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10 Common Job Hunting Mistakes You Need to Avoid

10 Common Job Hunting Mistakes You Need to Avoid

In this day and age, there are a lot of people looking for jobs. With universities pumping out hyper-qualified people in all fields, any little advantage you can get in searching for a job can go a long way. Avoid these 10 common job-hunting mistakes to get on the path to success!

1. Lack of Focus

Your resume should clearly tell a hiring manager why you are qualified for the position being offered. You may have been a great fry cook at that fast food chain, but that experience isn’t relevant to a job at a tech desk. Ideally you should have a few versions of your resume that are tailor-made for jobs in different fields.

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2. Typos

Proofreading your own writing is incredibly difficult. Your brain knows what you intended to write, so it will often skip over blatant errors that will jump out at anyone reading your resume. Enlist your friends to help you proofread your resume. Read all your emails backwards one word at a time. Doing everything you can to communicate clearly and without mistakes can separate you from the pack.

3. No Online Presence

There was once a time when you didn’t need to use the Internet to find a job, but that time has passed. Hiring managers will Google you, and the only thing worse than finding pictures of you doing a keg stand is finding nothing at all. At the very least, every job seeker should have an up-to-date LinkedIn profile with a few connections and maybe even a few recommendations.

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flickr via bpsusf
    flickr via bpsusf

    4. Not Doing Your Research

    When you finally get an interview don’t forget to find out everything you can about the company beforehand. Showing that you have taken an interest in the company and know about their mission and values will help prove that you are taking the opportunity seriously. Most companies have in depth “About Us” pages on their websites which are a great place to start!

    5. Only Applying to Job Postings

    If you walk through an apple orchard and only collect the fruit that has fallen on the ground, you are going to miss out on a lot of juicy apples still hanging in the trees. Don’t be afraid to be similarly proactive in your job search. Make a list of companies you would like to work for and email their HR people to inquire about current and upcoming jobs. Show them you want to be a part of their long-term vision and aren’t just applying to everything.

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    6. Not Using Your Network

    Part of knowing what companies might be hiring and which companies you actually would want to work for is talking to people with first-hand experience. Talk to friends and family working in similar fields and try to use your connections to get in touch with the right people. If you don’t know anyone working in your field, find some networking events and shake some hands. Who you know goes a long way.

    Eugene Kim
      flickr via Eugene Kim

      7. Bad Attitude

      Spending all day writing cover letters and cruising job boards with limited success is enough to frustrate anyone. However, it is important to stay positive. If you have a negative attitude about the entire job-hunting process, that will come through in your writing and in your interviews. Don’t take rejections personally and view each application as a new opportunity.

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      8. Being a Pest

      No one likes to be hounded constantly by an overeager stranger. Don’t spend your valuable time calling the same hiring managers over and over to stay on top of an application. One phone call to follow up is acceptable; anything beyond that gets you too close to the “annoying” pile.

      9. Unprofessional Email Address

      It may seem obvious, but an often overlooked element of applying to jobs is the email address you use. You may indeed use your sk8rboi87@hotmail.com email more than any other account, but it is not what your potential employers want to see. If you don’t have a university email to use, make a simple name-based account (firstname.lastname@website.com). It will make a world of difference.

      10. Botching the Cover Letter

      One of the easiest places to get lazy is on your cover letter. First of all, you always need one so never send in a bare resume again. Second, pay attention to what you are sending. If you are applying to a large number of jobs, you may use a form cover letter where you replace the company name and job title each time, but make sure you don’t miss an incorrect piece of information. Pay attention and proofread.

      Featured photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via flickr.com

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      Last Updated on December 3, 2019

      7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

      7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

      I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

      It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

      A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

      1. Define Career Success for Yourself

      Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

      What does career success mean to you?

      This is about defining your career success:

      • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
      • Not what people may think of you
      • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
      • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

      “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

      When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

      There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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      • Work-life balance
      • Opportunities for growth and advancement
      • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

      Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

      • What do you mean by work-life balance?
      • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
      • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

      Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

      • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
      • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
      • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

      Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

      • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
      • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
      • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

      Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

      Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

      What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

      2. Know Your Values

      Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

      There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

      Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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      • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
      • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
      • Put the words on your fridge
      • Add the words on your vision board

      Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

      3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

      When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

      How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

      Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

      • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
      • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
      • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
      • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
      • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
      • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

      Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

      • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
      • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
      • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
      • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

      Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

      By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

      4. Determine Your Top Talents

      What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

      What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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      What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

      What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

      What do you notice?

      5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

      Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

      I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

      Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

      Keep these words visible too!

      Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

      6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

      Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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      Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

      “These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

      7. Manage Your Own Career

      Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

      Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

      Summing Up

      For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

      Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

      Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

      1. Define Career Success for Yourself
      2. Know Your Values
      3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
      4. Determine Your Top Talents
      5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
      6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
      7. Manage Your Own Career

      “When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

      Good luck and best wishes always!

      More Tips on Advancing Your Career

      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

      Reference

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