Posted by: careerworks | October 19, 2011

Avoiding Common Job Hunting Mistakes

Many people are job hunting these days, but some are making mistakes that are hurting their chances of getting hired. Learn to avoid these mistakes and you’ll be ahead of the pack.

But how? Start by knowing — and avoiding — these10 common mistakes made by job hunters.

1: Being a generalist

Now more than ever, companies look for specialists, not generalists. Develop a personal brand, distinguish your skills and strengths, and design your job search around specific industries and functions. For inspiration, turn to the Internet or a Sunday newspaper and study searches from real-life companies.

2: Building bloated resumes

Employers don’t read resumes — they scan them in mere seconds. Put your resume on a word diet and eliminate the bloat. Odds are, you can lose up to a third of the words without compromising the content. Remove extraneous words and phrases, as well as generic “mom and apple pie” references, to bring your experiences and accomplishments to the forefront. Among the common culprits: “a,” “the,” “reporting to,” “responsible for,” and “strong team player” and a host of other cliche’s.

3: Missing the target

Most job seekers are “self-centric.” Instead of focusing on yourself, focus on your target. Know the job you’re seeking, what companies are looking for, and how you can present your experience to win and hold people’s attention.Your search isn’t about you. It’s about them.

4: Hibernating online

More than 70 percent of successful job searches are the result of networking, not job postings. Resist spending more time in front of your computer than you do in front of human beings. Get on the phone. Even better, get out and connect, face-to-face, with your network and other people you meet along the way. Share your elevator pitch with everyone, whether you’re at a networking event or a checkout line at the grocery store.

5: Sabotaging your networking efforts

The first rule for networking: Don’t ask for a job. Why? Because the sole purpose of networking is to seek advice and information. In today’s world you’ve already asked a person for something: their time. Don’t put an abrupt end to the conversation by asking, “Do you have a job for me?” Seek answers to smart, well-positioned questions and listen for a way to return the favor.

6: Preparing too little (or not at all) for interviews

One of my executive search friends passed over a prospect because when asked in an interview, “What do you know about the company?” he responded, “Absolutely nothing.” (He had even provided the prospect with detailed information on the company plus asked him to study the organization’s Web site). Before every interview, do your homework on the company, from knowing the executive team to learning about key industry issues, trends, and competitors. To really stand out, develop your “First 90 Days” plan for the position and be ready to discuss it.

7: Missing opportunities on social media

Some employers and recruiters may look at your profile online: LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites. Leverage that opportunity and let your online presence tell a story. You’ll need to watch the appropriateness of what you post online; at least you’d better. But take it a step further: Tell your story and tout your personal brand.

8: Having weak communication skills

Communication skills can make or break a job search. Most job seekers sabotage interviews and conversations by sharing too many details. On the flip side, others share too little information, glossing over their successes or sharing what “we” did without spotlighting their personal contribution. Pick one area of communication that needs your attention, considering skills such as listening, presenting, persuading, or messaging, and commit to improvement. Take a class, hold practice interviews with a friend or career coach, or join a group where you can practice these skills.

9: Failing to put in the hours

Being a serious, successful job seeker is a full-time job. Don’t be a part-timer by investing only a few hours in your search. Many people report spending “under 10 hours” per week on their search. Compare that, however, to one recent job hunter who was on a quest to land a new position in six weeks. He set a goal to have at least one meeting every day and quickly learned that would require making 50 to 75 calls a week. He made the calls — and his goal.

10: Going it alone

Flying solo, particularly in today’s turbulence, is tough. Form a job search team that meets or talks on a regular basis. Together, you can add structure, support, and a sense of accountability to your searches. Team members can share new contacts and accomplishments and discuss the week’s highlights and struggles. If someone has had a particularly tough week, others can offer advice or inspiration.

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Responses

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