By Gerald Walsh ©
Everyone makes mistakes now and then. But in a competitive job market, the smallest of mistakes, even a minor typo or grammatical error, can cost you a chance at a good job.
We’ve seen lots of blunders over the years. Here are the ten most frequent job searching errors and how you might avoid making them.
1. Relying solely on job boards as your main source of leads.
You’ll never find a job sitting at home. Yet many people still use this passive and largely ineffective route to find a job. To increase your odds of finding a decent job, identify and target specific organizations that are of interest to you—even if there are no job openings there right now—and make a connection with them.
2. Applying for jobs before you really know what you are looking for.
Before launching a search, think carefully about what you want in a job. Consider factors like: type of work, industry, company size, location, culture, job security, work life balance, advancement opportunities, professional development, benefits, and, of course, compensation. Having a clear, ranked list will save you a lot of time applying for jobs that won’t fit your needs and expectations.
3. Submitting a poorly - written resume.
Well-crafted resumes are rare. Take care to ensure your qualifications and experience stand out. Your format should be visually appealing. This means plenty of white space, a clean, easy-to-read typeface, font size between 10 and 12 points, and, of course, no typos or spelling errors.
4. Not including a cover letter with your resume.
Most candidates do not bother writing a cover letter, or if they do, it’s not well prepared. It’s not that hard to stand out from the rest. Your cover letter should explain who you are professionally and how your background relates specifically to the job you are applying for. Use a professional tone and inject enthusiasm, personality, and even humour in your writing.
5. Presenting yourself poorly in an interview.
Even if you have impeccable qualifications and great answers to the interviewer’s questions, bad body language and other non-verbal behaviour can influence how you're perceived. Nothing builds a favourable impression like a strong handshake and friendly greeting. Once seated, relax and lean slightly forward in a comfortable pose that projects confidence and interest. And always try to match your dress to your audience as closely as you can.
6. Under-selling yourself during the interview.
Normally, humility is good. But too much humility can quickly rule you out as a candidate. The interview is not the time to hold back and under-sell yourself. Find the right balance between humility and over-confidence.
7. Visible nervousness during the interview.
While some interview anxiety is fine, more noticeable nervousness—like trembling hands, a shaky voice, or an inability to think straight—can eliminate your chances right away. Good preparation, including conducting mock interviews, is the most effective way to cope with interview nerves.
8. Having no questions prepared for the interviewer.
If you don’t have questions, you will come across as disinterested and unprepared. Plus you have lost a good opportunity to determine if the job is the right fit for you. Your questions should be about the job, the organization, and the people. Avoid questions about compensation and information that is readily available on the company’s website.
9. Under-valuing yourself in salary negotiations.
Come prepared with an idea of your market worth. Other job postings, online salary calculators, and industry associations are reliable sources of salary information. You want to avoid asking for too much and losing the opportunity, or asking too little and being underpaid. Remember mistakes made at this point can cost you thousands of dollars in the long run.
10. Not gathering enough information on a company’s culture—before accepting the job.
Before accepting an offer, try to get to know your immediate boss better. This will be your most important relationship and one which will have a big impact on your happiness and growth. You should also meet with your prospective co-workers and speak to former employees, customers, suppliers, and consultants who may be able to give you an unbiased, objective assessment of the company’s culture.
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Gerald Walsh is an executive recruiter, career coach, public speaker and author. He is the author of “PINNACLE: How to Land the Right Job and Find Fulfillment in Your Career.” You can follow Gerry on Twitter @Gerald_Walsh