Today’s job market doesn’t give you the wiggle room to be anything less than exceptional. It’s good to keep these major pitfalls at the top of your mind. Don’t be that guy.
Want to know how to fail? It’s easy…
1. Don’t Follow Up: Follow up, follow up, follow up. The people you are dealing with have full, busy days. You need to stay top of mind. As long as you are aren’t making more than one to three connection attempts per week, you don’t need to worry about bothering them.
2. Don’t Personalize Your Resume & Cover Letter: Personalization is about two things: showing investment in the opportunity and displaying yourself in the most positive terms possible. Show investment by clearly displaying it through research, connection or visual branding. Consider how to portray yourself and your skills most effectively for each opportunity. This means re-taking and revising the job section of our assessment for each application!
3. Don’t Research: Research is key to showing that you care, that you can find information and that you are intelligent — three key aspects of the job hunt! Make sure you read the whole company website, including the last few months of their blog, Google the company, the CEO and any executives in your field. Additionally, when you know who will be interviewing you, Google them too!
4. Don’t Connect with Lots of People: However many people you are connecting with or connected to, you should aim to meet more. A large, high-quality network is the best safety net you can have for your job search. Research shows that “loose” connections (friends of friends and similar) are where the majority of job opportunities are found.
5. Don’t Send Thank-You Notes: Thank-you notes are a key part of following up. They instill positive feelings about your mutual experience and show that you are organized and effective. Surprise notes, like to the executive assistant who gave you the inside scoop on the dress code, are uber effective and often ensure that you have their vote.
6. Don’t Offer a Clear Value Proposition: Tell companies why they want you! This sounds obvious, but many applicants get caught in stories of what they have done or narratives about what they want. Rather, as a revolutionary, you will tell the company why they want you.
7. Don’t Prepare Your References: There is nothing worse than calling a reference who doesn’t know that they are a reference. And, only slightly better when they don’t know what the industry and position are for the opportunity. Make sure that your references are TOTALLY prepared to speak with potential employers by arming them with the information in advance. Do the work for them — tell them what you want them to say!
8. Be DESPERATE: The only thing you will get if you offer to do anything is nothing. Confidence and initiative are imperative during the job search. You can think of it a bit like dating… no one is attracted to someone desperate. Approach each interaction as an equal.
9. Make It All About You: An application is supposed to be all about you, after all, it is selling you… right? WRONG! This is a very common mistake in sales and it is a killer. Applications, interviews, emails, they are all about the other person and the value you will bring to them. Ninety percent of materials should focus on the core value you will deliver.
10. Don’t Make a Good First Impression: Poor first impressions change the one-mile jog you were about to go on into an uphill marathon. It may not be possible to recover from a bad first impression. To impress, dress a notch up, stand up straight with deliberate eye contact and learn the art of the handshake!
11. Be a Debbie-Downer: Positivity rocks. No one wants to work with a negative nelly and a positive attitude is often the difference between success and failure. Even when talking about the worst boss and job ever-in-the-world, it is important to have a positive outcome, if with strong lessons learned. How can you change your frustration into lessons?
12. Use Only One Strategy: Today’s market is competitive and deep. It’s important to use multiple strategies for your job search — at the same time and, often, for the same position. Don’t only use big job boards, but don’t totally ignore them either. Build your network, but don’t solely depend on it. Anything you can do to decrease your dependence is gold.
13. Don’t Build Your Network Before You Need It: Networks are something unquestionably best built before it is needed. That said, many people who enter the job hunt have to then reach out to contacts that are long overdue, which can be an uncomfortable undertaking. If, rather, your network is fresh and readily abreast, it will be much more quickly useful and powerful.
14. Uhh, Pepper Your Speech, Like, With, Umm, Filler Words: Nothing makes you come across dumber, quicker than littering your speech with verbal ticks. Like, umm and uhhh all count. Practice taking them out!
Don’t be that guy. Be the one who gets the job offer.
Rebecca Rapple has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Keith Ferrazzi’s My Greenlight and more. Your can learn more about the fundamentals of a remarkable job search on her site, The Resume Revolution.