Everyone makes mistakes when looking for a job. Whether it’s being unprepared for an interview or not disclosing everything on your resumé or application, mistakes are made because no one individual is perfect.
What follows are the Top 10 most common mistakes job seekers make when looking for a job. Don’t fall into any of these traps!
Number 1: Don’t Discuss Your Job Search at Work
If you’re employed, this should be self-explanatory. You don’t want to alert your present supervisor to the fact that you are seeking alternate employment. It’s just not a smart thing to do. Discussing your job search at works also includes having personal conversations about it with friends over the phone, or sending out emails to job recruiters from your company’s computers. Don’t do it. You will get caught, and then you’ll really be out of luck.
Number 2: Don’t Give Out Your Personal Work Number to Job Recruiters
Tying in with #1, it’s particularly bad form if you have a job recruiter call you at your present place of employment for a number of reasons. One, you might not be at your desk when the call comes through and someone you don’t want intercepting it might intercept it. Two, it’s just poor etiquette. Give them your cell phone number at the very least, then call them back when you’re on your break away from prying ears. If in the event that you are called at work by a job recruiter and are unable to speak to them, give them your home phone number and let them know when would be the best time to reach you.
Number 3: You Get Out of Your Job Search What You Put Into It
Jobs don’t grow on trees. A job won’t magically appear out of nowhere and drop on your head. You need to treat your job search as you would treat a job; something that you will do consistently for at least 8 hours a day until you reach your goal. You want to keep your effort up for as long as it takes you to get a job. Your time can be spent making calls to recruiters, temporary staffing agencies, and local career offices. Go to your local university or community college’s career office to have an advisor review your resumé and CV. There are always improvements that can be made. Ask for information on job fairs and local meeting groups for people who are out of work. Take breaks as necessary, but always keep your goal in mind.
In order to get a job, you need to make looking for a job your full-time job, as tedious as it might sound.
Number 4: Don’t Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Looking for a job can be an incredibly stressful and grating experience. Being unemployed and having little to no cash flow is also incredibly wearing. Be sure that you are taking your vitamins, getting enough sleep, and are eating a satisfactory diet. The last thing that you want to be while working on a job search is sick with stress. If you can find a place that offers meditation courses for free, sign up for them. During one of your breaks, get up and get out. Go for a walk. If you can’t go outside, do some push-ups or some crunches in your home, run in place, or do jumping jacks to get your blood flowing. Exercise releases endorphins which relieve stress. Eat a well-balanced diet, avoid caffeine, and drink plenty of fluids. When you’re stressed out, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode and shuts down. You need to train your brain to know that being unemployed isn’t a death sentence; it’s just a pothole you need to drive over to move onto smoother roads.
Number 5: Don’t Bank on That ‘One’ Opportunity
One of the worst things you can do while job searching is invest all of your time into one particular position. Why? Because as pessimistic as it sounds, there are probably dozens of other people applying for the very same position who may be more qualified than you are. That is why it is incredibly important to put a lot of leads out there. Utilise social media to put your name out there. Tweet about your unemployment. Post on Facebook that you’re looking for a job with a link back to your Linkedin page. If you don’t already have a Linkedin page, make one, connect with people, and see who you know.
Even if you only have one particular talent, there are probably dozens of jobs for that talent alone; don’t throw your application at one place and forget about all the others. Throw your application at all of them. The worst that could happen is that they could all turn you down for another candidate, but all it takes is that one company who says ‘yes.’ The more leads you have out there, the higher a success rate you will have by sheer force of numbers alone.
Number 6: Don’t Get Discouraged
Being laid off is horrible. Being unemployed is horrible. What’s worse is not being able to get back into the groove of things and emotionally lift yourself up enough to start looking for a job. If you’re having difficulty with this, find a support group. Talk with a job counselor or a social worker to help you get through it. Do something uplifting like spending some time with family and friends. Surround yourself with people who will support you and encourage you rather than feed into your despair, and always remember that sometimes job opportunities will present themselves when you aren’t looking. Feeling discouragement is normal, but letting it completely consume your life is counterproductive.
Number 7: Getting Distracted by the Mundanities of Life
We all have busy schedules outside of work, even when unemployed. Some of us have children. Some of us have elderly family members whom we care for. Some of us have dogs that need to be walked or cats that need to be fed. Some of us have workout routines and laundry and cleaning to do. Point being, these are all mundane things that either need to be rescheduled for later or passed off onto someone else temporarily, if at all possible.
Write up a schedule or a To-Do List for yourself and stick to it. “On Wednesdays, I will pick up the kids and do laundry. On Thursday night, I will walk the dog. Every morning, I will go for a half hour walk between 7 and 7:30.” Share your schedule with everyone you’re living with so that they are aware of it and can help you work through it. Maybe your partner can walk the dog or pick up the kids from school. Your partner can do the laundry and the cleaning on the days that you’re unable to do it. It’s all about compromise and learning how to deal with distractions. Your main focus while unemployed should be about getting re-employed.
Number 8: You Aren’t Perfect, and Neither is Your Resumé
Face it. You’re not perfect. No one is perfect. And because you’re not perfect, your resumé is inevitably going to have some errors. This is why it is imperative to read, re-read, and get someone else to read your resumé and review it for accuracy. Your resumé is the public face that you will show to your employers. It will be their view into your soul as a worker, which is why for all intents and purposes, your resumé needs to be as perfect as you can possibly make it.
Most career centres and job advisors will review them for free and give you suggestions on how to structure it appropriately or more professionally. It is advisable to keep your resumé to under two pages. By the end of page one, it is more than likely that the employer will have already made their decision regarding whether or not to hire you. You want to catch their eye and completely blow their mind within the first half page. Put your accomplishment statement towards the top and add a few bullet points with some of your more important scholastic or employment-based honours. You want to “get” them right from the get-go. Don’t waste valuable time and space on filler. Get straight to the point about what makes you the best and why.
The only way to do this, however, is to have someone else who is completely unbiased review your resumé for you.
Number 9: Networking and Diversifying
Doing job searches online is wonderful and convenient. If at all possible, however, you should do your utmost to diversify your job search by attending job search meetings, job fairs, or even community get togethers. Networking can be as complex as going to job search meeting and speaking with several potential employers in attendance, handing out dozens of copies of your resumé and business cards, and being a social butterfly. If you aren’t too keen on large social engagements, networking can be as simple as overhearing a conversation in public that interests you and injecting yourself into it: “I’m sorry for interrupting, but I overheard you talking about x. I’m actually very well-versed in x. Here’s my business card. Keep me in mind!”
Also, use a service to print business cards with your contact information on it along with a few bullet points on the back about who you are and what you do. There are several online services which offer double-sided business cards at reasonable prices. The person you give it to might not remember your name, but they might remember what you told them about what you can do.
Post your resumé to a number of different online sites. If you live in an apartment building, leave copies of your resumé in a common area for people to take. You never know; someone in your building might own or work for a company in your area that needs to hire someone with your expertise.
Get your friends and family in on your job search as well and ask if they know of any opportunities in your area. Give them copies of your resumé (or a link to it online) and tell them to get it out on their blogs and other social media sites. You’ll be amazed with the results.
Point being, diversifying your networking and using all avenues of networking will increase your chances of being hired.
Number 10: Practice Makes Perfect
You might think you know the job that you’re applying for, but you will always be thrown a curveball question during an interview that tests your knowledge. Learn what kinds of questions are commonly asked in interviews and practice your answers until they are ingrained in your memory. The last thing you want to do in an interview is come across as lacking in self-confidence because you are hesitant or unable to answer questions.
Practice your answers. Write up questions that you think an employer would ask someone in your position and answer them in writing. Give someone in your household a copy of the questions and tell them to give you a mock interview. Do not schedule an interview until you are confident that you will be able to hold your own and answer any question they might have. Be ready to discuss your faults in positive terms. For example, “Sometimes I’m such a perfectionist that I want to make sure that everything is right, which means it might take me longer to complete a project,” and not “It takes me a really long time to finish stuff.” Always stay positive.
Most importantly, be confident. Dress nicely, brush your teeth, and chew a breath mint before you go in. Take deep breaths and be yourself. You know what you’re doing!
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