Top 5 Job Search Blunders to Avoid

Most of us will know or have an understanding that when looking for a new job and a new role, networking can be of huge value and importance. However, for many of us, there may be a difference in the definition of what ‘networking’ really means.

I received a few emails on this recently which has spurred me onto thinking –hey I should really write something on this and job hunting online generally if it will help people with their job searches and especially if they are putting hours and hours of time and effort each day doing what is highly ineffective. So – here I will use examples from 2 people I have come across recently. One email from – let’s call her Sally (to save embarrassment) said:

‘About networking – it depends how you define “really networking”(see article: 5 Good Ways NOT to Network) I’m regularly sending out e-mails and adding people on LinkedIn. But this is often to very little avail, and I’ve never been on a course about “how to network effectively”. My progress over the years has been in a kind of “trial-and-error way”, which I’ve supplemented with the odd suggestions from friends, recruitment professionals, and university career advisers’

Unfortunately, this does not seem to be hugely uncommon. He carries on after a few exchanges to say – ‘I was expecting you to say that I needed to be bolder in my communications with others, more persistent, less honest, and a lot pushier (just like how a lot of head-hunters are with me, and the sales-people I’ve met are) – but it turns out I’m completely wrong!’. Right – so I can’t divulge everything in 1 blog but I can try to make a start – so here goes with some of the biggest online job-hunting mistakes that I have been hearing about recently:

1. Sending out blanket emails to people you do not know

When people receive emails from those they do not know – it is ‘spam’. They do not know you and so why should they care – well they do not usually care about you or what you are after. If you are sending out masses of emails into the cyber abyss – people reading and receiving these can tell. It’s generic, impersonal, and usually highly annoying to the reader. Why on earth should they help you – they do not know you – and you have not taken the time to get to know them!

Imagine you are a top manager somewhere going about your day job… – then – you get hundreds and hundreds of emails from people asking for a job. So – unsurprisingly this approach is a big waste of time. Targeted emails/letters – which have been thought through and worked through – is a different story and probably best left for a separate blog.

2. Adding anyone you can find to your Linkedin

I receive several invitations from people who I do not know, to connect and ‘join their professional network’ on LinkedIn. Do I accept these invitations – nope! I usually send a message back asking how I can help. There is also a polite ‘Have we met!?’ note as well to hint at the fact that adding randoms is not a good idea! Getting a reply at all is very lucky. What will usually happen is:

They will hit the ‘I don’t know this user’ button, which means you will never be able to contact that person again. If it is done several times – LinkedIn will stop you from being able to openly contact people – until you start being ‘good’ and sensible again.

Read this article to learn how to use social networks and social media in your job search: How to use social media to job hunt

3. Sending your CV to anyone you can get your hands on

I did not know Sally yet the minute she got the chance to – she sent me her CV. So what am I supposed to do with it? Ok – so there might be a chance that I have a job or know someone but am I inclined to help if I’ve just had a random CV pushed in my face? No – so don’t do it. Make sure your cover letter sounds professional but also with a human touch, and you may want to add some business cards into the envelope for a personal and professional touch.

Here’s some food for thought on CVs: Top 10 Features for your CV

4. Applying to all the ads you can find

The other day I was talking on the phone to Tom. He was down in the dumps and has been trying for many months to get a job. After asking what he’s been doing – he explains how he’s ‘you know, the usual – I sit for hours at a day going through job sites and applying for all the roles I can find’. When asked if there’s something specific he’s after – the reply is a no. He also ‘sits by the phone waiting for the recruitment agencies to ring, but they don’t. They aren’t really taking any notice of me’. Sad but true.

Spending hours of your time applying for everything under the sun without any focus or way to distinguish yourself from the crowd – will get you no-where. It will make you tired and frustrated perhaps but the likelihood of getting any of those millions of jobs you applied for is low.

You may want to check out How to Get on the Radar of Recuiters by the way.

5. Relying on recruitment agencies or headhunters

Following on from Tom’s comment on this – you cannot rely on the agencies of headhunters to magic up a job for you. It does not work like that. They are sitting on literally hundreds of thousands of CVs at any one time. Their CV database is huge. You are a number to them and they will only contact you if you happen to fit one of their roles. Given there are thousands of candidates for them to choose from – you cannot leave this as your only or main route to finding a job.

There is a general theme to the techniques used above. They are all impersonal, mass and volume orientated, time-consuming – and they just do not work! There is a great book ‘What Color is your parachute?’ which tells you that:

  • Using the internet as a way to look for a job is at the very most 10% effective
  • Mailing out resumes to employers at random is usually 7% effective
  • Answering job ads you see in the press, trade journals, etc are also around 7% to 24% effective at most
  • Using search firms, recruitment agencies is 5-28% effective

So the way that does actually work is to do what they call a ‘Life-changing job hunt’ where you look at what, where, and how. What we specialize in is actually an extension of this idea where we look at: what your skills are, what makes you, what you can do. Then we look at where you want to use those skills – so the options available to you. Then finally it’s the how – and from our experience, you get there most effectively via connections or what is more commonly referred to as networking. This method is around 90% effective.

Be smart about how you use your time. Get out there, talk to people, meet and get to know them properly. Be curious about them. Ask questions. Seth Godin has a cute note which sums up the need to be curious well in Why ask why?

Author: Nisa Chitakasem is the founder of Position Ignition – a careers company dedicated to taking you to the next step in your career. 

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