Been searching for a job but aren’t getting the results you want? Take a look at the following top job search blunders to make sure you aren’t undermining your own job search success!
Mistake # 1:
Acting as if the job search is about you
From your perspective, of course you want a job. Therefore, it’s only natural to assume that the process of searching for a job is all about you. But when it comes to hiring, it’s about the company.
Organizations don’t hire people because they want to give people jobs. They hire people because they have a specific need that must be met.
Unless you can demonstrate how your skills and strengths can help meet a specific need of an organization, you simply aren’t relevant to that company… even if you’re the most highly skilled person in the world. Discover the needs of the target company first, then position yourself as the best solution to those needs.
Mistake # 2:
Not knowing yourself and your value
Starting a job search without first understanding your career interests, skills, values, and ambition is like starting a road trip without a map. You can drive forward, but you probably won’t end up where you want to be.
What gets you excited in life? What are you most proud of? What do you think you’re best at?
Don’t cut corners here. If you don’t know the answers, seek guidance from a trained career consultant. Self-knowledge is the foundation for your entire job search campaign:
- It will help you determine how to aim your job search at the right job targets
- It will help you communicate what value you can bring to a company
- It will enable you to give others the information they need to help you
Mistake # 3:
Not being able to clearly communicate how you fit what the company needs
Refer to Mistake #1. Unless you can demonstrate how your skills and strengths can help meet a specific need of an organization, you simply aren’t relevant to that company. This requires that you do your homework to discover what the company’s needs are.
Learn as much as you can about the company’s focus areas and needs, and then use the company’s own language to describe what you can do for them.
Mistake # 4:
Not adequately researching the companies you are targeting
You can’t possibly present yourself as a viable solution to a need if you don’t know what the need is.
Use the company’s web site, annual reports, press releases, investor reports, message boards, and sites like Wetfeet, Vault, and Hoovers to uncover:
- The company’s vision and mission (these are important words to play back to the employer
- Key objectives and focus areas
- Key issues (internal or external)
- General financial health
Use informational networking meetings with people who know the company to learn about the culture and what it’s like to work there. Never approach a company unless you’ve researched it first!
Mistake # 5:
Targeting only companies with advertised job openings
It is estimated that approximately 70-80% of opportunities are never advertised. By limiting yourself to only companies advertising your ideal position, you are missing a huge segment of potential openings.
“Backfill” opportunities for departmental restructurings, underperforming employees, and promotions are typically known far in advance by management. But they aren’t advertised in advance. In addition, many hiring managers don’t know what they need until they see it… meaning you!
By approaching companies that fit your ideal parameters and demonstrating the value you could bring to their organization, you may be considered for a position that hasn’t been vacated, or… doesn’t even exist yet!
Mistake # 6:
Sending your materials to the wrong person
The Internet has made it much easier to approach companies. Too easy. Companies receive hundreds, often thousands, of emailed resumes. Where do most go? To the Human Resources Department. Most of the submissions are never even looked at.
If you want to be considered for a position, you must get your materials in the hands of the hiring decision maker.
Start by finding out who it is. If you are making an unsolicited approach, use a networking referral to make direct contact. If responding to an advertised job, follow the instructions – which typically means going through HR. If you don’t get a response, write a letter to the hiring decision maker and reference the fact that you have already sent your information to HR.
Remember: HR doesn’t make the hiring decision!
Mistake # 7:
Not using “Impact Stories” to bring your interviews alive
Resumes are boring to read. They are necessary, but represent the dry, bare bones of your experience.
Resumes rarely convince someone to hire you. What convinces someone to hire you are the stories and examples you share about your past accomplishments. “Impact” stories bring your skills to life by explaining exactly how you used them to get a result. They help the decision maker believe you can use those same skills to solve his/her problems.
Give the decision maker something to remember you by. Share your impact stories!
Mistake # 8:
Not using networking to open the door to a target company
You are targeting a specific company. You have identified the hiring decision maker. You have tailored your resume. You are ready to send an introductory letter with your resume. Right?
Wrong. To the decision maker, you’ll look just like everyone else… a faceless document (or series of megabytes). People hire people, and they listen to those they trust. By getting a referral from someone he/she knows, you are automatically qualifying yourself for consideration. In fact, with a referral, the decision maker is actually obligated by his/her relationship to review your materials.
If you don’t know someone at the company, consider joining an online networking site to find someone who does.
Break out of the pack… get a referral!
Whether you’re a first time job seeker, changing careers, reentering the workforce, or considering semi-retirement, the steps should be the same:
- Take time to discover who you are (your interests/strengths) and what you really want
- Focus and target your job search
- Learn how to present your value in way that is relevant to your target
- Align yourself with the options that fit you best
It’s a challenging process, but one that you don’t have to go through alone. Tap into family and friends, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from a trained career consultant.