By Ford R. Myers
President, Career Potential, LLC
Many people make significant job search mistakes and never even know about it. These blunders are easy to make, and they can cost you the job offer or lose you thousands of dollars.
Below, I reveal 10 of the biggest mistakes, and explain how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Relying on Online Job Postings
In general, job postings and “want ads” produce little value. However, it is also a mistake to ignore them altogether. Some of the best chances for jobs from ads are in specialty trade publications and web sites of specific industries. I suggest you spend no more than five percent of your valuable time on public job postings.
Mistake #2: Mailing Unsolicited Resumes
Unsolicited resumes are considered garbage, scrap paper and wasted effort. Secretaries kill them, HR managers file them away, and hiring decision-makers pitch them. I advocate abandoning this job search tactic completely.
Mistake #3: Looking Only for Job Openings
Searching only for companies with “openings” is an obsolete job hunting method. The best jobs are rarely listed “vacancies” or “openings.” Rather, many good positions are created for the candidate, often at the interview. The key is to shift your focus from “openings” to “opportunities” (which exist nearly everywhere). Remember: every company is hiring all the time, if you have what they need when they need it!
Mistake #4: Ineffective Networking
Networking should be the primary focus of every job search – occupying about 90% of your time. However, I find that most people go about it the wrong way – by talking too much and by asking for jobs. The best networkers are big listeners rather than big talkers. They have a clear agenda, and are not shy about asking for feedback and guidance. Remember: networking is more about giving than it is about taking, so always come from an attitude of generosity.
Mistake #5: Leaving Yourself Open to Too Many Kinds of Jobs
Another key to a successful job search is to focus on finding the RIGHT job – not “just any job.” Critical factors to consider include satisfaction, growth potential, location, cultural fit, great co-workers, a pleasing environment and competitive compensation. When the job market is really tough, it’s imperative to be more focused than ever.
Mistake #6: Being Unplanned in Your Search
Most people spend more time planning a vacation than planning a job search. I suggest the following tips to conduct a proper job search: a well-thought out methodology, daily solitude and planning, space in the home dedicated to the search, a tracking tool to measure your progress, and a system for accountability.
Mistake #7: Doing it Alone
You pay a mechanic to change your oil; an attorney to create an estate plan. Why would you not invest in professional help with your job search? Career Coaches provide objective guidance, help you articulate your value, and provide a proven system for job search success. Many offer excellent advice on salary negotiations – often exceeding the job seeker’s expectations. If you can’t afford a Career Coach, take advantage of low-cost or free support from non-profit groups, universities, municipal programs, and so forth.
Mistake #8: Letting Others Control Your Job Search
I suggest working with a small selection of professional recruiters – they can serve an important role in your search. But you’ll need to maintain control over the whole process. Of course, it is best to conduct your own research and target the right companies yourself. Remember: only you can “sell yourself” effectively and land a job.
Mistake #9: Not Preparing Well Enough for Job Interviews
When you boil it down, all job interviews are comprised of five basic elements: articulating your value, conveying your knowledge of the company, asking intelligent questions, negotiating compensation, and following-through. Each of these items has to be practiced in advance, so you can “ace” the job interview. “Winging it” just won’t do! Also, be sure to do extensive research on the company and the interviewer ahead of time.
Mistake #10: Not Knowing Your Market Value
You must research and assess your value in the marketplace, so you’ll be able to negotiate effectively. Never disclose your salary requirements – always get the employer to name the salary or range first. The time to talk money is when the employer has made it clear that you are their top candidate, and after they make an offer.
It is very easy for even the savviest of job seekers to make these mistakes. By learning how to navigate these potential pitfalls from the outset, your job search will be more productive and yield more positive results!