There are many ways to give yourself the best odds when you're looking for a job — and just as many ways to ruin them. Here are five common mistakes that people make that keep them from getting the job of their dreams.
Apply without a plan
If you don't have a job now, you might feel like applying to every possible job can help maximize your chances of finding something that can work for you. In fact, this doesn't help at all and can distract you from going hard after the jobs you really have a chance with. "People who say, 'I need to consider anything and everything' are really doing themselves a disservice," says Lisa Arnold, director of recruiting at Versique in Minneapolis. "A person who is general in looking for a job or in talking about what you have done is really going to be left behind in this market." Instead, identify the job you really want and what you need to do to get it.
Ignore your online presence
A strong, professional online presence can be a big plus when you're looking for a job. "I see a lot more (hiring) clients really using those tools to do more due diligence on a candidate," Arnold says. "One of the first thing clients ask is, 'How many connections do you have on LinkedIn?' That's starting to matter." Sharing information through your social networks about issues in your field can show hiring managers that you are plugged in and keeping up with changes in your industry. "It will display your brand," Arnold says.
Make a laundry-list resume
Many people put together resumes that are simply a travelogue of where they've been over their working years. This step-by-step plodding through your jobs is neither compelling nor useful to people making hiring decisions. Instead of highlighting the position and dates you worked, talk about skills you gained, problems you solved and any recognition or promotions you got because of them. Make your resume less about descriptions and more about actions. "You have to have a really clear message," Arnold says.
Don't research the company
This sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how often it happens. Take the time to research the company you're applying at -— its core mission, its strengths and its challenges. Has it been in the news lately? Why? If it hasn't, why not? Whether you know anything about the business will come through in your cover letter and interview, so do your homework and find out what you can.
Underestimate your value
Once you've identified the job you want, spiffed up your resume and online presence, and done your homework on the company, don't settle for less than you deserve. Find out what similar positions pay and your opportunities for advancement. "Go out there and know what your value is in the market and don't deviate from that," Arnold says. Too many times, she says, people tend to settle for something less. That affects the entire profession, lowering the value for the skill set.
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