Today we welcome Sarah Landrum, founder of Punched Clocks, to All Groan Up with this informative post. Enjoy!
Searching for a job can be a nerve-wracking experience.
When you have to wait weeks — or even months — for potential employers to respond to your application, it can do a number on your self-confidence. You start to think things like “Why isn’t anyone calling me? Am I not good enough? Should I just throw in the towel and go on welfare?”
No, you don’t need to do that.
What you need to do is take a long, hard look at how you’re going about your job search and check whether you’re committing the following mistakes that turn off potential employers. Then use our tips to up your job search mojo.
10 Mistakes Twenty-Somethings Make in Their Job Search (and How to Fix Them)
1. Treating the Job Search As a Numbers Game
Do you have a “quantity over quality” approach to job hunting? If you’re used to sending out, say, 50 applications a week, try cutting it down to a couple per day. This will give you more leeway to polish your resume for common mistakes like typos, misspellings and grammatical errors.
Also, instead of applying for every job that looks good, try to dig deeper into the company advertising the job. Look up reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Yelp, or join forums on Facebook and Reddit. By doing this, you can make better decisions about what companies to apply for, tailor your resume accordingly, and increase your chances of getting positive responses.
2. Relying Only on the Internet for Job Leads
The Internet may be a good source of jobs, but it’s not the only source. In fact, you’ll probably get better leads from your personal network, for a number of reasons.
First, those leads usually fly under the radar, so you won’t have much competition for them. Second, you don’t need to do a lot of guesswork regarding duties/benefits/company culture, because you can ask someone you trust about them. Third, most companies offer incentives for referrals, so both of you have something to gain if you’re hired.
3. Forgetting the Cover Letter
Even if a job ad doesn’t explicitly ask for it, it won’t hurt to include a cover letter in your application. A cover letter can convince a recruiter to give you a second look — as long as it’s well-written. And while we’re on the subject…
4. Repeating the Resume in the Cover Letter
Your cover letter is to your resume what a trailer is to a movie. It should highlight your best qualities, but not to the point that a recruiter won’t read your resume, because you’ve already “spoiled” everything in the cover letter. Top off your highlights with a phrase such, “Please see my resume for more details,” and include a call to action (“Feel free to call me at this number”).
5. Including an “Objective” in the Resume
Objective statements are redundant, to be honest. Recruiters know perfectly well that you’re looking for a job “to sharpen your skills in this and that”, so there’s no need to spell it out for them. Let your cover letter and resume do the “talking” for you.
6. Writing About Vague Skills/Experience/Qualities
Don’t just copy the job description under each item in the “experience” section. You’ll boost your chances of jolting a tired recruiter awake with “increased production by 500 percent”, as opposed to “handled day-to-day production”. Use strong verbs, avoid jargon and highlight concrete achievements.
7. Writing Irrelevant Information
You’ve probably heard about how you should “tailor” your resume every time you apply. One way to do that is to include only the information relevant to the particular job. For example, if you’re gunning for a position at a non-profit, there’s no need to write “knitting” in the hobbies section. On the other hand, if you have experience using social media for fundraising, you’d better include it.
There are exceptions, of course. If leaving out your first/second job means leaving a humongous gap in your resume, it’s better to keep it in. You don’t want to have to explain the gap to an interviewer later — and that’s assuming you get an interview at all.
8. Lying/Exaggerating in the Resume
Highlighting your strengths isn’t the same as exaggerating them. For example, if you’re going to mention that you know Japanese, you’d better be fluent in it. Otherwise, you’ll be in a very awkward position if you’re asked to converse with a native speaker, and it turns out that the only word you know is “konnichiwa (hello)”.
9. Being Too Cocky/Too Timid During the Interview
You don’t want to shake like a leaf throughout the interview. But you don’t want to get too close and personal with your interviewer, either. Either way, the other person’s going to feel uncomfortable about you.
Give your interviewers the impression that you’re a confident and competent person. Shake their hands firmly, make eye contact while talking, and answer the questions as truthfully and tactfully as you can. Don’t worry about “screwing up” the interview; instead, think about how you’ll pass it with flying colors.
10. Forgetting to Send a “Thank You” Note to the Interviewer
Whether you’re feeling positive about the interview or not, make sure to send a “thank you” note to the interviewer within 48 hours. It’s not just being polite; it’s also letting the interviewer know about your genuine interest in the position.
Apart from the usual common sense advice (“avoid typos in your resume,” “don’t show up for an interview in your pajamas”), the tips above will boost your chances of getting hired by your dream company. Put them to work right now, and see your (future) employers’ response rates improve.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, where she shares advice on finding career happiness and success. For more from Sarah, follow her on Twitter @SarahLandrum and subscribe to her newsletter.