Have you been looking for work for weeks or even months without success? Are you qualified for the roles you are applying for but still find yourself facing rejection? The job market may be competitive, and getting a job can be tough, but at a certain point, you have to face the fact that you might be getting in your own way.
Many job seekers unintentionally sabotage their own job search by not paying attention to the details. Take these five tips to heart and you’ll be on the road to helping—rather than hurting—your job prospects.
1. You don’t know what you are looking for.
Who am I? What do I want out of life? Everyone asks these existential questions from time to time. While you may never figure out the meaning of life, it’s imperative that you know exactly what kind of job you want. Going into a job search without focus could be killing your job prospects.
For one, it’s hard to write a compelling resume or cover letter when you only have a general idea of what you want to be. More importantly, you won’t be able to effectively pitch yourself and your unique selling points in an interview or even during networking opportunities. Pinpointing your professional goals is the first step towards finding a satisfying role.
2. You’re using the wrong job boards.
Craigslist might be great for buying a used car, but it’s probably not the best place to find a job in PR. Knowing the right job boards and websites to search is essential to zeroing in on the right opportunities.
Identifying job boards that cater specifically to your industry ensures that you have a large pool of opportunities to choose from. In addition, identifying recruiters or temp agencies that place candidates in your industry is another great way to stay in the loop. Finally, identify three companies that you’d love to work for and peruse their job boards regularly to ensure you’re among the first to know when a great position opens up.
3. Your social media accounts aren’t appropriate for getting a job.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but that one of you dancing on a table last New Year’s Eve might be telling a story you’d rather NOT share. More specifically, that photo could stop a potential employer in their tracks. Your social media accounts are your personal brand on the web, and you need to ensure that they reflect what you want employers to see. According to a study by CareerBuilder, nearly half of the hiring managers surveyed said they have found information on social media that has convinced them not to hire a candidate.
If you’re on the job search, be sure to curate the content on your social profiles and delete anything that could potentially be offensive. Ditch the provocative selfies on your Instagram account and trash all those political posts on your Facebook account. These could be considered a liability by a potential employer.
4. Your networking skills are lacking.
Studies suggest that up to 80 percent of all jobs are never posted on a job board. So how do you find them? Networking! In a nutshell, if you’re not out there making connections, you’re missing the boat. And if the idea of wandering alone through a networking event makes you itchy, follow the Three Rs of Networking—Research, Reciprocation, and Relationship-Building—to boost your professional network.
The Three Rs represent the three critical jobseeker behaviors that are proven to make networking activities successful.
- Research: You must do your homework and learn how to network effectively. Networking without a plan is like wandering through the woods at night: it’s easy to lose your way. Planning before you begin will shine a light on the best people to connect with and which events to attend.
- Reciprocation: Networking is a two-way street, and you will get what you give. See a great job opportunity that doesn’t quite match your skill set? Share it with your contacts on LinkedIn. Connecting people in your networks to other people and opportunities will make them more interested in helping you when the time comes.
- Relationship Building: It’s the entire point of networking, right? After planning your strategy and building an online presence, get out into the world and shake some hands. If you’re nervous, bring an outgoing friend to get the conversation flowing.
5. Your resume is less than perfect.
Make this your mantra: proofreading makes resumes perfect. Whether you have zero work experience or are a seasoned professional, recruiters and hiring managers will notice—and often pass you over—if there are typos or other errors on your resume. In fact, one survey found that 76 percent of executives would rule out an applicant over just one typo in a resume.
Use spellcheck, read it over several times, and then send it to a trusted friend for review. It’s easy to miss your own typos and often it takes a fresh set of eyes to catch tiny errors.
Getting a job is tough, but staying out of your own way is the first step toward landing the job you want. Clean up your resume, get your social media accounts in order, look in the right place and learn how to network effectively, and you’ll be ready to tackle the job search and land the right position for you.