I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to meet with some very brilliant people in my Career Coaching practice. I’m amazed by their knowledge, their accomplishments, and the truly incredible persons that they are.
Many of these brilliant people are experts in their field, yet for one reason or another, never really had the opportunity to develop expertise in the area of conducting an effective job search. And that’s OK – we don’t all have time to be experts at everything. But without this expertise, many people will spin their wheels, repeatedly banging their heads against the wall in trying to land a job but not being successful.
Here are some common pitfalls I’ve seen people make in launching ineffective job search campaigns.
- They don’t have a good handle on their strengths.
Sometimes it amazes me that brilliant people are not aware of and cannot articulate their strengths. I take my clients through some personal branding exercises that get to the heart of identifying strengths, what makes them unique, and why a prospective employer should hire them. This information should be woven through the resume, LinkedIn profile and shared during interviews. At times we all might have been trained not to “toot our own horn” but it’s time to get comfortable doing so in a confident (yet not arrogant) way.
- They are not fully aware of their weaknesses.
We all have weaknesses. Some we are aware of – and these we either accept or possibly try to work on. A person who has a weakness for being on time might choose to set goals to work on this area. Whereas, a person who is not good at computer programming might choose not to become better at that. You do have a choice. It’s ultimately best to focus your efforts on developing your strengths, but there are some weaknesses it might make sense to work on.
And, there are some weaknesses we are not aware of. It might be a good habit to routinely ask close friends and business colleagues if we have things we are unaware of that we need to work on – some call these blind spots. A good potential blind spot for a job seeker to become more aware of is the following statement – why am I currently seeking a job; and if I consistently seem to be the person “laid off” at a company, or have a track record of not keeping jobs for more than a year or so, why is that?
To obtain the answer to those questions, talk to close friends as well as former supervisors and co-workers. Tell them you want to grow in this area and you want constructive feedback; ask them to be brutally honest. Take this knowledge and use it as constructive criticism. Seek to grow from it and become a better person. The honest soul who seeks this type of information and seeks to grow from his blind spots will normally reap huge rewards.
- They are not clear on the job role they are seeking.
A job seeker will find that his search is greatly accelerated by having a clear career focus. It may seem counterintuitive that the more you focus, the faster you land a job, but it’s true. By having a clear focus, you will pinpoint your efforts on the right companies and the right hiring managers, and none of your efforts will be wasted. When you share with others exactly what you’re looking for, they clearly know who they should refer you to.
- They don’t know how to tap the hidden job market.
The job search process has changed quite a bit over the last 5, 10 and 20 years. It continues to evolve on a continual basis. If you are not aware of the latest and greatest methods to use in your job search, you may find that what you are doing does not work.
Tapping the hidden job market is still one of the best ways to find a job. Roughly 80% of jobs are not advertised. You’re not likely to face much competition for these jobs, either. My company, the Dream Life Team, has a Job Search Boot Camp to teach people how to tap the hidden job market.
- They don’t know how to use their job search time effectively.
Job seekers should spend 80% of their time tapping the hidden job market. Perhaps 10% of their time applying to job openings online. And another 8% with recruiters and 2% at job fairs. This is how people report they find jobs so it would make sense to spend the most of your time on the most effective methods.
- They don’t know how to write a resume that is effective.
Most people mistakenly assume they can do a good job on their resume themselves. However, all they are doing is sharing what they’ve done in the past – it’s a historical document that doesn’t showcase their strengths and it certainly doesn’t convey why anyone should hire them.
Homegrown resumes often don’t communicate value, they may have typos, and often do not showcase the individual. A professional resume writer knows that the resume must appeal to three audiences – it must be keyword rich for the computer that scans it (the applicant tracking system); it must be easy to skim in 6 seconds by HR professionals who weed out the good from the bad; and it must convey deep value for the hiring manager who may end up actually reading it.
Beyond that, it needs to be SO GOOD that it is one of the best out of a stack of a thousand or more resumes to land you an interview. A professionally written resume is well worth the investment, hands down.
- They don’t know how to set themselves apart in the interview process.
The interview process is the “promised land” offered to the few individuals who had the most outstanding resume in the pile. If you make it to the interview stage, that is a great accomplishment but you still are competing against maybe a dozen others and you don’t yet have the job.
Just as you had to have an outstanding resume to reach the interview stage, you now are competing against the others at this stage for one, possibly two job openings. There is an art to winning this round – partly through answering questions well, and partly through offering the right follow-up after the interview. A career coach can help you prepare to excel in the interview process, as well as arm you with valuable tactics such as the 90 day action plan.
- They don’t track down and communicate with the hiring manager when applying for jobs online.
Although we said that a job seeker should only spend 10% of his time applying to online jobs, when he or she does apply to them, there is more to success than sending your resume into the black hole that is the online application process. In addition, he or she should track down the hiring manager and directly send that person a resume, cover letter and T letter. Without this step, it is very unlikely he or she will ever see your resume that was sent in online. If the hiring manager sees what you sent and likes you, he will instruct the HR team to advance you to the list of people that will be interviewed.
- They have not really stopped to consider if they are going in the right direction.
I’ve met many people who just accepted the first job they got out of college and kept walking through open doors and accepting promotions. Then, one day perhaps 10 or 20 years down the road, they wonder – how in the world did I end up here? And, they are totally out of touch with what a “dream life” or ideal life or career would look like.
Often when directionless people end up needing a job search, they randomly look for things similar to what they’ve always done without even assessing if they are on the right path or if they are climbing the wrong ladder. Their goal is just to get another paycheck. The idea of identifying what career would make them jump out of bed with excitement each day is a foreign concept. They become 9-5, Monday through Friday robots that live for weekends and the next vacation.
Job seekers, take a look at your job search methods. Most of those seeking jobs who are reading this article are brilliant and have much to offer an employer. Your challenge is to package your strengths attractively for the employer and use effective methods to reach as many as you can in a short amount of time.