Every day I speak with dozens of job seekers. Over the course of these conversations, you wouldn’t believe how often I hear the same stories, frustrations and faulty tactics for landing a new job. I’ve found that every job seeker I meet, without exception, is guilty of at least one (or more) of the following “sins” of job searching. The question is: how many are you guilty of committing?
Sin #1 - Spending too much time relying on job boards, recruiters and headhunters.
If you’re like most job seekers, you spend the majority of your time on the “click and pray” approach. This approach requires an extraordinary amount of effort to be put into creating profiles and submitting resumes online—hoping that you’ll be one of the lucky few that make it through the keyword filters, pass the 7 second recruiter "eyeball" test, and grab the attention of the hiring manager. Or, maybe you’ve decided to use a headhunter? Unfortunately, many job seekers believe that headhunters work on their behalf. Headhunters are regularly contacted by job seekers (who pay them $0) and employers (who pay them 30% of starting salary). This makes it pretty clear who they're working for.
Sin #2 – Blending in with the other qualified candidates.
Many job seekers believe that employers care most about the following: job titles, years of experience, responsibilities, “brand name” past employers and salary history. In reality, none of these are what truly matters to a prospective suitor. Instead, hiring managers are most concerned with how can you make them money, save them money and/or save them time. If you are serious about separating yourself from other candidates, your cover letter, resume, LinkedIn profile, interview preparation and outreach messages must all clearly convey your unique value proposition.
Sin #3 - Overanalyzing outcomes instead of focusing on daily production.
Job seekers often spend several hours each week reading "expert advice" created by journalists or bloggers who often have not tested or validated their advice. In fact, maybe you’ve recently read an article titled something like, "The 3 Tips You Need to Build a Killer LinkedIn Profile—Which Landed Me 87 Interviews in Just 2 Weeks!" These articles are dangerous because the advice often seems logical… so you make the suggested adjustments, wait for messages from interested recruiters to arrive in your inbox, and then waste a full week complaining about the time you wasted. Ironic, isn't it? Instead of putting your new profile in front of as many relevant decision makers as possible, you found an excuse to temporarily give up!
Sin #4 - Poor planning, organization and communication skills.
Some job seekers get so focused on finding a new job, they fail to evaluate how this life-changing decision will affect the rest of their career. They feel like they don’t have the time or money to be selective and hope everything will work itself out. Other job seekers make sure to do something productive every day. Unfortunately, they don’t create a system to track and manage their approach, so they “wing it” in the name of productivity. But, very soon, commitments begin to slip through the cracks. There are yet other job seekers who write emails, cover letters and resumes littered with misspellings and incorrect grammar. On top of a blatant inattention to detail, their poor planning leads them to answer interview questions in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness style, and including far too much extraneous information.
Sin #5 - Interviewing for jobs instead of cultivating career assets.
Success! You’ve finally lined up that elusive interview! You put hours of work into researching the company, preparing your responses and getting dressed for success. You show up early, shake hands, smile and put on a spectacular show for the recruiter. The two of you hit it off and you feel great about your chances of advancing to the next round. You wait two weeks to hear back (even though they said it would only be a few days) and discover they've decided to, "pursue other candidates at this time." What could have possibly gone wrong? Well, as it turns out, you interviewed with a low-level HR person whose main goal was to find reasons to filter you out. And to make matters worse, because you succeeded at getting an interview, it “validated” that your job search approach is working. No, no, NO! Your goal is not to get interviews—it’s to get interviews with the right people!
Sin #6 - Expecting someone else to do everything for you.
Job seekers rarely feel they are in control of their own destiny. This often happens because they are counting on someone else (a resume writer, recruiter, headhunter, HR contact, etc.) to do the only thing that matters: get them in front of the hiring manager. In fact, I hear "just get me in front of the hiring manager and I'll do the rest" nearly every single day. The most successful job seekers lack a sense of entitlement and place a premium on personal accountability. When you take accountability for your future, invest in yourself and learn to work smarter to achieve your goal, you get what you deserve. When you rely on others, you get whatever comes your way.
Sin #7 - Fearing failure, refusing to adapt and assuming you know best.
Most job seekers are savvy enough to understand the logic behind each of the deadly “sins” listed above. In fact, I believe many of you will acknowledge that much of what you’ve read applies directly to your own situation. The big leap, however, is moving from acknowledgment to action. You are taught from a very young age that success is the only thing that matters—so the possibility of failing can be frightening. You (and all humans) are creatures of habit and routine—so the idea that you’re the proverbial “old dog” that must learn “new tricks” can feel embarrassing. And finally, you are a successful professional with good sense and a great deal of intelligence—so the blow to your ego that accompanies asking for help can be humbling.
At MeetYourGig.com, we help job seekers implement a job search approach that is built on proven and validated tactics (and commits no further sins!). If you believe you are coachable, then our team has the knowledge, perspective and passion to help you find your dream job.
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