The 3 Key Job Search Mistakes You Need to Address to Move Forward
Throughout my résumé writing and career consulting career, I have spotted job search gaps by jobseekers that warrant serious attention. While these distinct patterns are common among many jobseekers, they can be corrected and translated into empowering results using a few robust strategies.
A lack of awareness about effective job searching and the complex labour market, insufficient self-reflection, lack of professional support, or an unclear focus can attribute to an unproductive job search.
September is "International Update Your Resume Month," signaling the peak of hiring and career opportunities.
Be mindful of addressing these 3 key job search mistakes in order to move forward on more solid footing:
1. CONFUSING ACTIVITY WITH ACTION
Spend your time wisely focused on high-value activities. This strategy could actually shorten the span of your job search and help you achieve your goal faster. Identify and research the exact companies that you would like to work for rather than solely applying for jobs online.
Conduct solid research on a company in conjunction with word of mouth referrals to maximize your results. Before applying online, research companies from all angles starting with the nature of the company, their history and developments, their team, past and present successes, as well as job descriptions of job openings on websites.
Evaluate how you meet their respective experience requirements and skill sets, then connect with key connections via LinkedIn or in person that work in your targeted company to network and secure a referral if possible. Without conducting proactive research, you could interview with a company in a vulnerable financial position -- that is possibly experiencing high turnover. You could accept an offer with a company where the cultural values don't align with your own values. As a result, you may then find yourself having to undergo a rigorous job search all over again and will have to explain an employment gap.
Spend 25%–30% of your time searching for work online. Tapping into hidden job market through your trusted networks can help you reach the hiring manager much quicker and may provide you with valuable insights or referrals that you need to get ahead. Think creatively to secure meaningful work in a growth-focused company where the job postings are not advertised, which may mean in some cases, less direct competition. Note that, 70%-80% of job postings today are not advertised.
Keep track of your job search progress. Treat your job search as a full-time job that includes spending time on effectively branding your documents, but equally connecting with people. Focus on targeting prospects that you can present your unique value to rather than asking them directly for a job. Informational interviews are an effective way of gathering helpful information about targeted companies while building alliances and receiving recommendations that will position you to land solid prospects.
2. REPEATING THE SAME CYCLE OF GETTING FEW RESULTS
If you have a compelling résumé and are connecting with networks, but are experiencing setbacks, identify the culprit. If you are stuck, stop repeating the same exhausting cycle –- break the pattern. The definition of insanity is "doing the same over and over again and expecting different results".
Take time out for self-reflection and assessment. Observe and evaluate what's currently working and what's not, and consider the rationale. Comparatively, note what has worked for you in the past concerning job search and adopt these strategies. Sometimes 'trial and error' can prove beneficial to your success.
Evaluate the quality of your references. Ensure that your references are fully updated about your career goals and job search, and will support your candidacy upon being contacted. References may become outdated after some time. In that case, find new references, confirm their support, and update your documents. Otherwise, you could be leveraging references that may slow down your job search efforts and progress due to lack of credibility.
Forecast, note, and evaluate any concerning patterns in your job search that you think could be deterring progress down or that may warrant change. Do you notice that you are receiving certain feedback that you need to pay attention to? Are you making progress with certain networks or companies and not with others, and why? Do you need additional professional support in certain areas of job search and presenting your unique value? Consult with a trusted and experienced career professional.
Talk to other people in your field and seek support and detailed feedback. Ask specific questions and don’t be afraid to get help and brainstorm with other fellow colleagues and professionals for ideas. Job searching can be stressful.
Follow-up completely and ask for detailed feedback. Many jobseekers apply, and then play the waiting game, or fail to follow-up completely due to being sidetracked by other priorities. Have your mind totally set on your job search plan and goals. Seek feedback on your resume and application if possible as this will guide your job search and enable continuous improvement.
Alternatively, if things are not progressing to plan, consider if you've possibly exhausted your search. Do some self-reflection and ask yourself: Is this the path that you are aligned with and the precise career goal that you are driven by, OR is your subconscious steered by another purpose? Be honest with yourself. It may be time to re-think your direction. Sometimes, career opportunities fail to manifest due to inopportune timing, a skills or experience misalignment, or other personal factors.
3. FORGETTING THAT PEOPLE STILL HIRE PEOPLE
It’s easy to get overwhelmed with technology in the job search--put things into perspective. You need a computer with updated technology and a computer, of course, a cell phone, and/or iPad, as well as a social media account. Yet, focus on connecting with the right person at a company who can help you get hired. Many jobseekers get so consumed by the online world that they don’t spend enough time setting up face-to-face meetings, networking interviews, or building alliances in the real world that will take them further.
Get clarity about résumés and ATS systems. Many clients become overly concerned about their resume passing the ATS system. Yet, there are more than 200 modern ATS systems. As a professional resume writer, the resumes that I customize are keyword-optimized and ATS-friendly. However, every company may have a different method of recruiting. Not all resumes or applications necessarily pass through ATS systems -- some are initially reviewed by a few hiring managers or team members. In some cases, you may be able to bypass ATS systems and further your job search progress by positioning your resume directly in the hands of a trusted decision-maker.
Remember to confirm that the key decision-maker has received your résumé in good order. Many résumés don’t get to the top of the pile because jobseekers often fail to leverage the ‘right timing’ to follow-up. Many times, all it takes is conveying your interest and unique value, your focus, and politely inquiring about an interview.
At the end of the day, ultimately, a human usually makes the hiring decision.
Here's the bottom line:
If you have a compelling résumé to showcase, but are only partially committed to the job search, play the waiting game, fail to show up for interviews on time, or don’t bother to show up at all, then getting few results is inevitable. These are likely factors for being screened out.
The resume is only one part of the job search equation -- it's up to you to take the lead. Job search involves strategic planning and a crisp focus to showcase your unique value, while leveraging chance events and initiating opportunities.
Be open to different opportunities outside your comfort zone. Never rule out valuable contacts or job leads that are worth exploring. You may even surprise yourself with the rewarding opportunities that await you in the process.
Visit www.creativeresumestrategist.com for more information.
Get yourself ready for interesting career prospects this fall. Stay focused, empowered, and prepared. Seek professional support. It is well worth it when you consider the potential results that you could expect!