Career experts say applicants sabotage themselves by making these six mistakes.
It’s true that the job market in many professions is extremely tight. Even so, experts say that unemployed people too often make things difficult for themselves by sabotaging their job search. If you want to find a job now, avoid these six common job-hunting mistakes.
1. Being Passive
Some of the worst things a job seeker can do are staying home, avoiding networking or just not following through, according to Susanne Goldstein, career development consultant and author of Carry a Paintbrush: How to Be the Artistic Director of Your Own Career. “When you have a lead, you need to know how to use it well and follow up professionally,” she says. “Complete tasks, send emails with proper grammar [and] make the follow-up calls.”
Jean Baur, senior consultant at recruiting firm Lee Hecht Harrison and author of Eliminated! Now What? Finding Your Way from Job-Loss Crisis to Career Resilience, agrees. “Even if you’re employed, you have to keep your resume-up to-date, keep your network strong and continually growing, and keep updating your skills and learning what’s in demand in the marketplace.”
2. Jumping to Conclusions
Misinformation and bruised egos can lead job seekers to make assumptions that are not always correct. “When people say, ‘I’m not getting offers because I’m too old, too young, too experienced, too inexperienced, too whatever,’ those are just excuses and not even based in reality most of the time,” Baur says. “You need a coach, a network or just a few wise friends who can give you a clear view of what you’re doing right and wrong.”
3. Holding Out for the Perfect Job
If you’re getting by on unemployment benefits, you may be tempted to hold out for the exact job you want and deserve. You may think taking a lesser job will hinder your career path, but a long stint of unemployment could do even more damage to your resume and bank account, according to Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Human Resources Solutions and author of Suddenly in Charge. “Who cares what color your parachute is?” she says. “Take the right-now job, excel at it and keep networking until you find the dream job.”
4. Being Inflexible
Today’s workforce needs to be more mobile than ever. But if you have a mortgage or can’t imagine leaving your great school district, you may overlook some great opportunities that require moving. If you can’t relocate, consider whether you can work from home in a telecommuting job. If you’re young, just coming out of college or in a new town, it’s a good idea to rent so you can keep your options open, Matuson says.
5. Making It All About You
Companies hire people out of need, not out of altruism, Goldstein says. She recommends not going about your job search or interview with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude. “Be an aspirin,” she says. “Learn about the company, find out what the company’s pain is and show them how your skills can be solution to that pain.”
6. Having a Cynical and Negative Attitude
The more companies that pass you over, the more tempting it is to develop a chip on your shoulder. But this creates a vicious circle, Matuson says. “Cynicism and other negative attitudes come across in job interviews — and even in letters — and those attitudes can sink your chances,” she says. Matuson’s advice: Surround yourself with positive people, and, if possible, as many employed (or unemployed-but-positive) people as you can.