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The 7 Most Common Job Seeker Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Avoid these mistakes when writing a resume!

We’re all aware that the job market is terrible right now. If you’re looking for work, chances are you’ve sent out a lot of resumes and haven’t received a positive response. Perhaps you are getting interviews but not getting the job. Maybe it’s time to stop blaming the economy and start rethinking your job search strategy. Perhaps you’re making some errors. Take a look at the seven most common mistakes that job seekers make below.

Avoid these 7 mistakes when applying for a job and writing a resume

Mistake #1:

Failure To Showcase Your Strengths

If you haven’t looked for work in a while, you should be aware that things have changed. The job-search process is evolving, from newspaper job postings to submitting a resume. The Internet has made things easier while also making them more complicated. You can now send out 100 resumes or more in an hour thanks to email. Your competitors can do the same. More resumes result in an overburdened Human Resources (HR) Department. It’s easy to get lost in that kind of setting. You must find a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd! When bidding on a position, it is critical that you evaluate yourself and make a list of what you are good at and where you need to improve.

You will be prepared to discuss your value proposition and what you can offer the company if you are aware of your strengths.

Identify your skills

You should be able to highlight your skills and abilities from the perspective of the hiring manager. Many job seekers struggle to articulate what they can bring to the table because they don’t want to be perceived as a braggart. This is not the time for modesty or shyness. The hiring manager is looking for someone with a distinct set of skills to assist them in resolving their problem! It is critical that you demonstrate to your prospective employer what you are capable of. The key to landing the job you want is to persuade the manager that you are the right person to solve their problems and make their lives easier. It’s time to put on your salesperson hat. You must sell yourself!

Quantify results

This is your ticket to obtaining interviews that will result in job offers. The language of business numbers so tries to quantify the results you have had in previous positions using numbers.

Don’t be a jerk

This appears straightforward, but it is critical to walk the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Do not undersell yourself, but be careful not to come across as a jerk.

Mistake #2:

Failure To Create A Winning Resume

In your job search, your resume is likely to be the most important marketing tool you’ll use. A resume enables potential employers to see how you can assist them. Demonstrate a clear work history with quantifiable results in the past. An HR recruiter or hiring manager will give your resume about 8 seconds of their time. As a result, it is EXTREMELY important that your resume stand out! If you can’t make your case in 8 seconds, your resume will be tossed into the “no thanks” pile. That is not what you want! Today’s resumes must include two components: a clear professional summary and quantified statements of past performance.

Employers do not seek “employees.” They are looking for someone who can assist them in resolving their issues. To stand out, you must demonstrate that you understand their problems and that you are uniquely qualified to solve those problems (see Mistake #1). One common mistake that job seekers make is attempting to include too much information on their resumes. “More is better,” isn’t it? WRONG! When it comes to getting past the first screening, less is more. Your resume should be targeted and focused. Errors will result in your resume being discarded! Check your resume for errors at least three times before submitting it to a prospective employer.

Have someone proofread it for you to catch any errors you may have missed. After researching the company or position, format your resume to meet the requirements of the job posting. More importantly, demonstrate to the hiring manager how you can assist him or her in resolving business issues! Give them examples from your past to demonstrate how you can help them sleep better at night. Your resume should be tailored to the job for which you are applying. For example, if you’re applying for a job in accounting, you should include a detailed description of your accounting experience. Include nothing that isn’t relevant to the position. Unless you’re applying for a job as a veterinarian, don’t tell us about your pet iguana.

Do demonstrate how you assisted your previous employer in reorganizing their bookkeeping system, saving them tens of thousands of dollars. It is best to keep the resume to one or two pages in length. Anything longer than two pages will not be read. Keep in mind that you only have eight (8) seconds to make an impression. Make good use of them!

Mistake #3:

Failure to Have a Plan

Having (or not having) a strategic plan for the job search may be the ONE thing that distinguishes job seekers who receive multiple offers from those who continue to run into dead ends. Many job seekers waste a significant amount of time in their job search by doing the wrong things. As a result, the search takes longer, and the chances of finding a good fit are reduced. Job seekers who don’t have a plan take nearly twice as long as those who do (and stick to) one. Job seekers who have a plan devote time to important activities that will yield results in their job search. Those who do not have a plan may appear to be “busy,” but their efforts are frequently futile. “Being busy” should never be confused with “being productive.”

If you want to avoid making this mistake, you’ll need a well-thought-out strategy for locating the ideal career for this stage of your life. Because they are overwhelmed by the need for a paycheck, job seekers who do not have a plan for their job search often settle for something that isn’t quite right. Those who stick to a well-planned strategy frequently find themselves trying to decide which of several offers to accept! Wouldn’t you give anything to have that problem? You will need to follow a system in order to create an effective plan.

There are numerous systems available. They may appear different, but the good ones adhere to the majority of the same fundamental principles. The best systems will shorten your job search, assist you in negotiating a higher salary, and help you find a job that is a good fit for you at this point in your life.

Think for a minute, what process or system are you currently using in your job search? Is it working? Would you benefit from exploring other options?

Mistake #4:

Failure To Network

It is estimated that networking referrals account for 60% (or more) of all job searches. If you aren’t introduced directly to a hiring manager, your resume is tossed into a pile with hundreds of others. If it ends up in that pile, your chances of ever speaking with a real person are effectively nil! Having said that, sitting in front of a computer all day is NOT a good way to find work. We advise job seekers to avoid using computers during daylight hours. Get out of the house and in front of as many people as possible. That is networking, and it works!

Referrals get interviews.

A referral from a company employee can go a long way toward securing an interview. A typical company may receive hundreds of job applications, but referrals fill more than 60% of all job vacancies (i.e. networking). When you have a referral, your chances of getting hired are very high, especially if there are another 200 to 500 applicants vying for the same position. If you don’t know anyone at the company who can give you a referral, it’s a good idea to network with other students, alumni, trade groups, social networks, and professional organizations.

LinkedIn is an excellent resource for locating people who can connect you with someone in a specific company. Remember that having a referral increases your chances of getting the job significantly. More and more companies are requiring prospective applicants to submit their applications online. You DON’T WANT TO BE ONE OF THESE PEOPLE IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. However, if applying online is your only option, your job application emails should be polished and well-articulated.

Mistake #5:

Failure To Follow Up

It is critical to follow up on all interviews and contacts. Don’t “sit and wait” for results just because you believe you’ve done your part by distributing your resume or completing an interview.

Consider the following scenario:

Two men apply for the same high-level position at the same company. The first candidate is slightly more qualified. The first applicant, on the other hand, simply sits by his phone after the interview, waiting to hear from his prospective employer. The second applicant, on the other hand, sends a handwritten thank you note as a follow-up. He gives out his contact information to other people he’s met at the company. Furthermore, the second guy follows up with a phone call a few days later to inquire about the outcome of the job interview. The first applicant has not been contacted because he is following the standard “don’t call us, we’ll call you” procedure. Who do you believe has a better chance of getting the job?

The first applicant is slightly more qualified, but because he did not follow up or even send a thank-you note to the interviewer, he will most likely not be hired. If you are still waiting for a job offer and do not follow up on your contacts, your chances of getting hired will dwindle over time. Following up on contacts is a sure-fire way to spread the word and expand your opportunities in business. Hiring managers are aware of this and reward those who take the initiative to follow up. The same can be said for networking events.

Meeting someone at a networking event and then going out for coffee is a great way to start a relationship, but it’s only the beginning. Following your meeting, follow up on any assignments you accepted. To stay in touch, check-in a few days or weeks later. Introduce your new contacts to people who can assist them in achieving their goals. Keep in mind that the money is in the follow-up. Prepare yourself for success ahead of time. Stock up on note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Keep them in a handy location so you can write a note on the same day as the interview or networking meeting.

Mistake #6:

Failure To Prepare

Prepare and rehearse for your interviews, even if they are informational. Allow enough time for preparation after the date and location have been determined. Remember that first impression last, so how an applicant presents himself or herself is extremely important. During the initial interview, employers could easily make a hiring decision based on your attire, the way you speak, or the firmness of your handshake. It is critical to consider the surroundings of the company that is providing you with an interview.

There’s no reason to dress inappropriately or poorly for your interview. In fact, dressing up a notch for any occasion is a good rule of thumb. Don’t underestimate the significance of appearance. Some may argue that a person’s inner qualities are more important, but in reality, you only have one chance to make an impression. Being prepared extends to your professional behavior as well. A survey of 1,400 chief financial officers conducted by a California staffing firm found that candidates made serious mistakes during their interviews. Among the most common errors they made were:

1) Arriving late

2) Having little knowledge about the company

3) Having little knowledge about the position

4) Having a superiority complex

5) Behaving arrogantly

There is no excuse for any of these mistakes because you have complete control over when you arrive, how you prepare ahead of time, and how you dress and act! Furthermore, your online presence should be clean and professional. Eighty percent of hiring managers say they will Google a potential candidate before interviewing them. What results does a Google search for your name yield? Have you recently Googled yourself?

Be assured. Your body language should convey that you are self-assured but not arrogant. Maintain eye contact, use a firm handshake, and avoid crossing your arms to appear defensive. Take note of the interviewer. If you are granted permission, you may wish to take a few notes, but do not devote all of your time to your paper. An interview is a discussion to determine if you are qualified for the job and if you are a good fit for the company.

Dress professionally

Wearing the right clothes is essential for exuding confidence. It is better to be over-dressed than under-dressed, as the saying goes. You can always take your jacket or tie off, but you can’t put one on if you don’t have it on. “I didn’t hire the guy who showed up for the interview in flip-flops,” one HR manager told us. Don’t be “that guy” (or gal)!

Answer questions intelligently and succinctly

Interviewees frequently make the mistake of becoming tense and forgetting the questions that are posed to them. This conveys the message that you are unprepared for the interview. To avoid being sidetracked during the interview, it is critical to conduct research on the company and the position for which you are applying. When responding to questions, emphasize what you can do for the company. Utilize accomplishment statements that provide quantifiable outcomes from previous work experience. If you do not know the answer to a question, it is preferable to admit that you do not know the answer.

Look for the skills or expertise that the company requires so that when the interviewer asks about your strengths and core competencies, you can match them to what the company requires.

Be consistent

What is true for an interview should also be true for the rest of your life. You never know when or where you’ll meet a potential employer. That conversation you had in the supermarket checkout line might just lead to an interview. As a result, we advise that EVERY TIME YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE, you prepare as if you are going to an interview. While job hunting, you should dress professionally and be prepared to give your “elevator pitch” wherever you go. The way you conduct yourself (at all times) is just as important as how you dress. YOU ARE BEING OBSERVED.

Everybody. Don’t underestimate the value of the person who greets you at the front desk or answers the phone when making a hiring decision. Treat everyone you meet as if they are deserving of your respect and attention. Their recommendation could be exactly what you need to get the job!

Mistake #7:

Failure To Ask For Help

Many people believe they can find work on their own and do not seek assistance. In some ways, they are correct. People DO find work without the help of others. However, they spend twice as much time looking for work, earn less money, and have a more difficult time finding the right career fit. Because the majority of people find their jobs through some form of networking, reaching out to others during the job search is a good idea. Simultaneously, you should be aware of those who are eager to take advantage of job seekers.

Because the job search process can be complicated, it’s a good idea to seek advice from someone who is experienced in guiding people through the job search process, such as a career coach or a job counselor. It’s important to seek out the help of friends during the job search, but friends don’t always cut it. They may not have the knowledge to assist you in finding the ideal job. Career coaches and job counselors collaborate closely with recruiters and hiring managers to learn the most recent job-search techniques. Some of those who present themselves as “experts” are, however, not. How can you tell them apart? Here are some questions we recommend you ask a career coach, a job counselor, or even a website that provides help:

  • Does the counselor/coach/website have significant experience in helping people through the job search process? (Experience matters in the job search!)
  • Does the counselor/coach/website utilize a system or model that is proven to be effective? (See Mistake #3 above)
  • Are they are willing to share their approach with you PRIOR to your making a commitment? (Many career coaches offer a free session and many websites offer a trial subscription)
  • Do they have testimonials from people who have worked with them? (You can learn a lot by what others think!)

Asking for assistance in the job search is not a sign of weakness. It’s a signal that you are willing to learn from the experts! People who ask for help often find the job search to be a fun and enlivening experience.

If you are have recently stopped work or left your job due to a serious injury from an accident at work then make sure you see if you can make a claim. Groups such as express solicitors can help you make a claim and get the compensation you feel you deserve.

Conclusion: Don’t Make Common Mistakes in Your Job Search

Now that you are aware of the common deadly mistakes of job seekers, there is no need for you to duplicate them. By contrast, you will enhance your potential for finding a job if you simply:

Showcase your strengths

  • Create a winning resume
  • Have a plan
  • Network
  • Follow up
  • Be prepared
  • Ask for help