How you go about your job search says a lot about who you are as a professional. We can argue about how closely related our personal and professional personas are, but at the end of the day, I can assure you most companies and hiring managers pay careful attention to how you act during a job search, and this plays a huge role in their decision to hire you (or not).
Unfortunately, your job search efforts can self-destruct quickly. If you engage in the wrong behaviors, you’ll do nothing but harm your own chances at landing a job.
Here are fifteen ways in which you may be sabotaging your own job hunt right now:
1. You’re Moaning, Crying, Whining, Complaining, and/or Begging
Now and then, I see job seekers use LinkedIn and Twitter to beg people for a job. Usually, their cry is to no avail.
Now, imagine an employer lands on your page and sees a post like this: “All I ask is for someone to tell me what I’m doing wrong!” No one is interested in hiring a desperate person.
2. There’s No Depth or Breadth to Your Network
The effectiveness of your connections must be by design, not by accident.
Building depth into your network means fostering relationships with people at all levels in your industry – team leaders, managers, directors, general managers, vice presidents, etc. Building breadth means connecting with colleagues and peers because of their potential value.
Remember: It’s okay to connect with people you don’t know. In fact, it’s critical if you really want to build a deep network.
3. You Limit Your Use of Social Media
Some people assume that posting about their professional lives and their industries will make them seem self-absorbed. Or they worry that no one would pay attention anyway. But you need to offer your followers some value on social media. If you aren’t valuable to your social media connections, you’ll be the last to know.
You obstruct your job search if you don’t look for ways to foster conversations with people who could potentially lead you to a hiring manager or recruiter, whether directly or indirectly.
So go ahead – use social media to foster those conversations. It won’t make you seem self-absorbed; it will make you valuable.
4. You’re Not Doing Anything to Hone Your Craft
When you’re out of work – or not working in your desired field – you still need to be honing your craft. If you’re in public relations, you should be writing. If you’re trying to pass the bar exam in Illinois, you should be studying. Even professional athletes train during the off-season.
Volunteer work is another great way to hone your skills. There is almost definitely an organization in your area that could use your career-relevant skills.
5. You’re Not Staying Vigilant
Opportunities can arise anytime and anywhere. If you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss chances. You should always be ready to present yourself as a great choice. You never know when you’ll meet someone who can help you.
Reading books and blogs, listening to podcasts, and connecting with others regularly are fundamental to remaining vigilant in your job search.
6. You’ve Become Envious of Your Competition
You should know what your competition is doing, but you shouldn’t outright copy them.
Envy drives some to nearly plagiarize content from their competitors or emulate their presences. It’s okay to draw inspiration from your competitors, but you can’t just copy their brands. That’s not authentic, and it won’t give employers an accurate look at who you are.
7. You Can’t Adjust to the Peaks and Valleys of Your Journey
Success and failure both contain valuable learning opportunities. Many of us don’t want our lessons to come at the expense of failure, but it’s often the best way to learn. Similarly, we often desire to taste immediate success without realizing that true success takes time.
The job search is often turbulent. You will face success and failure in equal measure. You must be agile and able to switch gears whenever necessary.
8. You Have a Hard Time Saying ‘No’ When You’ve Gotten Far
It sometimes happens that, when you’re deep into the interview process, an opportunity that once looked great may turn out to be unattractive. Are you afraid to say “no” in these situations?
Consider it similar to being physically attracted to someone whose values are contrary to your own. It’s best to end the relationship before there’s serious emotional investment.
9. You’re Impatient
Not only are you unwilling to wait for results, but also you leave others exasperated after every interaction. Relationships only become mutually beneficial over time. More than likely, you’ll have to give a lot before getting a little.
10. You Think Grammar Isn’t a Big Deal
People scrutinize every message and social media update. Companies desire people who communicate well both orally and in the written form.
11. You Don’t Understand That Character and Branding Are One in the Same
It’s good to see more job seekers are serious about personal branding these days. However, it’s also dismaying to see that many are not careful about what they say and what they post. Your personal character and professional brand are one in the same.
12. You Solely Rely on Job Boards
If you’re just using Monster and Indeed to find jobs, you’ll be disappointed with the results. The most successful job seekers diversify their efforts, using networking, research, informational interviews, and social media to advertise themselves and find new jobs.
13. You Don’t Ask for Help
I understand how hard it is to let close friends and family know you’re looking for work or a better job. You don’t want to appear as if you have failed.
But you should realize that everyone understands your situation. It’s 2016, not 1986, when you could find a new job in a week or two. You might be surprised by who your parents, siblings, cousins, or best friends know.
14. You’ll Take Anything
You may say that or feel that way, but it’s probably not true. You probably cringe whenever someone suggests a job you know you’d hate. And besides, people will back away from you as soon as they sense your desperation.
15. You Entertain Bad Advice
We are lured by what is easy to do instead of by what is most productive. When people start their advice by saying, “All you have to do is … ” it is time to run. The successful job search in 2016 is not about achieving immediate satisfaction. You must be ready to grind.
If you want your job search to succeed, get out of your house and meet people! Attend speeches and lectures. Hit the gym! All of these things will keep you sharp and ready for your next opportunity.
If you become too dull, you may leave the wrong impression on the very person who could help you get a job. That’s why conversations and research are your best friends in the job search!
Mark Anthony Dyson is a career consultant, the host and producer of “The Voice of Job Seekers” podcast, and founder of the blog by the same name.