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It’s time to stop doing something the same way simply because it’s how you’ve always done it. This is especially true during your job search. Instead, let’s focus on how to flip the script by tackling these seven common job search mistakes. If you're ready to receive invitations to interview or even job offers from the right companies for the right job, a new approach is likely necessary!
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Mistake #1: Building your resume before having a solid direction
When you’re ready to make a career change your first step is usually to update your resume, right? You may hire someone to do that for you or struggle to build it yourself. Typically, jobseekers brain dump all of their work experience and skills into this new resume.
But the way employers find candidates today is often through an applicant tracking system, otherwise known as an ATS. It’s a system that parses your resume, pulling out keywords that they're looking for directly from that job description.
So, if you are building your resume before you have a solid direction, then you’ll appear more like a generalist in your job search than a specialist. Usually, unless stated in the job description, an employer is looking for a specialist in a specific field, job title, or industry – not a generalist.
It’s beneficial for you to gain clarity on your direction, the type of company that you want to work for, and the type of job that you want to have before starting your resume. Doing so will save you a significant amount of time.
Mistake #2: Using the same resume to apply for every job
If you decide to apply for a project manager role, and also apply for a social media management role using the same resume—because you have experience in both areas—your resume is not going to be specific enough to pull out the keywords and the skills that the ATS is looking for in that particular job.
Make sure you’re updating and changing your resume slightly for every single job that you apply for. It's absolutely okay, and encouraged, to do this. Then have your master resume for each type of job that you're applying for (e.g. project management and social media management). Look for keywords in that job description and update accordingly.
Mistake #3: Using a generic cover letter
If you're getting the drift, it’s important not to use generic language, skills, and job search materials. Niching down will only serve you. Similar to what was suggested for your resume, start with a master cover letter.
For each job you apply to, use the master version and tailor it to the company, position, or hiring manager. This will help get you through applicant tracking systems and impress with a solid, thoughtful, and impactful first impression.
Another great way to get that cover letter in the right hands is to email your cover letter directly to a hiring manager. Talk about standing out!
Mistake #4: Only applying for the job on a company's website
The job search is changing. Hundreds of people are applying for the same positions. Unless you have spent significant time making your resume very, very, very specific to that job, you probably won’t hear back from a company if you apply via the “apply now” button on their website.
Instead, use these methods to reach out directly. Connect with a recruiter or hiring manager from the company on LinkedIn or via email. Stop sitting around waiting for responses and feeling frustrated or rejected because you’re not hearing back. Taking action by backdooring the process works much better.
Mistake #5: Letting self-doubt get in your way
This is something we see every single day. Women, especially, are struggling to apply for jobs when they don’t fit 100% of the qualifications. However, the opposite is true for men. They apply to jobs, even if they’re only 50% or 60% qualified.
If women started applying for jobs when they are less qualified, we’ll see an uptick in the number of interviews they are getting. By pushing that fear aside you're also pummeling your self-doubt. Ask yourself this question, what does it hurt to apply to a company?
The only thing that can happen—besides getting asked to interview—is that you don’t hear back. And that's okay.
So, put yourself out there. Do your best in applying and reaching out to someone that can help move your application in the right direction, faster.
Mistake #6: Using LinkedIn to talk more about your job search than your zone of genius
Unfortunately, this is happening so much lately. Candidates that are outwardly looking for jobs often go onto LinkedIn and let their community know. It’s appropriate to tell your network you’re job searching if you feel comfortable doing so, but talking about all of the struggles, troubles and problems with the job search process isn’t in your best interest. Remember, you’re trying to get hired by a company.
Rather than talk about the problems you've encountered and how hard your job search has been, flip the script and post about topics that you know could benefit a company. Let's say you really know your project management stuff. You could share a lot of value with other PMs and companies looking to hire project managers. It’s more appealing to a hiring manager if they see you are a thought-leader in the project management space. They aren’t interested in looking at your activity on LinkedIn and seeing your complaints about the job search.
Mistake #7: Thinking networking isn't for you
This seems to be especially true for introverts. But networking doesn’t have to be scary or hard – and most of the time it can be done online. Showing up, especially on places like LinkedIn, and in groups and communities where people are posting jobs every single day, is the way to get in the door faster.
Make it a goal to start talking to people that can help you significantly in your job search.
This could mean a recruiter, a hiring manager, or an employee at the company. There are ways, even for introverts, to network and talk to people in an easy way that doesn't feel “salesy” or like you are pushing yourself on someone else and taking away their time.
If you find yourself making any of these seven job search mistakes, it’s time to course-correct. You’ll be well on your way to finding the right job fast.
Additionally, one thing I want to share with you is a great resource that you can download for FREE called Bypass the Cover Letter. If you jump on this resource, open it up and take a look at what's inside you're going to see 29 online communities that you can join totally free. There are Facebook groups, Slack groups, and different areas where people are posting jobs every single day.
So go ahead and grab this today to really move yourself forward in the job search process.
I wish you the best of luck. You are on your way to finding not just a new job, but the RIGHT job!