Our goal this year is to help you get the right job, not just any job. The first step is to share a series of three posts with you—maybe more—on the mistakes to avoid as you seek a job in 2022. Our first list of eight mistakes includes:
- Looking for a job instead of a career,
- Not targeting your job search,
- Not making it easy for an employer to see how you’d fit in,
- Quitting your job instead of keeping it while you find a better one,
- Confusing activity with action,
- Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results,
- Not paying attention to what worked for you before in your job search, and
- Applying through traditional means.
Are you looking for a job or a career?
Wait, I shouldn’t look for a job? Don’t just look for a job — look for a career. Look for a calling. What are you meant to do? How can you use your skills, education, and experience for maximum benefit? You may not see that position advertised in a job posting. That does not mean it doesn’t exist.
What kinds of problems could you solve for a company? What kind of company needs those problems solved? Investigate how you could solve that problem for that kind of company.
We realize, of course, that you have to earn a living right now. It’s okay to find a “day job” while you seek your dream job. Just try selecting an opportunity that matches your knowledge, skills, and abilities so you do not make yourself miserable, or make your co-workers miserable.
Not targeting your job search will lead to disappointment.
What kinds of jobs are you interested in? What kind of company do you want to work for? If your answer is, “I don’t care, I just need a job,” your job search is less likely to be successful than if you spend some time thinking about where you want to work, and what you want to do (and how to get there!).
You have not made it easy for an employer to see how you’d fit in.
Generic resumes don’t attract employer attention. Instead, you need to show an employer how you can add value to their company.
Customize your tool for the job. For example, you wouldn’t use a hammer to tighten a screw, would you? Similarly, you should not use the same resume to apply for vastly different jobs — for example, an elementary teaching position and a job as a sales assistant. Figure out what the key components of the job are, and then showcase how you can do those things in your resume.
Quitting your job instead of keeping it while you find a better one can be a costly error.
Maybe your Mom gave you this advice: “Don’t quit your job until you have a new one.” Mom was onto something. It’s controversial, but hiring managers and recruiters confirm that it’s easier to find a job if you’re currently employed. Jobseekers who have a job are more attractive candidates. Maybe it’s because unemployment can make you (seem) desperate. But study after study shows that currently employed candidates are hired more frequently than unemployed jobseekers. It is especially tough if you have been out of work for six months or more.
The “great resignation” makes it even more tempting to quit a job. Do not assume that a new job will materialize right away. That may happen in today’s job market, especially if you are widely recognized as a healthcare or cyber-security expert, but most of us should not count on landing a job instantly.
Even worse, you usually will not collect unemployment compensation benefits when you quit a job. You may not be offered severance pay either. As a result, your financial loss will be substantial if you do not get another job right away.
Do not confuse activity with action.
Are you confusing “busywork” with progress? Are you spending a lot of time researching jobs online and applying for lots of positions? While it’s recommended that you spend at least an hour a day on your job search if you are currently employed (and perhaps full-time if you are currently unemployed), make sure you are tracking how much time you are spending, and what you are spending it on. Spend your time on high value tasks — like identifying and researching companies you’d like to work for, trying to connect directly with hiring managers and recruiters, and having coffee (pandemic conditions permitting) with someone who works for the company you’re applying at. Make certain you are not simply spending time in front of your computer.
Avoid doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.
“I applied for dozens of jobs and haven’t heard anything back.” Well, then something’s not working. Either stop applying for advertised positions, start following up on the applications you’ve already put in, or figure out a different way to connect with your dream job. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something different!
You are not paying attention to what worked for you in previous job searches.
This is the opposite of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This time, we want you to achieve the same result as before — a great job. So look at what worked for you the last time you landed the job you wanted. Were you networking at a professional association meeting? At your child’s basketball game, did you struck up a conversation with the person next to you? Or did you apply on a company’s website? Consider doing more of what worked for you last time and see if it works for you again.
For example, I landed my first career advising job by volunteering for several months at the organization that hired me, so I tried the volunteer strategy again when I relocated to another city where I had fewer contacts. This time, I landed a job offer after doing just one volunteer presentation at a job club.
Applying through traditional means can be ineffective.
You see a job posted on Indeed.com for a job you’re really interested in. Do you click “Apply Now”? First, look to see if the job is advertised on the company’s own website. Applying on the company’s website is generally preferred to applying through a job search portal, even if the application button takes you to the same form. (That way, it will list the source of the application as the company website, and not Indeed.com.)
After you apply online, don’t stop there. Use LinkedIn and your own contact lists to see if you are already connected with someone at the company. Reach out to him or her and see if you can find the name of the hiring manager. Connect with the hiring manager directly by email or phone.
There are many more common errors jobseekers make. We’ll discuss more of them in the coming weeks.