Conducting a job search should involve doing it correctly. Listed below are some easily avoidable job search mistakes you must avoid making as you look for a new position.
Making a Bad First Impression
Start with a professional email address. An individual I know had a email address that essentially said: “Difficult-to-get-along-with-female.” She used different wording, but the impression was terrible. A more professional email address would be something like: JaneAndreaDoe@email.com or JohnWilliamSmith@email.com.
Be prepared to answer the dreaded first question: “Tell me about yourself.” Look at the answer to this question from the standpoint of the listener. What would interest the listener? Something from your background that would tie in with the position for which you are interviewing: If you are seeking an accounting position, particularly in the area of payroll, you may wish to say something like, “I am seeking a position as a Payroll Administrator” (the title of the position you are interviewing for). “I have more than six years experience in Payroll, with the last 3 as a Payroll Administrator. I have an Associates Degree in Accounting as well. One of my key strengths is ‘organization.’ In my last position, I was able to reorganize the payroll function so that payroll was ready for processing a full 24 hours ahead of schedule. My last position was as Payroll Administrator for XYZ Corporation.”
Your appearance is vital. If you want a position in a professional company as a Payroll Administrator, don’t dress like the Janitor or the Landscaper. Even casual companies expect you to dress up for the interview. It is like saying to the Interviewer: “This interview is very important to me, and I wanted to look my best for you.” Check your hair. Are your shoes shined? Does your suit fit? Are your clothes properly tailored? Do your colors coordinate? Look in the mirror? Would you hire yourself? The “Grunge” look is definitely out when it comes to conducting a job search. Look spiffy. Read John Malloy’s book “Dress for Success” if you can still find a copy.
Check your résumé or cover letter for grammar or spelling errors. With the help of today’s Word Processing software, spelling and grammar errors are much easier to locate. Use them.
Failing to Create a Marketing Plan for your Job Search.
With competition as strong as it is in the job search process, you must set yourself apart from the competition. Package yourself better. Look better. Use a strong résumé. Expand your job search to include several job search methods. Emphasize those job search methods that are most effective. Limit those job search methods that are less effective. And network, network, and network some more. Join an organization or association that fits the type of work that you do. Join the chamber of commerce. Attend networking meetings, and don’t just stand around when you do. Network.
Use LinkedIn. Once your résumé is finalized, download it to LinkedIn. You may need to make formatting and wording adjustments. Join some “Groups” that fit the type of work you do, or are wanting to do.
It is estimated that less than 2% of those being interviewed, send a “Thank You” immediately following the interview. Set yourself apart, and become part of that 2%. Further, a few days after the interview, compile a follow-up letter that addresses the job requirements of the position, and illustrate how hiring you will solve some of their problems, and send that follow-up letter or email to the hiring manager. And remember, unless you are interviewing for a job in Human Resources, the “Hiring Manager” is not the Human Resources Manager. The “Hiring Manger” is the individual to whom that position will report. In this illustration, the “Hiring Manager” is probably the Accounting Manger or Controller. In a very small company, maybe the company Owner.
In addition to eliminating these mistakes, there are three tenants of vital importance to you when conducting a job search. First, control your attitude and be positive. Second, be willing to get outside of your comfort zone. You are not comfortable attending a networking meeting. Tough. Do it anyway. Third, be persistent. Never give up.
You have nothing to lose, and a job to gain.
Richard M. Knappen is the president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California.