October 25, 2012

The 7 Biggest Job Seeking Mistakes

1. Hanging Around Other Unemployed People

The best way to find work is through people who are working. 80% of available jobs are never posted anywhere. That means that your full time job is to find your way to companies that interest you and contact them directly. Employees are most likely to know when their company is hiring. Sometimes a company manager hires because they notice a talented individual with incredible potential and they anticipate upcoming projects that need staffing.

Managers don’t want to be short staffed when the economy is improving. They know they will need to deliver products or services soon and they cannot deliver if they do not have talented people working for them.

So what is the best way to get noticed? Network, Network, Network! Define the industry you want to work in and then network in that industry. Get out there! Take advantage of every opportunity to meet people: job fairs, professional meetings, student night with industry, pizza and job events, company information sessions, everything.

2. Keeping it a Secret

Start by telling everyone you come in contact with that you are looking for work. Be positive. Tell them that this is your opportunity to explore the possibilities and redefine yourself… Give them a job title and a list of companies you are interested in. Give them a copy of your resume and a copy of your business card… Yes job seekers need business cards.

People who are looking for work are frequently embarrassed that they do not have a job. They don’t want to tell anyone they are unemployed for fear that it reflects badly on them. When you are a student you have an identity. When you finish school you lose that identity. In this culture your job is your identity. It is what gives you purpose and meaning in life. Losing your job can be devastating. You are not alone. 8 million people lost their jobs in the great recession.

It is not your fault and you will get a job.

3. Conveying A Lack of Focus

Define yourself! Do what you like! Enthusiasm goes a long way to making you attractive for jobs. Take a career planning class and figure out what knowledge, interests, goals, and values are important to you and what work environment you would thrive in. You will not find a career if you don’t know what you are looking for. Employers don’t want to spend time and money training you only to see you quit.
If you can’t take a class, read a career-planning book. My book, The Serious Job Seeker is free and online.

4. Thinking Negative

If you think looking for work is the worst experience you will ever have, I promise it will be. If you think there are no jobs, you will not find a job because you are less likely to put in the effort required to finding a job.

Looking for work is an extreme sport. It takes a plan, a ton of work, and nerves of steel. You will face rejection and disappointment but you will eventually get a job if you put in the work.

Getting a job will take you approximately three to six months of hard work. Think of it as an adventure - your opportunity to research companies, and get a bird’s eye view into lots of cool companies. That will give you the positive attitude you will need to see you through this challenge. You will make a much better impression if you look happy, so go positive and remember you really don’t qualify to be permanently unemployed.

5. Projecting An Unprofessional Image

Looking the part before you get the part is part of the game of getting a job. You need a professional image before anyone will take you seriously. If you look like a student you are not going to impress. Sketchers, jeans and a t-shirt are not professional or even casual business attire. And yet I see students showing up similarly attired at job fairs, in company information sessions or for interviews with companies hoping to hire interns or career professionals.

Look like you are going somewhere and people think you have potential. Look like a student and you get to take classes for the rest of your life…

6. Showing Up Late and Unprepared

Showing up late for an interview is a deal breaker. Interviewers consider it a sign of failure to plan or manage your time. It also shows a distinct lack a respect for the interviewer. You loose points and you lose the opportunity to be seriously considered for the job.

Show up on time and prepared for interviews, classes, project team meetings; do your best work every time; and have a good attitude and people think you are hardworking, dependable, and reliable. People will think of you when asked, “do you know any one who might be good for this position.”

If you are looking for work you are always interviewing. Everyone you encounter is a potential employer, a potential lead to an employer, or a potential reference you will need to obtain a job. Your fellow classmates who are employed, your professors, and your career counselor all observe you as you go through the day. Make sure that you make a good impression if you want leads, references and ultimately a job!

7. Mistakes on Your Resume, or in Letters, and Email

There are no excuses for errors on your resume or in your correspondence. Mistakes on any of your job seeking documents will immediately get you eliminated from the competition. Employers have zero tolerance for writing errors or weak resumes. While a great resume can define you and get you noticed, a bad resume says you are just not qualified. If you cannot write well - find someone who can to help you.