Common Job Search Mistakes
Learn how to avoid a few common mistakes while approaching your job search.
Is your job search crawling at a snail's pace when it should be cruising at a high altitude? The career experts at the Middle East's #1 job site Bayt.com advise that to get on the fast track, make sure your search approach is not suffering from any of the following fatal flaws:
Lack of structure and discipline
Treat the job search process as a job in itself and apply the same discipline and structure to your activities that you would apply to your job. Create a ledger of job search activities from researching a company on the internet or in publications to sending initial introduction letters to follow-up calls, follow-up notes, interviews and http://www.bayt.com/en/career-article-881/">thank-you letters. Update this ledger systematically and make sure you follow a disciplined process. Keep accurate records of your research results and be ready to refer to this knowledge in your telephone soft sell and in the interview.
A process of haphazard mailings and phone calls to companies you know very little about rarely yields positive results. Successful research will benefit you in three major ways.
Firstly, it will help you find the focus you need to target the right companies and positions. As you research investment management jobs for example, you may find that you would like to focus on those institutions that are strong in the emerging markets area as that will utilize your experience working in Asia and your Asian language skills. Your research effort will develop a momentum of its own as you identify areas and industries that appeal to you and research them further.
Secondly, it will reveal those skills and character traits that you need to highlight in your CV and other correspondence with the firm. You should be able to discern from your research activities whether you are in fact suited to jobs you are pursuing, in background, skills and temperament. Your research activities should be accompanied by thorough self-assessment in order to weed out unsuitable jobs such as those jobs that require hours longer than you would like, those that have demands too stringent for your taste, jobs with a workstyle or philosophy that doesn't suit you or companies where the general 'fit' is simply not right.
Thirdly, it will make you sound like an insider at the interview stage. Even if you have never worked in that particular field before, talking the industry lingo and being aware of company and industry developments will impress the person interviewing you.
Poor focus, major omissions, spelling and grammar mistakes and lack of emphasis on pertinent skills are common mistakes that immediately eliminate your CV from the search process. Perfect your CV. Make sure it represents you in the best possible light and that it is geared for the job you are targeting. Highlight those skills and attributes your research efforts have indicated would be in demand for the job.
No cover letter
Your cover letter is your chance to really sell yourself and highlight exactly those skills and personal attributes you think the employer is looking for. This is your opportunity to really shine so don't waste it or take it lightly. Write a glowing high impact reference letter for yourself that makes the employer eager to read your CV and meet with you. Too many CVs sent out without a cover letter get little more than a cursory glance from employers. Letters that are bland, boring, too long or lacking in enthusiasm rarely make the mark.
Many people make the mistake of networking just to "sell themselves" for an immediate opportunity or to be referred to a company hiring at the present time. Effective networking is a long term give-and-take process that puts you on the inside track in the area that interests you and establishes you in the running for any attractive position that comes up in the future. Your goal is to create a dialogue with a contact that goes beyond one phone call. You should aim to impress and develop a sufficiently good rapport with a contact for them to refer useful information to you over the long run, refer you to friends of theirs in the industry and perhaps even create a position for you. Networking should not only happen when you are actively looking for a job.
Effective networking has the following advantages: -
- There is a vast 'hidden' market of vacancies that are filled by word-of-mouth referral before they are ever advertised. You need to be talking to people in the industry to learn about and be considered for these positions. By opening a dialogue with professionals in your chosen field and following up with them regularly, you will learn about people who are leaving their position or have been promoted to a different position, others who will be expanding and hiring in the near future, new units, new areas and developments that would support your application.
- Talking to insiders reveals events and trends in the industry and specific companies that you may not otherwise have learnt.
- Even if a contact has no vacancy for you, the communication you have with him may tell you a lot about what it takes to succeed in the industry, what skills you need to focus on and develop further, who the different players are, what to emphasize in your communication with other firms and how to approach your job search in general.
Sending a mass mailing of CVs and waiting for the companies to contact you is not an optimal job search strategy. The key is in the follow-up. Plan your follow-up strategy and execute it well. Follow up by phone to make sure the relevant manager has received your CV, follow up again to ask for a meeting and follow up with notes regularly until you have received some form of a response. Make sure you have a high-impact 2-3 minute phone pitch prepared that describes your background, interests and what you have to contribute to this particular company. Keep the dialogue open by sending relevant clippings from newspapers and magazines that you think the manager would find interesting as well as information on pertinent industry seminars and events. It doesn't matter if he already knows about them - the important thing is that you do!
Poor interview skills
If you have made it to the interview stage, you probably have all the credentials, experience and skills that an employer is looking for. Do not jeopardize your chances by short-selling yourself at this stage or otherwise misrepresenting yourself or blundering.
Some common interview mistakes include:
- Lack of preparation. Research the company thoroughly before the interview and have your CV memorized inside out.
- Not having answers to common interview questions. Read a good book on interviewing to know what to expect, get into the mood and perfect your answers.
- Lack of enthusiasm. Try not to sound jaded or tired even if you have been in the industry for decades and the person interviewing you is younger than yourself. Try to sound excited about the company and the position. Enthusiasm is infectious and managers hope that a candidate's positive energy will communicate itself to the whole team. Moreover, employers are looking for someone who can be managed and given directions so you need to communicate that you are such a person not someone who has a problem with criticism and authority.
- Negative answers. Always respond to questions about your weaknesses with a commentary on your strengths. The answer to "Have you done 'AB' before?" is not "No". It is "I have done 'YZ' in such and such a w ay". The answer to "What are your weaknesses" is "I am too ambitious, workaholic, too dedicated, always looking to take on new projects with increased responsibilities" etc. Everyone has weaknesses and the interview is not the time to showcase them.
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