When it comes to job seeking, many of us soon get to know what methods work and what don’t. However, sometimes it can be easy to inadvertently fall into a job search ‘trap’. The causes of falling into these traps can be due to bad job searching habits. 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 success with your job search:
1. Using the scatter gun approach
This is a classic bad job seeking habit and an easy trap to fall into when you’re looking for jobs desperately. The problem with half-heartedly applying for everything at once means you’re more likely to get turned down from these opportunities and you’ve not got many jobs left to apply for, which means you have to wait for more to come up. Job seeking can be all about patience – so try to apply for a set amount of jobs per day, but don’t overdo it.
2. Not tailoring your application appropriately to the role
This is somewhat similar to my first point. 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’ll end up getting turned down for jobs that you’d possibly get offered if you just took some extra time to work on the application.
3. Not chasing up the progress of your application with your employer
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. 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. By thinking that you’re the only applicant for the role could mean you end up taking shortcuts throughout your application.
5. Trying to predict interview questions
We all know the cliché interview questions that you’re most likely to get asked, but thinking that these are the only questions they’ll think up is a mistake. ‘Tell us about yourself’ and ‘what do you think you can bring to the role that others may not?’ are both examples of typical questions; but make sure you have some technical know-how when you’re going into that interview. Try to prepare yourself for the most unusual of questions. Try to think of questions you don’t want to be asked, because you probably will get asked these questions.
6. Using boring language in your cover letter to the employer
Cliché phrases in cover letters almost make the letter itself useless. You may as well have not written it at all if all you can come up with is uninformed ‘usual’ phrases. By all means say you’re multi-skilled, but back it up with some facts. If you want some cover letter tips, see my article here.
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.
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.
9. Being too afraid and/or lazy to network
Networking is essential to job hunting, no matter what industry, sector or stage of career you’re in. Even if you get in touch with old friends or do some online networking as an absolute minimum, you’ll miss out on some great potential opportunities if you don’t network.
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 you’re job seeking because you can tailor your application a lot easier to the job itself. However if you’re applying for a job that needs specialist skills then it’s not a good idea to try and have an application that’s more diluted. If you have a specialist skill and find the job looking for that skill, sell it!
11. Not researching the competition of the company you’re applying to
Every company has a competitor, direct or otherwise. 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. This simple trick can really put you aside from the competition.
12. Keeping in your comfort zone
Looking for a new job is a great opportunity for a fresh start with new challenges. Simply looking for similar jobs to what you do now won’t expand your skillset in the longer term. 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 negotiation 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 wants you.
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.
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!