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15 job searching habits you need to quit if you want success

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 15 Aug 2022

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We all have our own methods and practices that work for us. However, if you find that you have been having no or little luck in your current job search, there may be a few things you want to consider. Job searching takes time, more than you may initially realise and we may find it easier to cut corners at times to save some of that precious time. It can be easy to fall into a job search ‘trap’. The causes of falling into these traps can be due to bad job searching habits and getting caught in a never-ending cycle. If you’re finding that your job search is getting you nowhere, chances are you need to change your strategy. Here are a few habits you need to quit if you want to find more success with your job search:

1. Using the scatter gun approach

When you are desperately looking for a job, for whatever reason, it can be easy to apply for every job that you find. It’s a bad habit you may gain if you are in a rush or begin feeling pressure to find a new role as fast as possible. We all have our own reasons for this. However, the problem in half-heartedly applying for roles, increases the chances that you will be turned down from these opportunities. There are many things you can be doing to tailor your application, and this can make or break your success. Also, if you apply for all the roles quickly, without hesitation, you may run out of eligible roles to apply for. Don’t over do it, limit yourself to a certain number of applications per day / week and take your time. Taking more time, in the long run, will hopefully shorten your job search.

2. Not tailoring your application appropriately to the role

I mentioned the importance of tailoring your applications in the point above, but it really is an important one. Unless you have the patience to take some time with your application (looking at the job description and matching your CV and cover letter to the skills etc. required) you’re more likely to be rejected for a role that you could have been great in. The likelihood is, you are a talented, competent candidate, but employers want to see that you have made an effort. They need to see why you are right for this job in particular. You can find more information about tailoring your applications here.

3. Not chasing up the progress of your application with your employer

It can be really disheartening when you apply for a job and don’t hear anything back. When this happens a number of times, it can really have a knock-on effect for our confidence. Especially when you have had interactions or even interviews with said employer. Radio silence reflects them more than it does you, so keep this in mind. Try and keep a track of your applications, each job you apply for and send a follow-up email to ensure you are showing your continued interest.

Simply applying for a job and not following up after the closing date with the employer may give you a disadvantage. A polite email can sometimes be all it takes that puts you aside from the competition.

4. Assuming you’ve got the job before applying

Perhaps a friend told you about a position that they assured you you’ll get when you apply for it or maybe a connection of yours also works for the employer. Whatever the reason, this state of mind can easily be your downfall when job hunting. It’s one thing to have found the perfect job, but it’s another thing to have the perfect application. Always remember that you are competing against other candidates. You may feel like you are the perfect match for the job, but don’t let your guard down. There are candidates out there just as good as you, if not more experienced. Treat these applications like you would any other and give it everything you’ve got.

5. Trying to predict interview questions

We all know the cliché interview questions that you’re most likely to be asked but thinking that these are the only questions they’ll ask is a big mistake. They will probably ask questions like ‘Tell us about yourself’ and ‘what do you think you can bring to the role that others may not?’ but they may also throw in some technical questions, competency questions and others that you may want to consider or plan for. Try to also think of questions you don’t want to be asked, preparation is the key to success.

6. Using boring language in your cover letter to the employer

Cliché phrases in cover letters almost make the letter itself useless. It’s always better to analyse the job spec and see what language and skills you can add into your cover letter to make it more relevant. Also talk about your successes in your current role, as well as your responsibilities. By all means say you’re multi-skilled, but back it up with some facts. Use the STAR method, just like you would do when answering interview questions.

7. Being too safe with your references

If you know somebody who gave you a glowing reference for your current job, you’ll be tempted to use that person for most future jobs. Alternatively, you’ll use someone who won’t mind being contacted (you may not want to use your current employer) however they may not have the best job to provide the reference. There are ways around using your current employer as a reference. Most applications now give you the opportunity to state you don’t want them to be contacted until after you have accepted an offer. Use references that are going to aid your application, even if you might feel awkward asking.

8. Not being yourself in an interview

Job interviews are artificially created environments where it can be difficult to ‘act naturally’. Falling into the trap of being who the interviewer wants you to be rather than being yourself isn’t a good idea – as tempting as it may be to try and win points that way. You need to be the person you would bring to work every day. Going into a new environment can be nerve wracking, so why not ask to have the initial interview virtually? Sometimes being in your own home or an environment you feel comfortable in, is all you need to feel better about an interview.

9. Being too afraid to network

Networking is essential to job hunting, no matter what industry, sector, or stage of career you’re in. Even if you do something as simple as getting in touch with some old friends, colleagues or doing something online networking as a minimum. If you don’t, you can miss out on some great opportunities. Sometimes it’s all about who you know. So put yourself out there and start networking online or attending some events. What’s the worst that could happen?

10. Being a Jack of all trades when applying for a niche or specialised job

Being able to do a bit of everything is usually a good thing when job seeking, especially when it comes to tailoring your applications. It all becomes a little bit easier when you have a good range of skills. However, if you’re applying for a job that needs specialist skills then it’s a good idea to apply, only if you have that skill. Usually, there are things you can learn on the job, learn through courses and the employers. But, if they are looking for a candidate with that one skill, don’t apply. Unless you have it, in that case, do all you can to sell exactly what they’re looking for.

11. Not researching the competition of the company you’re applying to

Every company has a competitor, there are plenty of opportunities for you to research this before attending an interview. It’s a good idea to enter an interview having a good knowledge on the company, their competition, what they do and what they are currently working on (If this information is available). If you can display your knowledge of the company’s competition in your cover letter or interview, you’re showing that you’re really done your homework and you’re aware of the company’s position in the industry. Doing this little bit of extra research can really help you stand out from the competition.

12. Keeping in your comfort zone

Looking for a new job is a great opportunity for a fresh start and try to find new challenges. Unless you would like a job that is very similar to the one you currently hold, looking for similar jobs won’t expand your skillset in the longer term. They may increase your chances of progressing through a company, but if you want something different and new to learn, use the skills you have learnt to express your desire to improve and grow as a professional. Push yourself and you don’t know where you may find the right role for you.

You should also think about your geographical locations of potential jobs. Are you looking at the same old places over and over again? A few extra miles could make a lot of difference in your job search.

13. Not attempting to negotiate

If you’re lucky enough to get a job offer, it sometimes pays off to negotiate with the employer about what they’re offering. Some carefully thought-out job negotiations can get you some great benefits. Don’t just think about negotiating salary; think about flexible working opportunities or job description changes – or even job title changes. It’s a good time to try and get what you want and to see just how much the potential employer is actually willing to offer to gain the right candidate. 

14. Being negative about your job search situation

Job hunting can be extremely frustrating, but constantly being negative about your job situation will ultimately have an effect on your success rate. If you view your job hunt in a negative light this feeling can leak into your CV, cover letter or even your interview. Keep your chin up! If you find things are going wrong, then you probably need to change tactic or take a break. We all need some time to relax, and this can really make the difference.

15. Not asking for interview feedback

Regardless of whether you went through an agency or directly to the employer, it’s important to ask for feedback following your interview. Obviously if you get the job, you don’t need feedback – but if you don’t then feedback is priceless and may be your key to securing the job at your next interview.

All in all, a good job hunt can be hindered by lots of little things. If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it can be useful to re-evaluate your methods to see what’s perhaps not working as well as it should. Good luck!