8 Crucial Job Search Mistakes You Might Be Making
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8 Crucial Job Search Mistakes You Might Be Making

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8 Crucial Job Application and Job Search Mistakes You Might Be Making So, you’ve applied for 12 different jobs and you’re not getting any callbacks. You have experience and passion but clearly there’s something amiss. Chances are you’re making some missteps or job search mistakes in the job application process.

Did you personalize your resume and fine-tune it with problem-solving examples? Did you even include a cover letter? Are your interview responses long-winded or too practiced?

We talked with Los Angeles-based career coach Brad Waters to help you figure out what’s going wrong in your job search process – and how to fix it.

Mistake #1: You downloaded a resume template online
Say so long to bad shortcuts. HR managers know a cookie cutter resume when they see one. Because they see dozens a day – and pass them over, assuming this is how a candidate might approach the new job, too. “You are not a template of a person, so why use a template to represent you as a candidate?,” says Waters. “Templates are bad on so many levels. They’re full of hidden formatting that can cause you big headaches down the road. Plus, they are often distractingly ornamented with colors and lines and glitter and feathers. Do it right and start from scratch – this is your career we’re talking about.”

Mistake #2: Your resume is a list of zzzzz duties
Did you just copy your original job description and list boring bullet after boring bullet? Don’t do it, says Waters. “Instead, show off your quantifiable accomplishments, results of your actions, increasing responsibilities, specialized skills, and the uniqueness that sets you apart from everybody else who can answer a multiline phone and use Microsoft Word.” Snap!

Mistake #3: You keep cutting and pasting your cover letter over and over
No, no, and no. “Avoid just writing one cover letter and merely changing the company name for every job you apply for,” advises Waters. “Use that space to show genuine excitement for the position and an understanding of their organization. Illustrate, with a couple concise examples, how your history of accomplishments proves you can step in to solve their problems. Try to be warm and personable, don’t repeat what’s in your resume, and do keep it under a page. Keep in mind hiring managers receive dozens if not hundreds of resumes and cover letters – make yours short and sweet.”

Mistake #4: You don’t have a LinkedIn profile
Or it’s not as tricked out as it should be. “It’s not just a job search tool, but also a long-term investment in your career development,” he says. “LinkedIn allows you to express yourself with more detail than a resume, and it should look different from your resume. Think of your cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile as three teammates who work together but all have unique individual strengths. Standing alone, each one is good, but working together they will knock those socks off.”

Mistake #5: Your public social media posts are biting you in the %^$
The likelihood that someone on the hiring team will Google you? Highly likely. Waters says the best offense is a good defense. “Google yourself,” he says. “If you don’t like how you’re showing up, it’s time to clean things up. Have a friend look at your social media accounts to get an outside perspective. Are you in fisticuffs on Facebook? Inebriated on Instagram? Stop that. Tighten up those privacy settings.”

Mistake #6: You focused on clicking submit, instead of IRL networking
Simply Hired, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor - they can bring false hope, Indeed. “The majority of jobs are not being landed through postings on those big online job boards,” says Waters. “Spending hours a day perusing job search sites can feel like an accomplishment, but that approach is an illusion and a poor strategy. Hundreds, even thousands, of job seekers are clicking the submit resume button on those sites so the chances of landing an interview with that approach are slim. Getting interviews is often about who you know or what you’ve done to reach out to employers.”

Mistake #7: You assumed the phone screener wasn’t important
In the phone screener, the HR director or hiring manager is making sure you’re a good fit before anyone’s time is wasted with an in-person interview. “A phone screen is about leaving a positive and warm impression while confirming that you meet the general requirements of the job,” says Waters. “Both of those points can be accomplished if you have a few good stories in your back pocket. Think of times when you were at your best on the job and were proud of your accomplishment: you impressed your boss, solved a big problem, landed a major client, or prevented a disaster. With stories like that in hand, you’ll speak with specificity, confidence and enthusiasm and that’s the kind of candidate they’re after.”

Mistake #8: You slammed a former employer in the job interview
We’ve all been there – a bad boss, a chaotic workplace, unmotivated coworkers – but leave it where it belongs, in the past. Waters – who also blogs for PsychologyToday – says to focus on the present, and your hiring future. “Be a positive, enthusiastic, and passionate presence in that interview chair.”

Follow Brad on Twitter @bradwatersmsw and read more career and job application tips at BradWatersCoaching.com



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