Five Mistakes You’re Making While Job Hunting (and How to Fix Them) | Whether you’re a new graduate seeking work for the first time, currently employed and looking for a career shift, or looking to re-enter the job market after becoming unemployed, finding a job can be difficult. It is work that you need to do with far more effort and time.
Navigating the application and interview process is time-consuming and complex enough that it’s easy to make interview mistakes. One slip can cause you the dream job you’ve been aiming for. Avoiding the common pitfalls like not getting to see resume samples and those below can help you win the job of your dreams.
Mistake: You Only Have One Version of Your Resume
While a resume is, at its core, a list of positions and professional accomplishments, it can be much more than that. Your resume communicates both what you have done and how those skills can be transferred to a new position. Because you will be applying for a variety of roles, you should have multiple resumes that highlight different strengths ready to send out. Applying for a technical position? Send out a resume that highlights your education and the practical skills you picked up at previous positions. If your potential role involves managing others, send a resume focused more on the way your previous roles allowed you to take leadership roles. The act of writing your resumes will also prepare you to answer questions about your qualifications during the interview process.
Mistake: You Send Out Generic Cover Letters
Searching for employment can be a time-consuming process; it’s easy to try and cut corners to get as many applications out as possible per day. One common time-saver is using a pre-made cover letter template and filling in basic details about each job. While there are hiring managers who don’t mind a boilerplate cover letter, others will throw out applications that clearly use the same letter for every job. Remember, your cover letter is the first part of a resume that a hiring manager will read. Use it as an opportunity to impress them! Instead of using a single template, consider writing three or four based on job type and customizing from there. Showing that you’ve made the effort to write something original will make you stand out against other candidates and might help land you an interview.
Mistake: You Don’t Aim High
What employers hope for and what they expect are two different things. If you have the skills needed to perform well in a position but lack the education or experience an employer lists as required, apply anyway! Use your resume and cover letter to make a case for why you are an ideal candidate. If you are entering a new field and don’t have experience in administrative systems, programming, or other specific job-related requirements, focus on how you learned their equivalents quickly at your last position. Even if you don’t get the specific job you’ve applied for, there’s a good chance that you will be considered if a relevant position opens up at that company.
Mistake: You Don’t Treat the Interview as an Equal Evaluation
Just like potential employers use interviews to evaluate whether you would be a good fit for their company, you should use that time to determine whether that company fits your needs. Think about what matters to you. Are you a workaholic who will happily work nights and weekends, or do you prefer a steady 40-hour workweek? Do you have health conditions that require good health insurance? How much time off do you prefer to take? Pick your top priorities and either ask directly at the interview or size them up as best you can from your surroundings. Don’t risk getting stuck in a job you hate just because you wanted to ace the interview.
Mistake: You Don’t Follow Up After the Interview
The interview itself can be a blur, but don’t forget to take down the names of your interviewers if possible. A few days after the interview, send them a note thanking them for their time. While a handwritten card can be lovely, an email will do if that’s all you can manage. Following up shows a commitment to getting the role as well as attention to detail. If you don’t get the role, it can also help build a relationship with those interviewers and a good reputation within that company for the next time you might apply.
Job hunting takes a lot of work, but a few key strategies can help you rise to the top of the resume pile.