I’m currently an executive recruiter—haven’t always been and might not always be. For the last decade of my 26-year career, however, it’s what I’ve done every day. Through securing and facilitating thousands of job interviews between companies and their prospective employees, I’ve observed many idiosyncrasies that contribute to the successes and failures of job searches and hiring.
The simple fact of the matter is that most people job search infrequently and it’s an unnatural act. As such, I can safely say that most people perform poor job searches (yes—even those passive candidates who claim they’re just kicking tires).
I’ve already written an article that many have enjoyed related to conducting a successful job search (The Art of a Successful Job Search). I thought it might be valuable (read, uh, entertaining) to publish one related to the most deadly sins of job searching. In keeping with the parallelism of the seven capital vices, you get my top seven most deadly.
1) Don’t assess yourself and what makes you happy. I understand your career is important to you, but I’m assuming your overall happiness is most important to you. Of course, your satisfaction and enjoyment with your career greatly affects that. Understanding what creates alignment between your happiness and your job is where people fall short when facing a job change. If you don’t know what makes you happy, how can you assess what career to undertake or what company you should join? For significantly more insight to aid in this area, see the Top 12 Happiness Factors for Employees and the 2 Biggest Mistakes Career Changers Make.
2) Don’t prepare a killer resume. No resume by itself every won a job. It gets you the job interview, which means make sure yours is polished and professional. Also, for all that is holy in this world, make sure that your social media vehicles such as LinkedIn and Facebook have been appropriately deodorized. Here is a duet that will help: How to Write a Resume That Gets You the Job Interview and The Anatomy of a Top 1% Most Viewed LinkedIn Profile.
3) Don’t plan your day. For unemployed workers, your job search IS your job. Treat it like one. For passive job seekers, you still need to have a strong approach. Your day should be planned and your time allocated based on your demographic because your demographic will greatly affect the medium by which you will find your job. Without providing all statistics, for example, if you are over 50 years old or earn more than $100,000 annually, you have a 46% chance of finding your job through someone you know (networking). If that is the case, why would you spend 100% of your time surfing the Internet? For detailed statistics and guidelines for how to allocate your job search day, see Mind Your Demographic to Ensure a Successful Job Search and How You’ll Likely Find Your Next Job.
4) Don’t target your search. You join a company. You don’t join a job! Targeting your search based on companies that intersect your interests AND your skills are best to pursue. Most companies, for better or worse, require you to submit your information via their online Applicant Tracking Systems. These systems are tiresome and dreadful and fatigue even the unemployed workers. Even so, follow the rules and submit your information. To improve your chances of being discovered, do a little reconnaissance to see whom the right person in the organization is to contact. This is typically accomplishable because sites such as LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and the like usually have this information. Send them a nicely tailored message with your resume. It’s worth a shot. The smart job searchers also leverage their existing and expanded relationships to find that right person to contact. Speaking of relationships…
5) Don’t network, because, ya know, the Internet has all the information about jobs. For goodness sake, has everyone forgotten how to pick up the phone? I mean for speaking, not texting, nor emailing, nor Candy Crush, nor whatever other ridiculous games for which my friends keep sending me invitations to play. I wrote an entire article about networking called How to Build Your Professional Network. It’s actually something you do “on” and “off” line.
6) Don’t tailor your messages to employers. This is all encompassing. It starts with the cover letters or initial emails or the insight you need to put into the dreadful Applicant Tracking Systems and ends with the thank-you notes you prepare to close the loop. If you don’t care enough to send me an email that says “Dear Andy” or “Dear Mr. LaCivita” and can only muster up the energy to start with “Dear Sir” or “To Whom It May Concern,” I can’t find my delete key or garbage can fast enough. I’m not much on cover letters, but I did write How to Write a Thank You Note That Gets You the Job.
7) Don’t prepare well thought out questions. How do you expect to effectively assess whether the potential employer can satisfy your criteria if you are not well prepared with thoughtful questions? That point doesn’t even touch on the great benefit effective questions have in helping sell you during the interview process. See 39 Great Questions to Ask in a Job Interview.
There are obviously many more sins, but those seven have the most detrimental impact. As a parting gift, I’d like to toss in a bonus sin. Be a downer. Because it’s everyone else’s fault. That attitude alone ruins more job searches than all other sins combined. I truly believe we are all of victim of our own vibration and that we get back what we give off. Smile. Be positive. If you need a few more tips on reality, enjoy 34 Things Every 22-Year-Old Should Know. You don’t need to be 22 to enjoy it.
Happy job hunting!