By Cindy Kraft, RCPBS, RCOIS, CCM, CCMC, CPRW, JCTC
There are many ways job seekers sabotage their search efforts. As humans and creatures of habit, we tend to get in our comfort zone and stay there. The biggest mistake for all of us is to keep doing the same thing we’ve been doing – even when we are not getting the results we want.
If you are not getting the kinds of interviews and job offers you feel you should be getting, perhaps one of these common job search mistakes is the culprit.
1. Lack of a clear and realistic career focus.
This is a two-fold problem. Either a job seeker is desperate and “will take anything” and responds to any job whether he is a fit or not. Or, a job seeker doesn’t know what he wants to do and, using a vague me-centered objective, expects that a company can figure out where he’s a fit.
An Executive Profile that focuses on the value a job seeker brings to an organization is critical to forwarding the process. Think niche. Position yourself as knowing a lot about a little rather than a little about a lot.
2. Failure to identify and quantify marketable skills.
A clear career goal by itself is not enough. An employer looks at a job seeker’s “documented track record” in relation to his own bottom line.
The question a job search candidate needs to answer is, “how have my contributions positively impacted my employer.” Delineating and quantifying those accomplishments, versus listing a chronology of job titles and responsibilities, will distinguish you from the multitudes that rely on what they did rather than how they delivered.
3. Inadequate marketing documents. (Resume, cover letter, follow up letters)
Approximately 80% of job applicants are screened out at the paper stage. Candidates who fail to understand the power and importance of compelling marketing documents significantly reduce the chances of making it through the initial screen and therefore, increase the time they remain unemployed.
It is not unusual for a job seeker to have 20 to 40 interviews before getting “the” job. In order to get interviews, your marketing documents have to sell you as a valuable asset rather than an all-purpose commodity.
4. Poor references.
How much thought have you put into choosing and prepping your references? More than 90% of prospective employers do reference checks. Inadequate and vague responses from your references can kill your opportunity, so choose your references wisely and prep your references by sharing with them what you feel is most important to the prospective position and/or the company.
References should be tendered only when there is a job offer on the table.
5. Flunking the interview.
When you open your mouth, does your foot jump in? A whopping 90% of interviewees can’t answer even the most basic interview questions with confidence. And almost as many crash and burn during a pregnant pause.
Common sense tells us that if you want to win the job, you need to ace the interview. Winning the offer requires thorough research, preparation, and practice – practice – practice. Don’t tell what you did, sell how you impact.
Of course, the best positioning is to be the hunted rather than the hunter. A career plan … just like the business plan for your company … outlines where you want to be in 3-5 years with a clear strategy on how you will get there.