10 mistakes to avoid when job hunting
Don’t take your eyes off the competition, but do take a break. Here’s advice on mistakes to avoid when looking for work
the guardian.com, May 28 January 2013
Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet Photograph: Terry Cryer/ Terry Cryer/CORBIS
Applying for jobs is often a difficult and demoralizing process, but it’s important to stay positive and learn from your mistakes. Here are ten common mistakes you should try to avoid:
1. Passing On Responsibility For Your Job Hunt
It’s important that you don’t try and blame others for your job hunting difficulties. Focus on positive action rather than negative thoughts. Brush pessimism to one side and look to the future. What’s happened has happened, but by taking control of the current situation and letting your personality shine through, you will overcome this.
2. Make Your Job Search Your Sole Focus in Life
Enjoy family time, eat well and exercise. Leave the house each day, volunteer, learn new skills, meet people and maintain a balance in your life. We all need interaction and variety: often the harder you chase something, the more it eludes you.
3. Take Rejection Personally
Unfortunately it’s rare to be offered the first job you apply for — it’s just not that easy. So, accept rejection as part of the process and always ask for, and even more importantly learn from, feedback. The job you don’t get helps you next time so always push for feedback and act on it.
4. Search in the Same Place As Others
Surfing the online job boards is an important first port of call in finding a job, but there are also lots of other places you can explore. For example, you could look at recommendations, referrals and professional networks as this market can be less competitive.
5. Fail To Deliver A Clear Message
Employers are interested in where you have added value, not everything you’ve ever done. Make sure they can see the wood from the trees. Think of yourself as a movie trailer and not the whole film – what is it about you that generates enough excitement and interest for an employer to buy a ticket to the main feature?
6. Hide It From the People in Your Life
Although searching for your next job is a personal experience, don’t try and do it all alone. Share the experience with your loved ones and you’ll be far stronger and more effective in your quest.
7. Apply For Every Job You Come Across
This makes you look desperate and you’ll lose focus. Try to take more time on fewer applications and don’t adopt the scatter gun approach. Throwing more mud at the wall won’t lead to more success, just more mess. Nothing puts an employer off more than you not knowing anything about their business or what the role entails and, if you have multiple applications out in the field, keeping track of them all becomes an impossible task.
8. Be Afraid To Push Yourself Forward
This is no time to lurk in the shadows. Don’t be afraid to shine, blow your own trumpet and tell people how good you are and what value you can bring to their business. Confidence, not arrogance, is the key here – don’t let your skills and experience be the best kept secret.
9. Forget That Times Change
If you’ve not been in the job market for a few years, you might have expectations that are unrealistic. It’s easy to think that it’s exactly the same as when you last looked for a position, but times have changed. Take a more enlightened approach and try to gain more understanding of the modern job market and how best to place yourself in it.
10. Take Your Eye Off the Competition
Make sure you differentiate yourself from other jobseekers. Instantly falling in line with what the competition is doing will put you at a distinct disadvantage.
Think not only about your skills and experience but also your key achievements. These should be things where you have made a difference and done something out of the ordinary. Your competition is likely to have similar responsibilities but achievements are unique to you. Think about a particular situation, what you did and quantify the outcome or result where possible. This way of thinking and presentation on your CV falls in line with the competency-based interview style of questioning and will help you make an even better impression once you get to interview. Knowledge is power and the more you know about yourself and what makes you different, the better placed you are to attack the job market and find your next position. △
Simon Gray is the director of Cherry Professional