momentum, and opportunity (e.g., an interesting opening you may miss during this period). ~Shahrzad Arasteh, @CareerConsult, Career Consulting Services
Job seekers focus on job boards as the main thrust of their search instead of generating a multi-faceted campaign that includes networking, job boards, company websites, and building connections on LinkedIn. ~Julie Walraven, @JulieWalraven, Design Resumes
Here is something I’ve (unfortunately) heard: “I’ve sent my resume to every Fortune 500 company, whether they had a job for me or not. I’m hoping that they will see my qualifications and think of a position for me.” ~Cyndy Trivella, @CyndyTrivella, www.linkedin.com/in/cynthiatrivella
Many people see the activities of job seeking as episodic. That may have been true in the past, but not any longer. Tasks like tracking accomplishments, updating résumés, networking, and staying current with the industry need to be ongoing so folks aren’t caught by surprise when an unexpected career transition such as a layoff or firing happens. ~Melissa Cooley, @TheJobQuest, The Job Quest
Many people confuse the activity of ‘applying for jobs’ with the mode of ‘job seeking’. Being a successful job seeker in the social era is as much about online visibility, network value and the ability to identify employment opportunities before they ever becomes job adverts others can apply for. ~Hung Lee, @HungLee, Recruiting Brainfood
Job seekers have no idea what happens to their resume when they hit “send” and apply for something online. They don’t know the “game” or how the typical recruitment process unfolds. In order to play the game effectively, you’ve GOT to know the game, and then strategize accordingly. ~Jenny Foss, @JobJenny, JobJenny.com
Job seekers hide behind a monitor when getting out there and networking face to face for job opportunities will better help them stand out from huge competition. ~Laura DeCarlo, @CareerHero, Career Directors International
The worst thing a job hunter can do is to work with a recruiter and then try to bypass him and go directly to the hiring authority. ~Animal, @Animal, Recruiting Animal (If you haven’t listened to his radio show, you have no idea what you are missing!!! (Wednesdays at Noon EST)
Overlooking Differentiating Details
Understandably, job seekers can make many mistakes in the complicated new world of job search, but the biggest ones are these two, that go hand-in-hand:
1. Skipping over the essential first step – identifying the kind of job you want, targeting the companies that will be a mutual good fit, and researching their current needs and challenges to determine how your expertise can help them.
2. Running straight for your old resume (if you can find it) and updating it – without first knowing who you’re targeting, defining your personal brand, and creating content (for your resume, online profiles and other materials) designed to market your unique value proposition and resonate with your target employers. ~Meg Guiseppi, @MegGuiseppi, Executive Career Brand
Job seekers don’t worry enough about their online reputation and the possibility that mistaken online identity is sabotaging their job search efforts. The solution is Defensive Googling. ~Susan P. Joyce, @JobHuntOrg. Job-Hunt.org and WorkCoachCafe.com
Job Seeker fails to develop a personal clarity that includes: (1) who they are in terms of skills, attributes, values, passions (i.e., personal brand); (2) what work they are good at and most enjoy doing; (3) the types of people / organizations they want to work with; (4) the value they can deliver and how they can make a difference. ~Walter Akana, @WalterAkana, Threshold Consulting
Branding: Not taking the “brand yourself” hype seriously enough. Corollary: Not understanding what “brand yourself” means. ~Sudy Bharadwaj, @SudyB, JackalopeJobs.com
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers make is trying to be better than the next candidate by using others as a benchmark. In other words, job seekers tend to be afraid to separate from the pack or stray too far away from the expected. They don’t want to take chances with their self-marketing.
When I first meet clients, they usually have a mind-set around developing marketing dossiers (i.e. resume, cover letter, bio) that showcase they are qualified. However, most job hunters nowadays are qualified. Therefore, every job seeker’s focus should be to go beyond qualifications, even if that means breaking the mold, taking some risk with marketing, trying a new way fresh way to market their distinction. The reward will be worth the risk of NOT blending in. Raising a few eyebrows is sometimes a great thing! ~Rosa Elizabeth Vargas, @ResumeService, careersteering.com
Hannah Morgan speaks and writes about job search and career strategies. She founded CareerSherpa.net to educate professionals on how to maneuver through today’s job search process. Hannah was nominated as a LinkedIn Top Voice in Job Search and Careers and is a regular contributor to US News & World Report. She has been quoted by media outlets, including Forbes, USA Today, Money Magazine, Huffington Post, as well as many other publications. She is also author of The Infographic Resume and co-author of Social Networking for Business Success.