Finding a job opportunity you’re really excited about can feel like a miracle, especially if you’ve been stuck in a job search rut for a while. However, when chasing your ideal job opportunity, you need to do more than apply and hope for the best.

It’s time to overhaul your approach and adopt a more targeted, strategic method for finding the next step in your career.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes job seekers make that cost them their ideal job opportunities:

1. Botching the Follow-Up

If you’re sending out dozens of applications and waiting for responses, you’re bound to stay waiting for a long time. You must follow up after you submit your application. My company, Job-Hunt, conducted a survey and found that 51 percent of employers and HR professionals say they won’t consider you if you don’t reach out.

Following up sends an important message to employers. It shows how invested you are in the position. It also makes you more memorable.

Continue reaching out until you get a response. Be respectful and assertive when you send emails. Remind the recipient who you are, what job opportunity you applied for, and how you could provide them with more information if they need it.

2. Staying Vague

When employers review your application, they’re going to want to learn more about you. Specifically, they want to know the domains in which you’re an expert.

Our survey found that 28 percent of employers say the most important aspect of your online presence is your industry-specific knowledge. Don’t leave them guessing about your expertise! Use your online presence to show off your best work. For example, you can create an online portfolio that showcases specific skills you are proud of and that align with your ideal job opportunity.

Let’s say you applied for a video editor role with a media company. When you send your follow-up email, add a link to your portfolio, which should include videos you have produced.

3. Ignoring Social Media

Despite what some job seekers think, it’s actually better to have a small social media presence than to have none at all. Our survey found that several employers look negatively on candidates who aren’t on social media. Generally, employers see a lack of social media presence as a sign that you don’t realize the importance of the internet, you don’t have strong communication skills, or you’re being dishonest about your professional image.

ThumbsSimply put, if you’re not using social media to market yourself, you’re missing an opportunity. Your social media needs to be an authentic extension of who you are as a person and as a professional. Share industry-specific content that interests you and publicly engage with colleagues and industry thought leaders through social media groups.

4. Failing to Create Content

Your online presence needs to offer evidence of your value. The best way to create social proof is by developing content and sharing it with others.

If you’re a videographer, don’t just post your portfolio to show your work. Go the extra mile and start educating people about your process.

Our survey found that employers like to find various forms of content. They consider the highest-quality content to be online courses, instructional articles, and ebooks.

Your strategy should first aim to build a community. In the case of the example, you’re teaching aspiring videographers about best practices for recording, using equipment, editing footage, and other key aspects of your job.

Create a blog and share your instructional articles to gain followers. Consider releasing long-form educational content like ebooks and engaging people with an in-depth online course.

If you’re a leading voice in your industry, employers will see your enthusiasm and notice how you help others.

5. Forgetting to Optimize

Just because you create content doesn’t mean your potential employers are finding it. Our survey found 40 percent of employers review only the first page of results after they search your name on Google.

Learn what keywords you want to rank for, then use SEO best practices. For example, include keywords in your content, build internal links, and use alt tags for images. This way, the best content associated with your name shows up during a Google search.

Applying to your ideal job opportunity is actually a small part of your overall strategy for landing the role. Actively engage in your industry, build a robust online presence, and show specifically why you’re the best person for the job.

Susan P. Joyce is owner and publisher of Connect with Susan on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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