You may think you're doing everything right in your job search. You have multiple versions of your resume, and you're actively networking. But sometimes, even the most qualified candidates are employing job search techniques that are actually hurting their chances at getting them their dream job.
To make sure you're putting your best foot forward, here are four common job search techniques to avoid in your job search - and what to do instead.
Job Search Technique #1: Applying to as Many Jobs as Possible
JobsInNH.com sees this technique employed far too often by candidates. People often approach a job search as a numbers game. The more jobs applied for, the more likely you'll get a job, right?
While the strategy sounds good on paper, the reality is a bit different. If you're applying to hundreds of jobs, you're probably not taking the necessary amount of time to research, customize your resume and application, or reach out to people in your network who may have a connection at the company.
The Solution: Think quality, not quantity. Compile a list of companies you would want to work for. Research each company and make your list even shorter by learning everything you can about them. When you have your short list, look at their job openings to see if any of them match your skill set. Carefully craft your job application and customize your resume to show how your skills, experience and values align with the organization and position. Write a custom cover letter and see if there are any connections within your network who can make a personalized introduction for you.
Avoid the temptation to apply for multiple positions at the same company on your short list. When you do apply for multiple jobs at the same company, chances are there's a hiring manager who will receive all applications. The message you're really sending to this hiring manager is that you'll take any job; you're not sure what each job entails, or you don't know what you want.
In any case, stick to a quality over quantity approach. It'll take more time and energy, but your chances of scoring a relevant interview will increase.
Job Search Technique #2: Being the First in the Door
The core mistake of this job search technique is related to "rushing it." Applying to too many jobs is a quantity over quality mistake, and this job search technique is an extension of that mistake.
Being the first person to apply for a job rarely does you any favors. Unless you're very attentive to every detail, most applications received within the first hour of the first day of being posted contain mistakes. Either they're incomplete, contain the wrong information, or contain grammatical errors.
Rushing it rarely pays off.
The Solution: It's better to give yourself the time you need to properly complete your application and come up with an application strategy. If you take the time you need to apply, you can pay attention to every detail, research the company, mention your research in a cover letter, and see if anyone in your personal network is connected to the company.
Once you press "send" you can't take your application back. If the job has recently been posted, it's not going away. First impressions make or break your job search, and being first in the door isn't always as beneficial as you might think.
Job Search Technique #3: Spray and Pray Your Resume
Sending your resume unsolicited via email is a surefire way to annoy your contact.
A typical email may say something like, "Attached is my resume - let me know if there's anything I'd be a fit for!"
What this does is puts more work on your contact's plate. Your email really asks them to review your resume, look at their company's open positions, and try to make a match on your behalf when they don't necessarily know how your skills fit.
The Solution: Apply For the Job, Then Give Your Contact a Heads Up
There's a right and wrong way to put your contact on the inside to work for you. The wrong way is asking them to do the work for you. The right way is to do the work (applying for the right job, following application instructions) and then giving your contact the heads up that you've applied. That way, they can casually follow up with the hiring manager at the water cooler or via email so you have a leg up in the hiring process.
Job Search Technique #4: Applying for Jobs for Which You're Not Qualified
You should always stretch professionally during a job search. Applying for jobs just outside of your comfort level is a good thing. It shows that you want to progress, and that you're going after roles that will be a challenge.
There are roles out there that you will not be qualified for. These are the jobs you'll want to avoid applying for to save your time (and the time of the hiring manager).
- Applying for an executive-level job when you only have a few years experience
- Applying for a job that requires a certification that you do not have, and are not pursuing
- Applying for a managerial job when you've never managed anyone in a professional setting
The Solution: Focus On the Right Roles
The commonality of all these job search techniques is to focus. Focus on quality. Focus on the details. Focus on making things as easy as possible for people on "the inside" to say "yes" when considering you as a candidate. The solution for applying for jobs you're unqualified for is to just focus on the right roles.
Spend your time and efforts going after the positions that are just out of reach. Rome wasn't built in a day. You have to crawl before you walk. One step at a time. The metaphors are true - you have to work your way up before applying for the jobs that are really out of reach.
Job search techniques are done with the best intentions. Try out these solutions to see if your results improve, and if you get closer to landing that next great role.