Smart guys have a strategy and a back-up plan and know how to double check their execution to ensure that they land the job. Check the collection of common job seeker mistakes to avoid missing out.
Over the years I have witnessed every hiring, interviewing, resume, cover and negotiation mistake there is. Here at TDJS we continue to see all the common job search mistakes when we review job seeker documents or prepare candidates for their upcoming interviews.
You probably know what many of these slip-ups are. We or other insiders have said it several times. Yet you (and hundreds of other job seekers) continue to make these common job search mistakes.
From those who see these job search mistakes over and over, here is a collection of the most common ones. Some of them may encourage you to re-visit your job seeker strategy.
You take ‘no’ as a final answer
No usually only means ‘no’ for the position you applied for – nothing more and nothing less. If you are fortunate enough to receive a rejection email or letter for a job you should send a thank-you note and thank the employer for the opportunity, and wish them well. No one does that. When the next opening comes around, they just might remember you,”
You turn up your nose at job descriptions
Entry level and mature age job seeker are often very hesitant to pitch for a position unless the job sounds like their ‘dream job’ or they have all the qualifications listed. Instead of going on an interview to get more information, they often base decisions about applying on the job description alone. They miss out, because they fail to see that all interview experience is a valuable learning experience, or that, until there is an offer on the table, there is no decision to make. It doesn’t matter if you are an experienced job seeker or a first timer – each interview is an opportunity.
Not another ‘death by bullet point’ resume please …
Bullets are effective but they need context. Keep them to one line and write in a manner that the content is focused on a result. Try including something tangible like a fact, percentage or a number.
Your thank you note sucks
Don’t be too wordy with a thank you note after an interview. Avoid sending a note that sounds like an essay or another cover letter as you might come across as desperate and needy for a job. However, sending a one or two sentence thank-you note comes across as job seeker lethargy, not well thought-out and potentially could be construed as a lack of interest in the recruitment firm. We tend to recommend to our candidates to keep them to four to eight sentences.
You are demonstrating a diffuse strategy
Looking for a job in just any industry because you just really need a job, and using two, three or more resume versions, is going to get the same result as the strategy: diffuse and scattered, A clearly defined, focused and organised strategic approach to your job search will end up with clear results — and a new job. If you need help with your strategy, invest some money in a career coach or speak to some of your recruiter contacts and ask for advice. You never know, they might have a job opportunity for you when you call.
You did not double check your referees
You may smile at this one, but I can’t stress this enough, always give out references that you’ve pre-screened. We continue to hear stories about job seekers giving out references that were never consulted and ‘screened’ resulting in a reference’s feedback being less than flattering. I also strongly suggest that your references are predominantly managers. An occasional colleague is okay, but relatives and friends really don’t carry that much weight in helping you to secure a new job. Don’t spoil all your hard work because you slacked off on your references.
You tend to work with one option at a time
We hear it all too often that candidates tend to think that if they interview for a job they will get an offer, so they do not apply and interview for multiple positions. Many job seekers wait until one plays out completely, putting their job search on hold until they know for sure one way or the other. Is that wise? Not really!
You need to have many irons in the fire to diversify the risk and disappointment that is inevitable when any single opportunity doesn’t pan out. You’re also presenting yourself as a switched on and energetic candidate if you have more than just one option at a time. I call it focus. You’re in the ‘zone’ — a point where you’re in the flow of information and ideas — and that makes you more valuable. But remember, as I mentioned above, stay away from the diffuse strategy – be focussed, strategic and organised.
You are presenting poor business acumen
Savvy hiring managers have many creative ideas to ‘check’ candidates. Some even take the potential hire out for a coffee or lunch for interviews. They may do this to check on some of your personality traits and see first hand how you interact and behave – basically trying to see the ‘real’ you. If you’re unpleasant – maybe impatient or rude – to others such as the waiter or the barista, the hiring manager is going to extrapolate that to how you might function with your co-workers and this is definitely not a good thing.
Your attitude is bad
I learned very early in my career that a poor attitude comes through in telephone calls, conversations and especially in interviews. If you can’t be positive, why should or would a potential employer want to hire you? It isn’t hard. Get enough rest before you head out for an interview. Take a deep breath or look in the mirror before you pick up the phone for that important call.
You list too much work history
Too many mature age job seekers think that they have to load their work history back to their first job out of college or University. No one needs that! All that is needed is the last 10-15 years of your work history. I keep repeating it, but I know that hiring managers spend a maximum of 20 seconds on your resume (1st view) so don’t overload it.
You think it’s about you
It isn’t about you and your need for a job – it’s about the prospective employer and their need to run a successful business and make money. Your attitude determines your altitude, so don’t jeopardise your opportunities by being self-obsessed. Approach it from the perspective of what the employer is looking for…
You overlook temporary positions
Many companies who are starting up or coming out of a business recession want to hire on a temporary or temp-to-perm basis. We regularly hear stories of contractors who were offered permanent positions after they have proven themselves. If a permanent position becomes available and you already have your foot in the door and have proven yourself in a temporary or contracted role, your chance at getting that permanent position is way higher. These sorts of jobs often never even make it to the open job market as they are filled internally – so if you have the opportunity to land a temporary or contracted position, grab it.
I also hear many personal stories about financial stress during job search periods and I always suggest to review the option of temp work. A temp position can help you to pay some bills and remove some of that money stress. Think of it as an audition for a potential permanent position, or at least a way to get a good reference for another position.
You show your work email address on your CV
We regularly receive resumes and application documents with work email addresses. Ouch! Don’t do this. It sends a negative message to potential hiring managers that you will not hesitate to use their equipment for personal use and that you don’t pay attention to detail.
You are messy
A messy appearance or briefcase can imply the person is unorganized, careless and unprepared, and that their work will be similar. Someone who presents him or herself as neat, clean, organized and prepared in all areas conveys that they’re serious about getting a job and working.
You lack tact
Be focused and show determination without being pushy. Calling or emailing to ask about the status of your resume or interview can be a double-edged sword. A courteous follow up can place you top of mind with the hiring manager, while incessant calling or emailing can push your resume right into the bin. The worst callers are candidates with unorganised rambling voice messages. Don’t be a stalker. Keep your message short and professional and start with your return call details. I highly recommend practicing your voice mail message before calling so that you are prepared.
You have not ‘cleaned up’ your online act
I can’t stress it enough that it’s very important to clean up your online history / presence. Your potential employer is probably going to look you up online, so you should check what is out there about you. Clean up what you can, check your privacy settings on social networks and if it is something you are struggling with – revisit my blog post on the subject. You’ll find some useful insight, hints and tips.
As always, feel free to comment and to share any insight and tips that you may have on this topic.