7 Job Search Mistakes to Avoid (and What to Do Instead)
When you started your job search, perhaps you imagined it would take a few weeks, maybe even a couple of months, to land a job. But instead, your job search has gone on longer than expected.
Of course, COVID-19 hasn’t made the job search any easier. But, plenty of people have found new jobs during the pandemic, and you can, too. It may take a little longer, but landing a new job right now can be done.
To make the process easier and less stressful, make sure you aren’t making these seven job search mistakes.
Job Search Mistake No. 1: Applying for Anything and Everything
You figure that you’ll increase your odds of getting called in for a job interview (and get hired) if you increase the number of positions you apply for.
Solution: Know What You Want and Do Your Homework
Before you start your job search, have a clear idea of exactly what you want out of your next job.
Is flexibility important? What about salary? Do you want a fully remote role, or do you want to go into the office a few days a week when allowed to? If you’re looking for a remote role, do you want the ability to work from anywhere? The more you know about what you want out of a job, the better you’ll be able to hone in and narrow down your search.
More importantly, knowing the details before you start your search saves you time and energy. Only apply to the jobs that you’re a good fit for and want to do.
Knowing what you want from a job, though, is only half the battle. Once you find a role that’s a good match, take some time to research the company. Learn about the company culture to figure out if you’ll enjoy working at the company, too.
As a bonus, you can take any information you learn during your research and use it in your cover letter and resume. It’s a great way to demonstrate that you’re interested in the job and the company culture, instead of just saying you are.
Job Search Mistake No. 2: Getting Aggressive
What, that employer didn’t get back to you after you submitted your job application? The nerve! After waiting a few days, you contact the company and request an interview.
Solution: Practice Patience
Job searching can be difficult at times, but you always want to maintain a professional and polished attitude when communicating with any company. Wait at least one week to contact a company after applying, and make sure that you’re pleasant and upbeat when following up on job applications.
Job Search Mistake No. 3: Starting Over From Scratch
You haven’t heard back from any employers, so you figure that there must be something wrong with your resume and cover letter. Sure, it can be irritating when employers don’t respond to job applications, but the thing is, there might not be anything wrong with it.
Solution: Customize Your Application
One of the most common job search mistakes is sending out a “boilerplate” cover letter and resume. You know what those are. Fill-in-the-blank cover letters that talk about how you’re dedicated to _______ profession or job, that you’re a team-player, a good communicator, and you really want to work at _______ company.
Not only do these lack real passion and quality, they aren’t helping the hiring manager picture you in the role.
You’ll have better luck if you send out fewer job applications and instead focus on customizing each resume and tailoring each cover letter for every position and conveying your desire to work for the company. Furthermore, use the STAR method to give specific examples of what you can do for the employer and how you’ll accomplish it..
It’s also important that you know your worth. While that does mean knowing your salary requirements, knowing your worth also means understanding what you bring to the company. For example, say you’ve only worked for large, private, for-profit companies, but now you want to work for a nonprofit because you want to support the mission.
Why should the company hire you? What value will you add to their company? Is it your outstanding work with managing budgets? Your ability to ferret out financial inefficiencies? Whatever it is, know your strengths and explain how you will be an asset to the company.
Job Search Mistake No. 4: Giving Up
Maybe the role was a little bit of a reach given your experience. Or perhaps you appear overqualified. Whatever it is (or isn’t), you’re just so frustrated that you figure a new job is not meant for your future.
Solution: Try Fresh Tactics
While taking a job search break can be a good idea, don’t give up entirely.
Start by taking a deep dive into your work history and identify your transferable skills. Maybe you don’t have exactly what the employer is looking for, but you’ve got similar enough skills that you’d still be a great fit for the role. Take those skills and highlight them on your cover letter and resume, explaining to the employer how you’ll put these skills to work.
You can also attend some webinars or enroll in online certification courses. Furthermore, stay social by connecting with friends and family, so you don’t find yourself in a job search bubble. And create a job search plan with milestones and check-ins to help keep you on track and accountable.
Job Search Mistake No. 5: Taking the “Easy” Route
Whether you think it’s valid or not, employers generally have reasons for asking certain questions or for particular information. If nothing else, not following the directions certainly won’t make the employer confident that you’ll follow directions if they hire you.
Solution: Apply With Care
Read the job posting over carefully and make sure you follow the instructions. If they ask specific questions, make sure you address those in the cover letter.
If the company reaches out to you via email, read it carefully. It’s completely acceptable to ask for clarification when needed, but before you fire off an email to ask a question, look back at all your information to be sure it hasn’t already been answered.
Job Search Mistake No. 6: Stretching Too Far
You might think that everyone stretches the truth a little bit on their resume. Someone’s “proficient in” may really only translate into “can use it.” But stating that you are proficient in something when you’ve never touched it (whatever it is) is a little more than “stretching” the truth.
Solution: Don’t Misrepresent Yourself
Chances are very good that the less-than-honest information you gave will catch up to you. The long-term implications are simply not worth the short-term benefits.
Job Search Mistake No. 7: Ignoring Feedback
Maybe you asked your neighbor to look over your resume, and they had a few “suggestions” to improve it. Or you participated in a mock interview and didn’t like what you heard about your performance. Whatever it is, you not only don’t like the feedback, you disagree with it and actively ignore it!
Solution: Welcome Feedback
Feedback is always hard to hear, no matter how constructively or positively it’s presented. But, no matter how uncomfortable, learning from feedback is the best way to grow. While you may not want to actively solicit feedback, when you do receive it, listen to the feedback and see what points are fair. Then take that input and incorporate it into what you’re doing.
It’s easy to make these common job search mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up if you do. The important thing to remember is that a job search is a journey, and that journey can take time. There may be bumps along the way, but if you course-correct now, your journey to a new job will take less time and be more fruitful.
Sometimes the best way to course correct is to get an expert opinion. Consider scheduling a session with a FlexJobs Career Coach to get personalized feedback and job searching tips.
Don’t forget to share this article with friends!