Often, when we’re looking for jobs, we make a lot of mistakes. Unemployed job seekers especially may feel some mild panic as they search for employment, which can lead to rushed applications, which beget mistakes and ultimately compromise one’s job-seeking strategy.
Even the passive, currently employed job seeker may be prone to job-hunting mistakes. These mistakes often arise from being out of practice: when it’s been a while since you needed to look for a new job, you can get a little rusty.
Given the average job seeker’s penchant for errors, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the most common mistakes that job seekers make and offer some tips on how to avoid them:
1. Ignoring Their Networks
The admirable qualities of conscientiousness, skill, and persistence will only get you so far in the job hunt. Research suggests that between 25 and 50 percent of all jobs are landed via word-of-mouth referrals. Often, these openings are referred to as the “secret job market”: a market full of unadvertised positions that companies fill through referral only.
Many job seekers make the mistake of ignoring the secret job market, choosing instead to apply only for advertised jobs. Of course, this means that the average job seeker may be missing as many as 50 percent of the opportunities on the market. To double their chances of finding a job, job seekers should spend a significant amount of time mining their networks of friends, family, and associates for new job opportunities.
2. Failing to Seek Out Recommendations
As mentioned above, referrals can go a long way in helping job seekers find employment. Research shows that applicants who are referred to a job are twice as likely to be called to interview and 40 percent more likely to be offered a job. Failing to or not even trying to reach out to influential industry or company players is a big mistake, one that will certainly reduce your chances of gaining employment.
Job seekers should always try to get a meaningful recommendation for any role to which they apply. They should also make sure to spend time securing endorsements and recommendations on their LinkedIn profiles.
3. Not Demonstrating Cultural or Personality Fit
Modern recruiting has become increasingly focused on team/personality/cultural fit. Even if a job seeker has the skills, they may not be offered the job if they don’t have the right fit for the company.
Job seekers who make the mistake of ignoring cultural fit — a mistake that many, many people make — are seriously diminishing their chances of success.
Job seekers should target employers with which they feel they have a strong cultural or personality fit. Job seekers who share the same values, approaches, and outlooks as their potential employers are far more likely to land a role than those who do not.
Once a job seeker has found a company with which they will fit, they should make sure to frequently demonstrate this fit in their cover letter and throughout the interview process.
4.Only Applying for Full-Time, Permanent Jobs
A lot of job seekers only consider opportunities for full-time, permanent employment. The problem is that there may not be enough of these jobs to go around. Studies shows that a growing number of employers – 83 percent, to be precise – are making more use of contingent workers. Some experts even speculate that contingent workers — e.g., freelancers, temps, contract workers, part-timers, etc. — may soon be the norm.
Job seekers who only apply for full-time positions are shooting themselves in the feet. On the flip side, those who are open to part-time, temporary, and freelance work are maximizing their chances of job search success.
5. Not Tailoring Their Applications/Interview Approaches According to Each Employer
Employers don’t want to hire someone who wants just any job — they want to hire someone who really wants their job. Employers see passionate candidates as more committed, engaged, and, ultimately, more desirable.
However, many candidates take a one-size-fits-all approach to the job search, sending out the same applications to multiple employers and giving the same canned answers to every interview question.
Job seekers need to make sure to show each employer that it is their No. 1 choice — or at least on their very short list. The best way to do this is to develop a tailored resume and cover letter that specifically show an employer why you are both suited to and passionate about not only the job, but also the company itself. A job seeker’s genuine passion should also come out during the interview process, which job seekers can do by making regular references to the ways in which they’ll thrive and succeed at a particular company.
Job seekers can significantly improve their job-hunting games if they learn to avoid these mistakes at all costs. Sure, we’ve all made these sorts of missteps before — but those of us who really want to find jobs need to ensure we never make them again.