A job search is like a journey and sometimes it's easy to take a wrong turn and neglect some of the important strategies that contribute to a productive and efficient search. Below are some of the most common mistakes I see among job seekers and some tips for getting your search back on track.
Six Common Job Search Mistakes
Mistake #1: You don't have an accomplishment-focused resume. Job seekers often create resumes that are no more than a laundry list of job tasks. Such documents do little to differentiate you from the competition. Instead of writing about things you did, write about the accomplishment within the task. Rather than saying that you make widgets, explain that you exceeded the company's quota for making widgets by 25% by retooling the production process and eliminating redundancies.
Mistake #2: You have neglected your network. If you don't stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and clients your request to reconnect with them after the relationship has been dormant for so long will be met with suspicion. If you only reach out to your network when you need a favor, your network will dry up very quickly. Find ways to remain involved in the lives of your acquaintances, colleagues, and clients and plan to give more than you get. Create natural touch points for staying connected. Send articles that you think might be of interest to your network or create a personalized e-card to recognize someone's birthday. Invite people for coffee and attend events at professional associations.
Mistake #3: You don't have an online presence. Your resume says you are an accomplished professional and a leader in your field. Yet when a hiring manager or recruiter puts your name in a search engine, either nothing comes up or they find others with the same name and can't distinguish you from the others they see listed. Many hiring authorities will want to research your candidacy past the resume and an online search is one of the best ways to do this. Make it easy for them to find you by creating customized online identity, business, and social networking profiles. Some important tools to consider using are LinkedIn, ZoomInfo, Ziggs, and Plaxo.
Mistake #4: You don't have a personal marketing plan. Think about what you want in your next job. Identify the type of position, industry and companies, geography, company size and corporate culture you are interested in. Then do some research to uncover which organizations best match the descriptions of your dream companies and market yourself directly to those companies whether they have an open position or not. Reach out to your network to see if you are connected to someone who knows someone in that company and ask for an introduction. The goal is to build inroads into these companies before they need you and later leverage that relationship when they are in need of new talent.
Mistake #5: You don't have a system for organizing and tracking your job search materials. When you are in a job search, you start to accumulate a lot of information. You may have different versions of your resumes, multiple cover letters, scores of job postings you have applied to, business cards from networking contacts, company research, and job search articles and tips. You need a system for organizing and automating this information as much as possible so you can quickly retrieve what you need and cut down on the clutter. Save yourself the headache of creating your own system and sign up for a free account on a career management tool like JibberJobber.
Mistake #6: You don't have an accountability partner. Being in a job search is often like being on a roller coaster. There are highs and lows and job seekers need to have someone in their lives to help them move forward and remain accountable for their search. Relying on a friend or loved one for support can sometimes be problematic and add stress to the relationship. A better strategy is to find someone else in search and partner with that person to share advice and leads and offer support.