Silly Mistakes That Kill Your Job Search

Few things are more frustrating than being engaged in an unproductive job search.  When you spend hours sifting through “help wanted” ads, and send resume after resume into what seems like the Bermuda Triangle, never hearing anything back, it’s hard to know what exactly you’re doing wrong.  I know, because I lived that situation for many months as a young professional, before I learned a few simple secrets.  Years later, I see job-seekers (young and old) making the same mistakes I did, over and over again.  Just so you don’t have the same experience, let’s get clear right now about two of the biggest mistakes you can make.

Failing to Automate

Job seeking is at its core a sales job, and any salesperson worth their pay will tell you that there’s tremendous value in having an automated source of leads.  When it comes to your job search, the best way to automate your search (at least partially) is to take advantage of the algorithms that websites like have implemented to match job-seekers with employers.  Sites use your own data that you provide them, along with data from millions of other job searches, to predict where you’re most likely to find a match between your skills and an employer’s need.  That’s the catch, though.  Because they rely on your own data, the algorithms don’t work as well unless you feed them.  You’re making a big mistake if you don’t pick a website or two, upload your full and complete resume, fill out a profile, and run a few searches using your preferred keywords.  When you do provide this information, make sure to sign up for free email alerts.  You’ll find that you get a list – at least once per week – of numerous jobs that could be a fit for someone with your education and experience.  Be open-minded, but also provide the website with feedback wherever possible.  It’s learning from your every move, and in this case that’s a very good thing.  If you’re still not convinced that providing large amounts of information to an online job board is a good idea, check out this piece by Bloomberg Business.  It’s more food for thought that just might tip the scales for you.

Sending Resumes without Personal Contact

Lest the comments above tempt you to spend hours of time on internet job boards, with little regard for other activities, consider another important fact.  More people find jobs through personal connections than they do from online job boards.  A formal poll by Jobvite in 2011 demonstrated this, and its findings are supported by multiple other studies.  In the Jobvite poll specifically, individuals were asked what resources they used to land their current job.  Read through the full results (especially Slide 12) and imagine what might happen to your search if you used an online job board to finding open positions where you knew someone who could personally recommend you!

That’s the strategy I teach my clients.  A few websites like LinkedIn make this particularly easy, since you can search for jobs and see whether you’re connected to any current or past employees through your social network.  I recommend reaching out to friends and colleagues before you formally apply, and ask them questions about how the hiring process typically works at their company, since this may help you fine tune your approach.  Sending a resume to a company without making any type of personal contact (preferably through a close friend or family member) is the second big mistake that too many people make.

Using these two strategies can potentially shave weeks, or even months, off your job search.  There isn’t anything sneaky or unethical about them, and literally everyone has the opportunity to apply them during a job search.  Why wouldn’t you do this?

Have you tried either or both of these before?  How specifically did you apply these methods, and what were the results?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.