The 8 Biggest Mistakes Job Seekers Make

1)  Not Catering Resume | Cover Letter to EACH Job

Yes, this is time consuming but very necessary.  If you have 1 resume and cover letter that you send out to 25 jobs you have just wasted your time.  Employers are telling you exactly what they are looking for in the job description, so use that as your “cheat sheet” and cater your resume/cover letter accordingly.  Plus employers want to feel like you want to work specifically for them.  The cover letter is where you can make a personal connection with the reader and show the research you have done on the company.  You should mention accomplishments on your resume that directly relate to the job description.

2) Not Networking and Making Connections

60% – 80% of jobs are never advertised so if you are not networking to access the “hidden market” you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.  You should network before you really need to and have job prospects before you need them.  You never know who you might meet now that may be able to help you in the near future.  You should also have business cards with you at all times so those you meet will be able to contact you in the future.  When you meet someone connect with them on LinkedIn within 24 hours while they still remember you.  Be sure to personalize your invitation to include when and how you met.

3) Sticking to Traditional Methods

The days are long gone where you can just see a job online and apply and wait for the phone to ring.  That alone does not guarantee you a call for an interview.  Just like you are looking on the internet for a job so is everyone else.  You have to think of non-traditional methods that will set you apart from other candidates.  Some of those methods would be asking for an informational interview or connecting with employers first on LinkedIn; then very subtly asking them for tips on breaking into your desired industry or asking them to review your resume.  You can also mail your resume to an employer using snail mail.  Everyone likes to receive something in the mail so that will get the employer’s attention.  Also, sending a video resume, which is  your 1 -2 minute commercial, is a definite way to make yourself stand out.  You can send it to an employer right along with your regular resume.  Creating a “brand” on social media is almost necessary these days no matter what your industry is.  If you position yourself correctly you can let the job/employer find YOU.

4) Disqualifying Yourself on Social Media

Now, while it is important to create a “brand” on social media, it is equally as important to do it the correct way.  93% of employers nationwide use social media for reasons to hire or not hire a candidate.  Because they receive so many applicants, employers will Google your name and look you up online for reasons to eliminate you.  Those reasons might be inappropriate pictures, profanity, discriminating remarks, or negative comments about job/supervisor.  I would suggest you Google your name once month to see what an employer will see when they look you up.  If there is something out there that may raise a red flag, delete it.  Having more “professional” things like a LinkedIn profile, professional Twitter account, blog or portfolio will counteract anything negative that may be out there.

5) Not Marketing Yourself Appropriately

Your resume, cover letter, online presence and professionalism in person are how you market yourself.  They should all match and you should be the same on paper, online and in person.  If someone didn’t know you and only had to use your resume, cover letter and online presence to “judge” you or initially get an idea of who you are, what would your image be?  Think about your top 3 areas of expertise.  Does your brand match up with those 3 areas?

6) Poor E-mail Etiquette and Written Communication

I recently had someone whom I’d never met send me an e-mail like this….

             hey dena its michael, here is an updated resume…thank you so much for taking time out of your day and helping me with my resume!

This was all the e-mail said….nothing more.  So, I explained to this person that if I had been an employer I would have deleted it without replying.  An employer is very busy and receives numerous job inquiries so time is very critical.  They are assessing you in various aspects and you never know what will cause a red flag.  You should never send an e-mail like you would send a text message.  If you’re not getting any responses to your e-mail, it could be your e-mail etiquette.  You always want to be very professional and use correct grammar.  Address the employer by Mr./Ms. with their last name until they tell you it’s okay to call them by their first name.  You can’t say you have great written communication skills on your resume and have a poorly written e-mail or cover letter.

7) Not Answering Interview Questions Adequately

There are several types of interview questions – traditional, behavioral, hypothetical, etc.  You should be prepared to answer all of them and you MUST practice. Even the most seasoned job seeker should practice answering questions in a manner that comes across natural and conveys what he/she can do for the employer.  That should be your focus – letting employers know what you can do for them and how you can solve a problem or fill a need that they have.

Traditional questions generally relate directly to the job duties and are asked to understand your background and experience better.  Behavioral questions are asked to see how you would handle certain situations.  Have SPECIFIC examples prepared for these types of questions.  Hypothetical questions are asked to see how well you think on your feet and perhaps to see what reaction the question will get.

For tips on answering the various types of questions, read my other blogs, view my videos on YouTube (www.youtube.com/denabilbrew) or look up the various types of interview questions on Google.

8) Not Following Up

It is very important that you follow up as that could be the difference in whether you get the job or not.  You want to follow up to an interview or networking event immediately – preferably within 24 hours.  Send them additional information about you – LinkedIn profile, letters of recommendation, portfolio, etc.  Thanking the employer for his/her time is a nice gesture and proper etiquette.

 

Social Media & Your Job Search – How to Let the Job Find YOU

Social Media is everywhere.  Let’s face it…you can’t go too long without checking your Facebook page, tweeting on Twitter, pinning on Pinterest or looking up something on Google on your mobile phone.  This is the world we live in.  You can find whatever you need or practically whoever you are looking for through Social Media.  So why not use this to your advantage in your job search?

There used to be a time many years ago when job seekers had to actually “pound the pavement” to look for a job.  They would look through the newspaper to find openings and call the employer or go to the location in person to fill out an application and submit their resume.  In the 1990s the internet came and people could search for openings that way.  They would identify companies that they were interested in and submit their resume on the company website.  Then the new millennium introduced job boards where you could upload your resume and search for jobs all in one place.  Now, we have social media where you can basically let the job find you — if you use it correctly.

93% of employers say that they utilize social media in their recruiting efforts.  They use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a few others to find out additional information about candidates.  If they have several candidates to choose from they will use social media to decide who they will call for an interview.  They use these tools to find out the good and the not so good.  The benefit to employers is speed, transparency, authenticity and an overall view of candidates.  They are also looking for ways to “weed” candidates out such as unprofessional pictures, profanity and poor communication skills, discriminating comments based on race or sex, negative comments about employers and lying about qualifications.

Knowing this information you should be careful as to how you position yourself on the internet.  The truth of the matter is if you’re not using social media and an employer can’t find you, you may be viewed as out of touch and/or irrelevant.  Keep in mind, your “brand” should be the same no matter what medium you use.  If you have enough positive stuff out there the negative stuff will go down to the bottom of the pile and perhaps never be seen.  Here are some tips to help you use social media effectively.

1.  Google yourself at least once a month.  This will help you to see what an employer sees when they search for your name online (and they WILL search for you online). You may find some things out there that you didn’t even know existed.  When I googled my name a while back, I found an e-mail I posted to a Yahoo group back in 1996!  Thankfully it wasn’t anything that could harm me all these years later.

2. Delete anything that could raise any red flags.  You never know what might turn a potential employer off so don’t give them anything that might raise an eyebrow.  If you even think for a second that it might not be appropriate, it probably isn’t….so delete it!

3. Have only professional pictures that are accessible to the public.  Think carefully about what pictures you post.  Some pictures should be reserved for family and friends only.  You should think, “Is this an image that I want a potential employer to see?”

4. Don’t just use social media for personal purposes.  It is a great way to connect with potential employers and industry leaders.  You can follow companies and find out the latest happenings.  You can network with people in your industry and get some insight.  You may have to have a personal protected Twitter account for family and friends and a professional public Twitter account for networking.

5. Set up a profile on LinkedIn.  This is the #1 way to network these days and a great tool to meet potential employers.  I recently heard an employer say that if a candidate does not have a LinkedIn profile, she won’t even consider them for an interview!  Yikes!! Also, be sure you have 100% profile completeness.  You won’t be taken seriously with a profile that is half complete.  (Read my blog:  “LinkedIn 101:  10 Tips to a Superstar Profile“)

6.  Use social media to position yourself as an industry leader. You can write blogs. You can tweet helpful tidbits on Twitter.  You can join a conversation on a LinkedIn group.  Share your opinions and knowledge with others.  You never know who may like what you have to say.

7.  Develop a website or online portfolio.  This is a great way to include your experience and qualifications all in place.  It allows you to be creative and will enhance your resume and other traditional documents.  It ultimately gives an employer more insight into who you are.  Be sure to include the link to your website or portfolio on your resume, e-mail signature, and LinkedIn profile.

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If you need career assistance, please contact Dena Bilbrew at resumelady101@gmail.com.