Every employer wants something different, making it a challenge to present yourself as the perfect candidate. Yet, simple missteps can consistently sabotage your job search. You might not even realize you're ruining your chances early in the hiring process. Expand your job search toolkit and get hired by avoiding these common mistakes.
1. Limiting Your Search to Open Jobs
Not all businesses advertise open positions, especially if they work exclusively with recruiters. If you only apply for jobs that are vacant, you miss out on competitive roles at top companies. Make a list of companies where you aspire to work, and send a resume with a letter of introduction. Taking initiative allows you to highlight your best qualities and accomplishments without focusing on one specific role. You could end up at the top of candidate list when the company starts hiring.
2. Writing a Fluffy Resume
Don't make it hard for hiring managers to piece together your skill set. Use your resume to give compelling examples of your skills and career choices. Cliché buzzwords and bland statements about your job duties don't differentiate you from other candidates. Provide evidence of your skills by highlighting what you accomplished or how your decisions solved a problem.
3. Restricting Your Search Methods
Try not to stay glued to job search sites, no matter how convenient it is to apply for jobs online. You can get ahead of other job seekers simply by finding creative, personalized ways to connect with employers. For example, one smart networking trick is to find out if your target companies have employee volunteer programs. That way, you can volunteer with the same organizations and build relationships organically.
4. Lying About Qualifications
Lying isn't worth the risk. Hiring managers aren't going to consider you for other positions if they believe you're dishonest, which hurts your job search in the long run. Not to mention, lack of experience usually comes out once you interview in person. And if you succeed at landing the job under false pretenses, you have to worry about getting caught for the rest of your employment.
5. Failing to Prepare References
References are a much-overlooked part of the job search. Both your professional contacts and portfolio should tie in with your resume. Don't assume your references know exactly what to say. Clue them in on the type of jobs you're pursuing and the type of skills or experiences they should emphasize to strengthen your candidacy.
6. Dressing Inappropriately
Your personal presentation sets the tone for an interview before you even say a word. Send the right message by researching the dress code at each company before interview day. Whether overdressed or underdressed, you come across as inattentive when you show up looking out of place in the company culture.
7. Ignoring Follow-Up Opportunities
Gain favor with hiring managers by following up with a thank-you note after interviewing. Employers are impressed by candidates who show genuine interest, as long as you don't overwhelm them with messages. If you don't hear back about the interview, try contacting the hiring manager by phone to reinforce your enthusiasm about the job.
Subtle improvements can boost your competitive advantage in a job search. By making smart choices, you encourage employers to pay attention to your strengths more than your weaknesses.
Photo courtesy of kate hiscock at Flickr.com