Today the competition for jobs is fierce as employers often receive thousands of resumes for a single job. How can you make yourself stand out from the competition? Avoid these top 20 job search pitfalls as you create your job search strategy:
1. Not building relationships
Networking, or building relationships with people who can assist you with your career goals, is important throughout your career, but during a job search it is crucial. Brainstorm a list of everyone you know such as friends, family, neighbors, past coworkers and bosses and start networking with those you know. Ask each of them to suggest someone else who may help you. Call a few people each day to let them know about your job search. In addition, attend formal networking events such as a business or association meeting. For additional networking tips, visit “Networking to Find Your Next Job.”
2. Having errors in your job search documents
Double AND triple check your resume and cover letters before sending to an employer. One error may land your resume in the trash.
3. Not understanding your skills and values
Before you start your job search, analyze your skills and decide what you can offer an organization if it hires you. Include these skills in your resume and create a 30-second commercial about yourself that explains your skills, values and how you can help an organization.
4. Skipping company research
Before any interview, research the company online. See what you can find about the company through a search engine such as Internet Explorer or Safari and then continue on Facebook and LinkedIn. Make sure you can provide an explanation about what the company does before you go into the interview.
5. Failing to follow the rules
Before you apply for a job, read all details in the job description for the application process. Some employers require you to visit the office in person. Others want an application saved as a PDF file and e-mailed to them. Another may require that you complete an online application and upload your resume. Follow the rules, so you’re not immediately disqualified.
6. Applying for just any job
Instead of casting a wide net hoping to land an interview, your efforts will be better spent narrowing your focus on those jobs you are qualified for. For additional tips, visit “Focusing Your Job Search.”
7. Using just one resume
Customize every resume you send so it fits the job description of the posted opening. At the same time, it is still important that all of your information on your resume is accurate and is not exaggerated.
8. Not preparing for an interview
Many interviews include the same basic interview questions, so it’s in your favor to practice your responses to these questions in advance. Practice with a friend, or even by yourself in a mirror. For a list of sample interview questions, visit www.WorkforceCentralFlorida.com.
9. Having a disorganized job search
During your job search you will be reaching out to many people and applying for numerous positions. After several weeks, it’s easy to lose track of your outreach, so keep a notebook or a file on a computer that lists all of your job search activity. Without this you risk applying for the same job or contacting someone twice.
10. Dressing inappropriately for an interview
This is not the time to show off your favorite outfit. What you wear and how you look will play a role in that important first judgment, so plan your interview outfit accordingly. Wearing proper business attire communicates your maturity and your professional preparedness. Visit “Interview Dress to Impress,” for interview attire guidelines.
11. Sitting and waiting
Avoid the sit and wait approach. After applying, follow up with the hiring manager. If you don’t have a contact name, research. Try online sites liked LinkedIn or call the company and ask. Also, while it’s important to follow up, don’t be a pest. Hiring managers are busy and finding someone to fill a position is not his or her only role.
12. Having a negative outlook
Although you may be struggling at this time in your life, stay positive about your job search and that you will find a job. Avoid sounding negative or speaking poorly about your past employer as this will turn off the hiring manager. For additional tips, visit “Ten Steps to Remaining Positive during a Job Loss.”
13. Not asking questions during the interview
Before your interview, brainstorm a list of questions that you would like answered during the interview. Not asking questions will make you appear disinterested.
14. Avoiding a social media presence
Social media sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter have created new opportunities for networking, job exploration, job postings, promoting yourself and researching. Also, many hiring managers are turning to these sites to research and recruit candidates. Take advantage of these free opportunities. At the minimum, have a LinkedIn page that provides a resume-like profile. For additional help on utilizing new media, visit the WORKFORCE CENTRAL FLORIDA Tips, Research and Resource Center.
15. Spending all of your time on the Internet
Use the Internet’s resources for your job search but don’t discount other job searching tactics such as networking, phone calls, job fairs, association meetings, interning, etc.
16. Omitting a cover letter
A cover letter provides you an additional opportunity to market yourself and to explain your skills. Always include a cover letter, even if you are uploading your resume online. Visit this site for “Tips for Writing a Cover Letter.”
17. Having an unprofessional online presence
Your friends may think an e-mail address such as email@example.com address is clever, but a future employer will not. Keep your e-mail address professional. Also, remove any photos or questionable content from your social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Consider searching for your name on Google to see what appears.
18. Forgetting keywords in your resume.
With recent advancements in technology, many employers are now using applicant tracking software, which scans resumes for keywords relating to skills, training, degrees, job titles, experience, etc. To respond to this trend, job seekers must incorporate keywords throughout their resumes, so their resume will appear when an employer searches for particular skills. Click here to learn how to use keywords to make your job search more effective.
19. Missing the opportunity to send a thank-you note
After any interview, send either an e-mail or written thank you note to every person you interviewed with. Restate your interest in the position and emphasize your skills and experience that make you appropriate for the job.
20. Only applying for posted opportunities
Many job openings are never posted through traditional outlets such as classified ads or online. Contact companies where you feel your skills would be a fit. You may find that a position is about to come open and you may be perfect for the job.