Time to give up bad habits and stop making the same mistakes. Here are 14 things most people get wrong about the job search.
New year, new job search! Exciting, right? 2021 is a new opportunity and time to find the job you want and need. It’s also time to give up some of those bad job search habits and stop making the same mistakes. There are some job search mistakes we all make and things that everybody gets wrong. This may be because they were once right, because we just got used to doing things a certain way, or simply because we’re lazy. But it’s time to stop.
Here are 14 things most people get wrong about the job search (and that we’ll all stop getting wrong in 2021. Right?).
Sending the same resume for every job – Tailor your application materials for each job. Put the exact title of the role in there, match your skills to the skills in the job description, and make it fit. For Pete’s sake, don’t send your retail resume for an office manager job.
Sending the same cover letter for every job – Similarly, when it comes to the cover letter, you need to customize that thing for every job. Talk about the skills, qualifications, and accomplishments that make you a fit for that particular job at that particular company. Generic is not the way to go.
Not doing your research – The best way to demonstrate how awesome you are for a specific job is to learn as much as you can about the role and company. Don’t show up to the interview having no idea what’s going on. Know your stuff and show it.
Not making connections – Connections are more important than ever now that the job market is so difficult. You need friends who can help you and who want to see you succeed. You might not be able to go out and be social right now but you can still connect online. Do it now.
Only connecting with people when you need help – Make friends with people when you don’t need their help, not when you do. That way you have help at the ready. And don’t just reach out to your existing connections when you need them either. Check in to say hello and ask about their lives. Nobody likes a person they only hear from when that person wants something.
Thinking too much in terms of your own needs – Most people think of the job search in terms of their own wants and needs, which is totally natural and also counterproductive. Don’t think about what you need, ask yourself what the hiring manager needs, then be that thing.
Not preparing your interview answers and stories – You should know what an interviewer is likely to ask you and have your answers prepared beforehand. You should never not know how you’re going to respond to questions like “Tell me about a time you solved a problem,” or “How do you handle conflict?” These are things you should know. Sure, there may be curveballs, but you can usually predict the gist of most job interview questions.
Not knowing what your achievements are – If someone asks “What are you proudest of in your career?” you should be able to say exactly what that is. Under no circumstances should your answer be “Ummmm….I don’t know.” Have a list of achievements at the ready (in your head) so you can pull out an appropriate one on the spot.
Not sending a thank you note – Send a thank-you note after the interview. Just do it. Even if you’re mad at the world, and you think it’s totally ridiculous for you to send a thank-you note when companies ghost job seekers all the time (so, why should YOU waste your time being courteous?). It’s a few lines saying you appreciate someone’s time and consideration and it increases your chances of getting hired.
Not following up – Follow up a few weeks after the interview. If you have not heard from them for a few weeks, you probably didn’t get the job, but you can’t be sure unless you ask. Asking gives you closure and also places the responsibility on the hiring manager to let you know, a responsibility that too many people shirk and should be held accountable for. If you made it as far as the interview, you have a right to an answer one way or the other. If you don’t hear back after three follow ups, move on. But do follow up.
Not knowing your worth – You should know your worth, both figuratively and literally. This means having the confidence to pursue the job you want and to stand your ground on the playing field. It also means doing your research on how much a job for which you’re qualified pays, so you know what to ask for in salary negotiations.
Not asking for help – Not everyone has friends who can help them find a job, but if you’re one of the lucky ones, ask those friends to help you. Ask for leads and for help with your resume. Just talking about what you need to do can help you reach your goals. If you don’t have to do this alone, don’t.
Letting fear stop you – Don’t listen to that voice that says you’re not good enough for this job or that company. Don’t give in to the fear that, if you follow up with a hiring manager they’re going to decide not to hire you after all (because you bothered them). Because anyway, if that’s the type of person they are, you don’t want to work for them anyway. Be brave and do things you’re scared of. And remember, it’s not courage if you’re not scared.
Letting rejection discourage you – It’s hard, but you have to avoid getting down in the dumps over rejection. If you’re anything like the rest of us, you’re going to get ghosted and you’re going to hear “no” more times than you think you can handle. But, remember, many people are experiencing exactly the same thing. It’s not just you. That doesn’t pay the bills, I know, but it might provide some comfort. And only takes one person to say yes. That person is out there.