Fatal Job-Search Mistakes

1. No one knows you are job searching

Your network of friends, family, and colleagues can be your biggest assets when you are job searching. Be specific with them about what type of employment you are seeking.

2. Your “job searching” only includes applying online.

Your job-search strategy should be a multi-pronged approach. It should include applying online, reaching out to your personal network, making new connections, doing informational interviews, using social media, and more.

3. Your resume is dull

Updating your resume means more than adding your most recent job or volunteer position. Make sure your resume is more than just a series of job descriptions. The document must tell the employer why you are right for this job. Also, quantify whenever and wherever you can. (Please see my previous blog post on effective resume writing.)

Also, while words are important, so is design. The look and polish of your resume speaks a lot to employers and can signal whether you are detail-oriented. You may want to employ a service to help you both in the content and layout of this important document.

4. You have no social media presence or a negative one

Firstly, do not let your social media presence work against you. The majority of recruiters will scan your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles to look for red flags before they hire you.

But even more importantly, use social media to help you find a job or get you recruited. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the three sites recruiters use most. So, complete your LinkedIn profile with a professional picture and good headline. Create an enticing Twitter bio and reach out to recruiters on Twitter who work for employers you like. Also, I encourage you to participate in recruiting and job hunt Twitter chats.

5. You do not know how to use an informational interview to your advantage

One of the best things you can do when you are job searching is conduct informational interviews. This simply means you connect and ask questions of people who work in your field of interest, work at a firm/company you want to work for, or simply have great connections in your industry.

You may want to know how to find these people? Ask your network (and ask them to make an intro for you), search on LinkedIn (and look for shared connections for the intro) or Facebook or Twitter for a start. I would recommend that you introduce yourself via a short email first. You can always follow up with a phone call. ALWAYS make the meet-up convenient for them and specify a limited period of time the meet-up would take.

Your email could read something like this: “I have recently been considering making a transition from XXX to YYY. I would love to hear how you got started in the field/company YYY. I am sure you are really busy, but if you have 30 minutes in the next two weeks, I would be interested in buying you a cup of coffee at a location convenient for you or stopping by your office for a quick chat.”

Most people know the purpose of these meetings and many will be open to meeting with you. People usually like to talk about themselves and the work they enjoy.

When you are at the meeting, briefly tell them about yourself and what you are looking for, but focus mainly on them, asking questions about what they do. In addition, I would never send your resume up front unless they ask for it, but attach it in a sincere thank-you email. The key to these meetings is to follow up. These people were gracious enough to spend time sharing their experiences with you, so make sure you genuinely thank them for their time and insight.

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