Are looking for a job? Have you just been laid off? Have you been out of work for a while? While everyone likes to think they are destined to find the perfect job, it doesn’t always happen right away. Job hunting is a tough process, and everything we do (or don’t do) during the job search process matters.
Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve spent more time online. I’ve joined a couple of great Facebook groups and made new connections through Pinterest and new-to-me blogs.
It’s amazing and fantastic to see the number of people who are successful at starting their own business or making an income from blogging. But I also see there are many people who need or want a job working for someone else. Maybe they’re not cut out for freelancing or blogging, etc. For people in that situation, searching for a job can be a challenge.
Thinking about my own job searches over the years, I realized that I’ve made a lot of mistakes at one time or another. So I started making a list. Now I can only slap my forehead and say, “What was I thinking?” Anywayyyyyyy… hopefully something here will help a current job-seeker make adjustments that will land their just-right job.
You might not even realize you are doing some of these things. But they could be the reason you have been searching for what seems like forever and not been hired – or even gotten an interview. Don’t make these mistakes. If you’re making them, stop. Now.
1) Not Getting Serious Right Away
If you’ve just been laid off, you might be in shock or decide that you are ready for a break. Sure, take a few days to collect yourself and get your head on straight. But don’t think of being without a job as a vacation. The unemployment benefits or severance pay will run out all too soon, and you need a plan to replace that income. Getting back to work sooner rather than later is the best way to do that.
2) Limiting Your Focus
When I first started job searching, I only applied to jobs with certain companies, usually due to their location or reputation. Don’t do that. Apply to everything for which you are qualified (and read the job description to make sure you ARE qualified). You never know, that company you hadn’t heard of before, the only one who calls you for an interview during the first month of your layoff, might actually end up being your dream employer.
3) Not Using Your Personal Contacts
I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to bother people. I tend to research and figure out ways to do things on my own.
That’s a bad practice when it comes to looking for a new job. If you let people know you are looking, they are usually more than happy to pass along any leads they hear about.
Although it may seem as if every job posting is done through a job board these days, that’s not the case. Over half of job seekers still find employment through personal contacts. Make use of that valuable resource. While it may be embarrassing to say you are out of work, suck it up and tell everyone you know in person and online that you are looking for a job.
4) Not Following Up On Leads Immediately
Someone tells you about a job opening they just heard about. You’re busy applying to a couple of good prospects at the moment, so you decide to wait and see what happens before you look into the job your friend told you about.
You can guess where this is going. A week later you get rejection emails from the “good prospects” and when you call about the job lead from your friend, you find out the application deadline passed a day earlier. Maybe that lead wasn’t your dream job, but so what? Look into all leads right away. It’s good experience and you may be surprised at what turns up.
5) Not Personalizing Your Application Materials
Employers want to see that you wish to perform a specific job for THEM, not some vague office position for Anycompany, Inc. Take a few minutes and write a targeted cover letter and resume for each application. Use keywords from the job description in your resume. Unfortunately, chances are it will be scanned by a computer before a human even glances at it for a few seconds. Do everything you can to increase the chances of being noticed.
6) Not Keeping Track of Application Information
When you first begin applying to jobs, you think you will remember where you applied and all of the details that go along with each application.
You won’t. Suddenly you’ve applied to 30 jobs and someone calls you in response to the second application you sent out weeks ago. You need to be able to immediately access that information so you can sound like an intelligent applicant who has their crap together.
Make a spreadsheet or a paper list. Record the date you applied, company name, job title, physical company address and telephone number, name of the person you contacted and their email, company website, where you found the job lead, and any notes you might have about the job — whether it’s part-time or full-time, did you get an interview, etc. If you apply through a job search engine like indeed.com or monster.com instead of through a company website, print out the job information and file it.
7) Not Updating Your Skills
Maybe you are pretty good at Excel or HTML or whatever software is common in your job field. Great! Those skills will work for you! But how does an employer know what you can do? Do you have any certifications? If not, think about taking a class to update and get certified. I’ve applied to many jobs that wanted specific skills, and having a certificate to prove you can do the job might make a prospective employer take a second look at your application.
Or maybe you really know your stuff, but you have been using the same program for the past 10 years. You NEED to update and start working with the latest programs. Most employers want to know what version of job-focused software you are proficient at using. Admitting that you don’t work with the latest version – or anything remotely close to it – will lose you the job.
8) Not Preparing for Unexpected Interview Questions
Don’t assume that just being honest during an interview will get you the job. It won’t. I’ve been asked some pretty odd questions during interviews (nothing illegal, mind you, just very unexpected). I’ve made the mistake of sitting there for too long with a shocked look on my face or staring at the ceiling and then finally blurting out an honest but badly-phrased answer.
Have a stock response ready for unexpected questions. “That’s an interesting question.” And then repeat/rephrase the question as part of your answer, giving yourself an extra couple of seconds to think about what you’re saying.
9) Thinking You Deserve Something Better
I’m not saying you don’t deserve the perfect job, but in the working world, nobody is going to offer you the moon unless you can prove you’re worth it. If you think you deserve better, then you will need to keep working for it.
Don’t be insulted by a low offer and immediately refuse a job. See if you can negotiate. Maybe not. But if it’s a job you think you would like, it could mean you need to take that job for less money and blow them away with your abilities.
If it’s been many months of searching and you really need a job to keep food on the table, take anything you are offered. Work hard, no matter what the job is, and be proud of yourself for getting out there and doing what needs to be done. It doesn’t have to be forever.
If you feel like you’ve been doing everything right and you still don’t have a job, take heart. It may mean you are destined to make a big change in your career. Don’t be afraid to consider doing something new!
Does anyone out there have any “Don’t Do This” tips to add? If you were job seeking for a long time and finally found something, how did you do it? Was it the job you originally thought you would get?