With all the competition for jobs in today’s market, job seekers have a common problem: finding (and getting) a job is hard! It’s never been more important to make sure you stand out from the crowd by not only working hard to get the job you want, but also avoiding the pitfalls that often come with looking for work. From your CV to your contact details, attention to detail is key - we have some of the most common mistakes job hunters make when trying to land the perfect position.
Standing Out for All the Wrong Reasons
You’ve finally mustered up the courage to apply for your dream job. But there’s one little problem: the stiff competition. You know you need to stand out to get the gig, but you’re not quite sure how.
Are you thinking of sending a hiring manager an unsolicited resume with flowers, cookies or a headshot? If so, you’re not alone. Nowadays, it’s so hard for job seekers to stand out that many believe they have to resort to “creative” gimmicks to garner attention. Some job seekers think sending a hiring manager flowers or cookies is a thoughtful gesture. But what they don’t realize is how such a gesture may be perceived in the hiring process.
When a hiring manager is trying to make an unbiased decision about who to hire, a gift from an applicant may be viewed as inappropriate, aggressive and/or desperate. Is that really how you want to come across? Probably not.
So instead of creating a billboard, baking cookies or sending roses, work on standing out on merit alone. After all, a gimmick can only get you so far. Start standing out by crafting a stellar resume that highlights your impressive accomplishments and skills, such as listing industry-specific awards, certifications and advanced degrees that differentiate you from other applicants. You should also create a highly customized cover letter that sells how perfect you are for the job.
In other words, don’t simply repeat what’s on your resume. Instead, take it several steps further and explicitly tell your dream employer what inspires you about their mission and why your unique background, skill set and personality make you the perfect candidate for their position.
Watch That Sloppy Grammar
We all know that typos ensure your resume and cover letter will find their way to the trash, but it's not just about running spell check. For example, headhunter Rikka Brandon says her number-one pet peeve is seeing "manager" spelled as "manger." (And please don't ever confuse "your" and "you're" if you know what's good for you.)
Another error that Word won't catch is a tense change. "Don't put a few bullets in past tense and others in present for the same job title," says Tracy Vistine, lead recruiter with Messina Group, a national staffing firm. Have a trusted friend (or, hey, your mom) read over your CV to make sure you catch every last mistake.
Ignoring Their Networks
The admirable qualities of conscientiousness, skill, and persistence will only get you so far in the job hunt. Research suggests that between 25 and 50 percent of all jobs are landed via word-of-mouth referrals. Often, these openings are referred to as the “secret job market”: a market full of unadvertised positions that companies fill through referral only.
Many job seekers make the mistake of ignoring the secret job market, choosing instead to apply only for advertised jobs. Of course, this means that the average job seeker may be missing as many as 50 percent of the opportunities on the market. To double their chances of finding a job, job seekers should spend a significant amount of time mining their networks of friends, family, and associates for new job opportunities.
Assuming That Not Hearing Back Means “No”
It can mean “no,” but it can also mean that the person you contacted is busy, or behind on email, or read your email and made a mental note to get back to you and then forgot and needs a reminder, and oh, thank god you emailed me again!
Whenever we hear, “Well, they didn’t get back to me…” we follow up with, “Well, how many emails did you send?” Usually, the answer is one. If you don’t hear back, follow up again. Be more specific in your ask. Follow up twice or even three times before you throw in the towel. If you’re tenacious, people will notice.