Job hunting can be a daunting process filled with overwhelming challenges, both emotional and professional. Don’t make things worse and avoid these common mistakes that will surely ruin your chances of getting a job.
It’s a stressful thing, looking for a job. That gut-wrenching period of uncertainty and insecurity as you scour through countless job postings is certainly overwhelming. It’s not just another activity among many: it’s the future of your career, your income, your professional development, and a source of confidence. Sure, it’s just a job, and your whole life shouldn’t revolve around it (you shouldn’t derive your self-esteem from this alone), but that’s easier said than done.
Regardless of what finding a job means to you on a personal level, it’s always nice to have options. And to have options, you must cultivate them. To successfully do so, the first thing you need to do is get out of your own way by being aware of the most common mistakes we can all make when it comes to job hunting.
1) Sending rushed CVs
Nothing looks less professional than a bland CV full of typos and grammar mistakes. If you want companies to think you’re serious about getting a job, the first thing to do is show them you’re serious about your own CV. A lazy CV signals a lazy employee. Proofread, make it clear and easy to read, and get creative with the layout. You’re probably competing against many people for that one position, so make sure you don’t lose points at the outset by having a worse-looking CV than the rest.
2) Choosing quantity over quality
So, you have a nice-looking CV. That’s surely enough, right? Wrong. Presentation greatly helps with a first impression, but once a recruiter starts reading, content is what matters. Sending a single tailored-made CV for one company is better than sending a million unfocused ones. Any given company can receive up to thousands of CVs when it posts an opening. If only a few are customized to fit a position, who do you think will have the better chance?
3) Being careless about what you say (or don’t say)
Once you have a customized and clear CV, be open about your goals, motivations, and shortcomings. Don’t give your potential employers reasons to suspect you’re not a good candidate. Do you have big time gaps between jobs? Say why. If it’s for a bad reason, then find a way to turn it around. For instance, if you stopped working for six months so you could travel, then talk about your experiences and how they add value to the company. Perhaps you became more empathetic, experienced, social, or open-minded. If you feel you have weaknesses in your CV, turn them into strengths. It looks very bad to have an unexplained shortcoming on your application.
4) Neglecting your online persona
It might sound creepy, but companies want to know who they are hiring. They will look through your social media, and your public photos and profiles on different online platforms. If you are applying for a serious job and your Facebook page is filled with drunken pictures of you in your underwear, well… let’s just say it won’t look good. So, it’s probably best if you take those pictures down. But, whatever you do, you must have an online presence in some shape or form. In today’s world, it’s simply suspicious for someone to have no internet presence whatsoever. Do keep at least your LinkedIn profile updated and with as many connections as you can.
5) Lack of networking
Contacts, contacts, contacts. It’s all about knowing people in the right places. Never pass up a chance to get the number or email of people who work in the areas you’re interested in. You never know when an opportunity will present itself through acquaintances or friends. Get in contact with people without being too pushy, and keep a list of everyone who might be even remotely related to the job you want. It’s much easier to get that job if you actually know people inside the company who can put in a good word for you.
6) Not being proactive
Once you apply for a job, don’t just wait around with your arms crossed to hear back from them. You should stay in contact and follow up every once in a while. If you get an interview, write an email one or two days later to thank them for the opportunity and to reaffirm your interest. This way, they’ll keep you in mind. Don’t push it too far, though: avoid pestering them with an annoying series of emails asking about your chances. You don’t want to come across as too desperate or needy.
There are many things that are beyond your control. Do your best whenever it’s up to you, but learn to recognize when it’s not. Don’t beat yourself up, if you don’t hear back —most of the time it’s not personal and you probably did nothing wrong. Don’t be too harsh on yourself and just keep going. It may take a while sometimes, but persistence is rewarded. Have the wisdom to distinguish what’s in your hands and what is not, the courage to work on what you can, and the strength to let go. Getting too frustrated will only discourage you and impair your judgment.
It’s hard enough to get a job in a world where you have to compete against millions of other qualified people. Don’t lower your chances by making any of the previous mistakes. It may sound like common sense, but job hunting is a stressful activity that makes it easy to forget even the most basic rules. So, keep this list in mind, and keep hunting!
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