The job search ‘strength’ that’s actually holding you back

14 things most people get wrong about the job search

There is a recurring mistake that many job seekers make that keeps them from being hired. The irony is that many people think that making this error will work in their favour. It won’t.

Because I have been writing about finding jobs and navigating the workplace for so many years now, people often ask me for career advice. With the pandemic easing up and people re-evaluating their work and lifestyles, a great many are changing cities or towns right now. It seems like everyone is on the move suddenly.

Case in point. I received an email from my cousin who is planning to move to Halifax and is looking to line up a job in advance. He says that he has already sent out ‘hundreds’ of resumes to all kinds of jobs and hasn’t received any responses at all.

This is an example that critical job search blunder that I mentioned. The mistake is applying for lots of jobs randomly. Being willing to take any job. That lack of focus will kill your chances.

If my cousin is sending out hundreds (I doubt it’s literally ‘hundreds, but y’know, a lot) of resumes to every open position he can find, just to land a job in a new city, then it is doubtful that he is taking the time to tailor these applications to the needs of the specific employers. He’s just mass applying with a generic resume, and that is why employers aren’t responding.

When you are moving to a new city, or even just looking for a new job, you must focus your job search. It’s a job seeker’s market right now. There are jobs available in manual labour, high tech, finance, healthcare, hospitality and many more sectors. However, how you apply and what you highlight in your resume will vary by industry.

Think about what you really want to do, what you would be good at, and where your skills and experience have a chance of standing out from the crowd of other applicants.

Candidates often think that the willingness to ‘take any job’ and be flexible is a strength that will make it easier for them to get hired. It isn’t. Mass applying for all the jobs you can find advertised with a generic resume rarely leads to interviews – or even any response at all. Employers want to see what you can do for them specifically, and they prefer candidates who take the time to demonstrate this in their applications.

Read job posting carefully and determine what skills and experience the employer looking for. If you are confident that you are able to assume the primary responsibilities and overcome the challenges of the job, then customize your application to show this. It is all about the focus.

Of course, I mean focussing on the needs of the employer. Another mistake candidates often make is in focusing on their own wants and needs from a job rather than what’s in it for the employer. This is understandable since we all need a paycheque and we want to get hired for a job that we like. Unfortunately, focussing on your own wants and needs won’t work.

My cousin writing to every job opening in Halifax because he wants to move to the city is a fitting example. Employers aren’t looking to hire some guy who will take any job because he wants to move. They are looking for candidates who are motivated to work for them specifically.

Sending out carefully customised job applications that highlight your key qualifications for a specific role is how you can stand out from the pack of generic applications.

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