There are dozens of job search websites with thousands of job listings out there. Half of the postings on these are either already taken, not often checked, or not real in the first place. And the legit offers on there only represent a fraction of the jobs available. It’s a lot to handle, and it’s even tougher to do a good job with it. If you’re overwhelmed by unemployment, there are some things you need to keep in mind. Here are 10 job hunting mistakes, and how to avoid them.
1. Limiting your search
Maybe you always dreamed of being a high profile marketing analyst. You’ve limited your search to only that exact job descriptions. You type it into Indeed, enter your location and… 10 results. And none of them are what you wanted. One of the key job hunting mistakes that job hunters make is limiting their search to a small area and a smaller field. It’s important to understand that the job you start with is not the job you end up with. To get your start in your field, you may have to settle for something a little farther away and with a slightly different title than you originally intended. And that’s okay.
2. Not taking advantage of your network
Half of the jobs that people get are through a connection, not a job site. Think of who you know in the field you’re trying to break into. Use distant relatives and old neighbors. Any adult will understand the struggle that you’re undergoing, and they’ll be happy to help. Ask around and find out who you already know who can help you.
3. Applying too quick
It can be so tempting to just send your resume in to the first hit on the job search site. This is a bad idea for two reasons. 1) You need to take the time to customize your resume and cover letter for each position you apply for. Employers can tell when they’re getting the same generic copy & paste as everyone else. Instead, tailor your paperwork to the job description and do some research on the company. And 2) if you’ve taken the time to do all that, you’re going to exhaust yourself after one application. If you’ve spent an hour getting one application all set up, you’re gonna be done before you can even start a second one. Instead, schedule it all out to divvy up the labor. Which brings us to mistake #4…
4. Not keeping track
It’s tempting to just apply to anything that comes across your dashboard. The issue with this is that you lose track of who you’ve applied to (and you can’t follow up later!). This creates an issue in that you lose touch with the jobs you do want, and if a job wants you and calls you up, you may have no information on them and be unable to perform in a phone conversation that decides the position. If you’ve applied to 20 jobs this week, you’re not going to remember the details of each one. You’re also not going to be able to go back and find the info you need if you do manage to score an interview. Instead, keep a spreadsheet containing the position, date you applied, job description, company name and contact information.
5. Not following up
Your spreadsheet will also help you avoid job hunting mistakes like not following up. Within a week of applying (or a week of the application deadline, if you applied early) you should be emailing or calling your contact at the company you applied to. If the job listing didn’t have a contact posted, call the main company line and inquire about who is hiring and ask to speak to them. Making a direct connection is huge for getting hired. You should also be sure to follow up after interviewing, not just after applying.
6. Not applying if you’re unqualified
You may be scared off by the list of qualifications in the job description, but don’t be! The vast majority of applicants don’t check every box. Employers know this. The job description is a wishlist of what their dream candidate might look like, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be considered. If you’ve never had business experience and they require it, apply anyway. By showing determination and a willingness to learn, you make yourself way more qualified than some no-brain with five years of business experience and no tenacity.
7. Applying too late
Some of the easiest job hunting mistakes are exactly what you’d think. If you find a good listing, make sure you take note of the application deadline. The fastest way to knock yourself out of consideration is waiting until after the due date has passed. Organize your spreadsheet so that you apply to each listing before it’s too late.
8. Not talking in person
There are a hundred people applying online, and a hundred faces behind those resumes. The best way to make an impression is to try to come in in person. It may be intimidating, but if there is a position you’re dying for see if you can fight your way into a face to face meeting. It’ll make you way more memorable and way more likely to score the job.
9. Settling for one job interview
You should never stop looking after you’ve booked a single interview. It may feel like a huge breakthrough in your job hunt, but you don’t know how many interviews they’re handing out. An interview is no where near a job offer, so keep hunting. It’s best to get a few interviews set up in a week. Not so many so that you can’t study up on the company beforehand though!
10. Not giving it the time it deserves
If you’re still in school, you need to treat this like another class. Glancing over monster.com every few days is going to do nothing for you. Dedicate a solid hour to this every night if you’re really serious. Make a to-do list of what you’d like to get done, like “Monday: save 10 listing; Tuesday: apply for 5; etc.” By giving yourself something that you’re held responsible for every day, you make sure that the work gets done. Job hunting is something that can often feel unquantifiable and therefore easy to ignore. Hold yourself accountable and you’ll be grateful later, when you’re hired.