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Avoid These Top Job Search Mistakes

Making a cake relies on chemistry. You need the right amount of each ingredient to create a beautiful and tasty confection. Chemistry also plays a part in the job search.  Having the right mixture of skills, experience, a stellar resume, and interview finesse is the way to get hired.  If any of these components are lacking, your job search can be a flop.

The key to landing a new job is to differentiate yourself from the competition and connect the dots for the company—show how you can solve their most pressing dilemmas.  Avoid these top job search mistakes to secure your next job:

A vanilla resume—Consider your resume your PMD:  Personal Marketing Document. It shouldn’t read like a job description. Hiring managers know what your role was, they don’t know your story. What did you do that was unique? What skills will translate to the new position?  How did you solve problems? Leverage your resume to demonstrate your most important skills and give examples of accomplishments. 

Old school rules—Forget the rules about the length and formatting of your resume. Focus on what matters and highlight your experience in a compelling way.  Concentrate on your top five skills and the last 5-10 years of work. Listing dates and titles for early jobs is fine.

Dull descriptions—You need to make yourself stand apart, so don’t use clichés and tired phrasing. Every candidate is “hard working” and a “people person.”  You want to be “diligent, fast-moving, or agile” and be able to “build and maintain loyal relationships.” Use colorful action words.

Lame questions—During an interview, you want to ask simple, but smart questions. Get the interviewer to talk frankly about you, the company, and the position. Try, “Why did you come to work here?”  “What are the critical elements you need in a candidate for this job?” (this answer gives you the keys to the candy store!)  “Do you have any reservations about my background?”  This question allows you to address the interviewer’s misgivings.

Lack of real life examples—When the interviewer tells you what they need in a candidate, you must respond with on-the-job examples of how you’ve solved their problems and accomplished their goals.

Shoddy homework—It’s easy to investigate a company before a job interview. Do a google search, check out the website, research leadership, read press releases and blogs, and follow them on social media.  Gather information so you can ask intelligent questions and demonstrate that you’re already invested in the organization.

No thanks—You want to balance old school values with a modern touch.  Send a short, but personalized thank you email within 24 hours. 

Hesitation—Maybe you’re not sure about this job, so you don’t make 100% effort.  Sell now and evaluate later.  Get them to fall in love with you, then see if you love them back later.  If nothing else, it will give you good practice for the next interview. 

Underwhelming in person—You may look good on paper, but fizzle face-to-face.  Wow them in the interview. What are you most passionate about? Lead the interview with that.  Ask compelling questions.  Use your revised resume as a roadmap. It got you in the door, use it to get you through the interview. 

If you’re in the market for a new job, avoid these job search mistakes.  You can set yourself apart, land that next job, and celebrate sweet success!

Photo Credit: Motivating Words