Reports on the uncertainty of the current economy are dominating the headlines, and it’s easy to allow those stories to weigh on you, especially if you are in the middle of drawn-out a job search. Instead of feeling helpless, remember that in any economy, companies need good people. And by fine-tuning your job-search strategy, you may be able to land a position that seems out of reach.
Consider these job-search traps and ways to avoid them:
You put all your eggs in one basket: If you’re like most job seekers, you probably heavily rely on the Internet to help you in your job search. While the Web can come in handy as a way to research potential employers, determine which companies are hiring and locate positions specific to your area, for example it should be just one of the many tools you employ. Also consider scanning trade and business publications, networking with professional contacts and registering with a staffing firm to broaden your search.
You don’t make finding a job a full-time job: Sending out a handful of résumés a week is a lot like tossing a single bottle into the ocean and hoping someone responds to the message you left inside. To find a job, you must cast a wide net. It’s a numbers game, and the more inquiries you make, résumés you submit and employment interviews you go on, the better your chances of success. Of course, these activities all require a significant input of time and effort, so set aside at least a few hours each day to focus solely on your job search.
You’re less than perfect: Believe it or not, even one typo or grammatical goof in any of your application materials could be keeping you from finding a new position. With dozens or even hundreds of candidates to evaluate, a hiring manager won’t think twice about passing on the applicant who has five years of “word professing” experience. In fact, according to a survey by our company, 47 percent of executives polled said a single typo on a résumé could eliminate a candidate from consideration for a job opening.
Ask another person to review your application materials before you submit them. Taking 10 extra minutes to make sure everything is error-free can save you from spinning your wheels by sending out a flawed résumé.
You don’t follow up: One easy way to stand out from the crowd of applicants: Follow up with the hiring manager after submitting your résumé. According to a survey by our company, 86 percent of executives said job seekers should contact a hiring manager within two weeks of sending a résumé and cover letter. Yet few candidates do. Often a brief phone call or e-mail reasserting your interest in the position and strong qualifications is enough to cause a potential employer to revisit your résumé.
You fix too many ‘problems’: The average job seeker who has been on the hunt for a while usually responds to periods of little success by taking a cold, hard look at his or her résumé, cover letter, sources of leads and interview techniques. That’s the wrong approach. Evaluating all aspects of your job search and revamping each one is like taking 10 medications for a minor head cold: It’s a lot of extra effort and could cause more harm than good.
A better approach is to diagnose your specific job-search ill and focus on strengthening just that one part. Say you’ve gone on several interviews, but you still haven’t received any offers. The problem likely exists solely with your interview skills after all, your résumé and cover letter are drawing heavy interest from employers. Making significant changes to your application materials could cause other companies to overlook you. Instead, reviewing questions you’ve been asked by hiring managers thus far and practicing your responses with a friend could be all you need to land the next job.
You don’t network: The simple truth is that networking is the most effective way to find a new job. A referral from someone you know is likely to land you an interview with a prospective employer or, at the very least, move your résumé to the top of the consideration pile. Even if your contacts are unaware of any immediate openings, they may be able to introduce you to others who do have job leads.
The best part about networking: It’s easier to do than you think. Talk to friends, family members, former co-workers and supervisors, professionals you meet at industry events even your doctor and dentist about your job search. And, as more professionals are finding out, online networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook can open up even more potential avenues for referrals.
You haven’t registered with a staffing firm: Registering with a staffing firm/ recruitment agency/ online jobsite can dramatically increase the size of your network. The professionals who work for these companies have contacts throughout their industries and often know of job openings that are not being actively promoted. In addition, the staffing professional you partner with can handle much of the job-hunting legwork for you by distributing your CV, setting up employment interviews and keeping an eye out for promising opportunities.
Even during periods of economic uncertainty, there are jobs to be had, especially for candidates who have the right skills and qualifications. After all, companies are always looking for talented employees. By avoiding the above job-hunting traps, you’ll be better able to demonstrate your value to potential employers and strengthen your chances of finding the job you want.
Robert Half International Inc. is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.