5 bad habits that could sabotage your job search


5 bad habits that could sabotage your job search img

Maybe you’ve embarked on a job search, but your best efforts don’t seem to be leading to interviews or job offers. And you’re starting to wonder whether your skills don’t apply to the current job market, or you’re mismanaging some element of your campaign.

Chances are, you’re using outdated strategies that don’t apply to the digital age, or you’re forgetting to do something important as you interact with recruiters. These days, a strategic job search calls for careful attention to detail. Focused tactics that will increase ones chances of being noticed by HR reps and impressing them further as one zones in on their jobs of choice.

Consider whether you may be stuck in these 5 bad habits as you move forward with your plan.

Don’t bombard the market with generic resumes and cover letters

Yes, it’s faster and easier to whip out basic templates for a resume, cover letter, and initial email query, hoping they’ll appeal to every recruiter. Unfortunately, that approach is less likely to be effective in an age when search engines conduct initial screenings. Most recruiters establish the specific criteria and related keywords needed for a given position, then let bots do the work of sifting through online postings and applications to find potential candidates. Once ones materials make it through that initial screening, recruiters will be scrutinizing them further to determine the fit and probable interest relative to the job they’re trying to fill.

As such, it’s well worth your time and energy to zero in on the jobs that really interest you and focus on making those application materials as personalized and relevant to the position as you can.
For example:
-Each resume should prioritize the skills and experiences you’ve logged that most relate to the job at hand.
-Each resume should be optimized to work in keywords relevant to the job in question. The keywords should come from the job posting itself and/or reflect the skills and experiences you know to be important to the targeted job.
-Each cover letter should be directed to the name of the hiring manager or recruiter, not by title or by a generic “Sir, “Madam” or “To whom it may concern.” Research can help you scout out the person’s name.
-Each cover letter should reference the job in question, briefly summarize why you’re qualified for and interested in that job, and (when applicable) mention the names(s) of mutual contacts. LinkedIn may help you identify others in your network who might introduce you or recommend you for the position.

Don’t stick with an old-fashioned resume that focuses on responsibilities.

Back in the day, job hunters were advised to build resumes that simply summarized the tasks they completed in their previous jobs. These days, however, time-starved recruiters want you to cut to the chase and showcase your key accomplishments so they can quickly draw parallels between the skills they need and the skills that are in your wheelhouse.

Research shows recruiters spend an average of 6 seconds looking at each resume; as such, you’ll want to devise a strategic resume that places your “Skills” section near the top so your skillset has a better chance of making an impression. A few tips for summarizing those skills in powerful ways:
-Go through your job experiences and look for accomplishments likely to impress your target employer. Think in terms of how you met challenges, solved problems, and/or exceeded expectations
-Switch out passive verbs for action verbs that suggest proactivity.
-Err on the side of being concise and factual instead of needlessly wordy.
-Look for numbers that illustrate how you’ve tangibly helped employers. Instead of saying you worked in customer service, explain that you “Managed an average 40 calls daily from customers reporting delays and errors, achieving 97% average customer satisfaction rating.”
-Include relevant experiences you’ve logged as a student or as a volunteer.
-Include both hard and soft skills.

Don’t fail to prepare for your interviews

You’ve heard the adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail”? It’s doubly true if you’ve landed a job interview and you’re planning to just “wing it” once you get there. Getting ready for an interview does take time and effort, but it will be worth it when you can relax, have a meaningful two-day conversation and fully impress an employer because you’ve done your homework prior to your meeting.
So what are the most common mistakes made by job hunters as they get ready for their job interviews?
-Not optimizing social media. Your LinkedIn network can be a particularly valuable tool in that it may identify people you know (or people they know) who can introduce you to the hiring manager, give you tips on what to say or do in an interview or even provide you a recommendation. If your wish to publicize your job search, your social media outlets can also be an excellent way of enlisting your contacts for help in identifying openings.
-Not learning about the employer. Always conduct research so you can intelligently answer the common interview query “What do you know about this employer?” and formulate good follow-up questions – preferably some that show you are familiar with the industry. Ignorance will look like indifference.
-Not practicing your answers. List questions that are likely to be asked (check interviewing guides for tips) and decide what you’ll say prior to the interview. Your answers should be complete enough to answer the questions without turning into rambling sagas reflecting your entire life story. You may also want to practice maintaining eye contact while speaking and listening, since it may not come naturally. In one survey, 67% of bosses listed failure to make eye contact as the most common nonverbal mistake made by interviewees.
– Not preparing materials. For in-person interviews, make sure you bring business cards and copies of your resume to present to all interviewers.
– Not prepping for your appearance. Even if your interview is online, it’s imperative that you’re professionally dressed according to company culture, with neat, clean hair and makeup. One survey found that 65% of bosses may use choice of clothing as a deciding factor when faced with two nearly identical candidates.
– Don’t forget to send a thank-you note. It’s imperative that you send a note thanking the interviewer for spending time learning more about you. If time seems to be of the essence, it’s acceptable to send an email thank you; however, you should immediately follow up with a personal, handwritten note sent by snail mail. You might even keep the notecard in your portfolio, return it to your card to write out the message, and come back in to leave it on the receptionist’s desk.
Not only is a thank you note a common courtesy, but you can use it to briefly remind the interviewer of why you want the job. How you might best contribute to the company and why you’d be an excellent fit. You might also bring up anything of your importance that wasn’t asked or answered but do keep the entirety to no more than two brief paragraphs.
– Don’t stop believing in yourself. Taking all the recommended steps for a successful job hunt can feel grueling, and it can be hard on your ego. Not everyone is entirely comfortable with “putting themselves out there” for what feels like a lot of judgment on the part of hiring managers. And rejections are never enjoyable.
That said, if you embark on your job search with a defeatist attitude, it can affect everything you’re trying to do. You may need to make a concerted effort to keep up your spirits and remind yourself of everything you’ve accomplished so you can continue to move forward. A few tips:
– Keep a personal list of your career highlights. Anything you’ve done to meet challenges, solve problems, and/or improve people’s lives. Read them back when you’re starting to feel discouraged -Engage in regular exercise to release endorphins, reduce stress, and maintain your sense of well-being.
– Consciously interrupt negative thoughts with the word “No!” as they’re occurring, and replace them with positive thoughts that emphasize your best assets as an employee and a human being.
-Ask friends and family members to give you pep talks that remind you of your accomplishments.
-Remind yourself that you’re not superhuman. You can’t control everyone’s perceptions of you, you can’t compete with everyone and you’re bound to make some mistakes along the way. The key is to not get so discouraged by your job search that you stop doing the best you possibly can.
It’s so important to keep misinformation or bad habits from interfering with your job search. The extra time and effort you put into doing it right could be just the edge you need to move on in the career of your dreams.

Bottom-Line Summary: Misinformation or bad habits can get in the way of a successful job search. Make sure you’re not falling victim to one of these common mistakes as you hunt for the perfect job.