Engage Professionals to Help. Speaking of résumé writers, career coaches, and therapists, one common mistake job seekers make is trying to go it alone. If you wanted to climb Mount Everest, you’d hire a guide. When you’re climbing the job search mountain, engage a “career navigator” to help you along the way!
Ask Others For Help. When someone asks you for help in their job search, you willingly offer it (if you’re able), don’t you? So why is it that we’re so reluctant to ask others for their help when we need it? People like to help other people. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. But make sure you’re asking for the right kind of help. Ask specific questions: “Do you know anyone who works for Company XYZ?” “How did you get your job at Organization ABC?” “Would you mind helping me practice my interview answers?”
Only Applying for Advertised Jobs. Research shows that up to three-quarters of job openings are never advertised publicly. Many of these are filled through employee referrals and word of mouth. And sometimes, you can apply to a company for a job that doesn’t even exist yet. Yes, companies do create jobs. Sometimes they will meet a candidate and not have a current opening that would be a match. In that case, they will sometimes create a new position that takes advantage of the candidate’s knowledge and experience.
Networking The Wrong Way. Second only to not using your network at all is using it incorrectly. Your network is comprised of all the people that you know and also all the people that they know. Don’t just think that because you don’t personally know anyone who works for Company ABC that you’re out of luck using your network. Ask the people you know whom they know. But remember that networking requires relationship building and relationship management. If you haven’t talked to someone for five years, don’t let your first contact with them be, “Hey, can you help me get a job at your company?” Author Harvey Mackay has a great book on this: “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.”
Unintentionally Broadcasting Your Job Search. If you’re currently employed, be careful with your job search. Don’t set up a LinkedIn profile and send out so many connection requests that you go from 0 to 500 connections in a week. Be thoughtful about your job search, and deliberate. Turn off the setting that sends notifications to others in LinkedIn, especially as you build your profile. Don’t apply to job postings that don’t specify the employer. (That perfect job you’re applying for might be your current position!) And be sure to let any recruiters you’re working with know that you’re conducting a confidential job search.
Do Your Homework. You wouldn’t buy a car without researching the brand, make, and model a bit first, would you? Then why would you go to an interview without first doing a Google search on the company, looking at their website, and studying what they do? It’s easier than ever these days to not only research the company, but also the person interviewing you and you may even be able to find out the salary range for your position at that company!
Ask What the Next Step Is. You’re finishing the interview. The interviewer asks if you have any questions. You don’t ask any. They shake your hand and you leave. You’ve missed a huge opportunity. Thank the interviewer for his or her time. Tell them you’re very interested in the position and then ask what the next step is! “Is there anything else you need from me at this point? What’s the next step? Can I follow up with you next week if I haven’t heard back from you? Would you prefer I call or send you an email?”
Badmouthing Your Current Employer. Even if you’re unhappy in your current job, keep that to yourself. Don’t post negative status updates on social media and do not say anything about your current employer when interviewing for a new job. Stick to phrases like, “I am looking for a new challenge,” or “I’m looking to use my skills and experience in a new setting, and when I heard about this opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Follow All the Way Through. Sometimes you’ll apply for a job, get selected for an interview, and not get the offer. That’s going to happen. The question is: What can you learn from it? If you don’t follow through, you can’t use the experience to get closer to your dream job. So follow up! Don’t be afraid to reach out to the hiring manager and thank them for the opportunity to meet with them. Ask for their honest advice about what you could do better in future interviews. Ask about the person who got hired. What qualifications, skills, education, or experience did they have that you didn’t? Sometimes you won’t be able to get an answer to your questions — but imagine how helpful it would be if you did!
Being Prepared For Your Job Search. You need tools to help you succeed in your job search. An updated, targeted résumé. A “complete” LinkedIn profile with at least 150 connections. Cover letters. Thank you letters. Answers to the top 20 interview questions you might be expected to answer. You wouldn’t go into battle unarmed; don’t go into a job search unprepared.
Thank People Who Have Helped You Along The Way. Once you’ve successfully landed your new job, don’t forget to go back and thank those people who helped you with your job search. That will help ensure they’re willing to help you the next time you’re looking to make a move.
Jennifer Owenby offers her combined expertise as a recruiter along with training as a professional resume writer. Please visit ONB Professional Resume Services for additional information and scheduling an appointment. Also, visit here for LinkedIn Profile Services.