Whether wittingly or unwittingly, there are common and recurring mistakes job seekers make. These mistakes will either prolong your job search or derail it altogether. Don't let yourself fall prey to them.
Not knowing your value. Your value is determined by two factors. First, what someone is willing to pay for the blend of skills and experience he or she needs and will use; and second, the well-known economic principle of "supply and demand." If there are many people who can deliver the same skills and experience, that drives the price you can command down. To best determine your value, research the going rate for the kind of work you're looking for and understand the job requirements. You can do this by talking to other professionals in that occupation or field, talking to recruiters and using online salary calculators. Figure this out early in the process, because your job search success depends on it. If you ask for too much or too little, you'll eliminate yourself from the competition.
Trying too hard. This reads as desperate. It looks like the used car salesman at a networking event, dealing out business cards like a poker game, or the slick intro that seems over-rehearsed and like bragging. Don't treat your job search like a sprint. This is your new life habit of building relationships and maintaining them. Your career is a marathon and nurturing these relationships ensures a fertile future.
Negotiating salary too soon. When you attempt to negotiate during the interview, you are likely to eliminate yourself from the process altogether. Without a job offer in hand, it is unwise to attempt to reach mutually agreeable terms regarding salary, work locations, paid time off or any other element of the company's benefits. Wait until you hear the magic words "We would like to offer you the job starting on X date and making $Y." This is your signal to begin negotiating.
Not asking for help. Many try the job-searching thing all alone. They spend endless hours applying for jobs online, which not only gets tiring, but also has a lower chance of translating into a job offer. Worst of all, it gets depressing. Some people even keep their job search a secret from their families, thinking they won't understand or be supportive. Start asking for advice and insight from those you know will be most helpful. Additionally, carve time into your day to reconnect with past colleagues, attend job seeker networking groups or even alumni groups. The good news is that everyone today knows someone who has lost a job due to no fault of their own. They will be empathetic; just give them a chance.
Sending mass mailings. A mass email announcing your unfortunate layoff or asking to keep an eye out for a job opportunity will almost guarantee you won't get a response. Unless the message is specifically worded for the intended individual it is bound to get overlooked. The recipient may think someone else can help you better than he or she can or that you don't really need his or her help. Send your next message to an individual and then follow up. Personalize every bit of correspondence you send out.
Taking the easy way out. Job searching is tougher than you imagine. Just submitting an application online and waiting for a response is easy. Taking the time, energy and risk to speak with someone inside the company is hard. This could also mean you need to take the time and energy to personalize every cover letter, résumé and thank you letter. To personalize each document, you need to research the company and individual and ensure your documents speak to the specific needs and wants of those receiving them. Always take the harder route.
Riding out unemployment. Finding a job is going to take longer than you want, so it pays to start the search immediately upon your job ending. Approach each week with a sense of urgency and use the same discipline you used on the job to manage your time. The smartest time to consider relocation, a "Plan B" job or other options is on day one. Put them into play immediately by exploring and pursing opportunities that are a match for your plans.
"It's not my fault." It isn't anybody's fault that the economy is different today. Blaming others isn't going to fix the problem. The only one who can get you a job is you. So if you aren't employed, it is your fault. For example, you should ask for an outside, objective review of your job search history, or have someone review your résumé and application against the job posting. You could also ask for help practicing common interview questions, or ask a third-party recruiter for feedback on your qualifications. There are a myriad of ways in which you can present your qualifications, millions of jobs to pursue and let's not forget, there's also the solopreneur option. Have you asked yourself what product or service you could sell easily and immediately? Amazing opportunities rise out of necessity. Decide today that you have the power and control to get a job and see what happens.
Hannah Morgan is a speaker and author providing no-nonsense career advice; she guides job seekers and helps them navigate today's treacherous job search terrain. Hannah shares information about the latest trends, such as reputation management, social networking strategies, and other effective search techniques on her blog, Career Sherpa.
- Employment & Career