June 21, 2018

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Common Mistakes Job Seekers Make

Finding a job is hard work, and finding the right job is even harder work. This column has long preached the need for the human elements, the importance of motivation and desire, persistence, patience and preparation. Yet in spite of the people I meet who have these qualities in abundance, I am amazed and often appalled by how often they just seem to get in their own way, creating problems for themselves and generating rejection by targeted organizations because they simply ignore some simple rules of todayís job search road.

The first mistake is building a one-dimensional resume. Many who create their own resume or look for low cost help basically get what they pay for. Employers are looking well beyond dates, places and responsibilities. Sure, all the relevant data has to be in there, but the resume also has to describe what you accomplished as well, and how the accomplishments had impact on the department, division or company. Accomplishments within your own job itself are insufficient. You must add value beyond your job description. After all, if you are not adding value beyond your desk, why does the company need you?

It is important to understand that almost every employee adds value. The difficulty is recognizing what you do that is useful and really does help the organization. For example, if your job is document processing and you can figure out a way to eliminate a couple of steps, that may make your job easier, but if it speeds up the process and gets the product to the customer or payment to the company faster, that adds real value. My message to you is consider what you do and how that adds value and put it into the resume.

The third dimension are those organization attributes that employers value. Clear professional direction, integrity and dedication to getting the work done, good team capabilities, communications skills, fast learning ability, and many more attributes should be noted. This can be covered in an introduction or woven into the body of the resume as you describe your accomplishments. In summary, the resume has three dimensions, the data, your accomplishments with results and your attributes.

A second mistake revolves around a lack of direction and poor understanding of marketability. This problem is simple to explain, but not that easy to solve. Every unemployed job seeker would want to pursue any opportunity. Thatís understandable. People who are employed donít face exactly the same pressure. But the consequences are the same.

If you donít really take the time to define a clear direction for yourself and understand those qualities that enhance your marketability, you face two risks. The first is a failure to maximize your presentation to those firms in which the fit may be very favorable. The second is wasted efforts pursuing opportunities that simply donít fit your profile except at a broad level. People who make this mistake, often referred to as ďFishers,Ē believe volume distribution of their resume, for example on Internet job boards, generate results.

However, the reality of the job search is more complex. Hiring managers have a very specific set of criteria for their candidates. This criteria is highly specific experience and accomplishment driven and relevant to their needs. In addition, organizational cultural factors play a huge role. Consequently, it is in your interest to market yourself to organizations with the best fit for both you and the organization.

Therefore, it is essential to understand your marketability. Clearly define what you have to offer from an experience and accomplishments perspective, and what are your values and how would these values meld in an organizations culture. Then develop a strategy. Focus efforts consistent with that strategy that embraces your experience, accomplishments and organizational values to ensure you are applying for the best possible fit, or, at the very least, for an informed fit so you understand the potential pitfalls.

Those of you who have gotten interviews and been rejected certainly appreciate how dispiriting that can be. So finding the best possible fit with their needs and your attributes is critical. It is not always easy to determine this match, but good networking, finding former or current employees, or just studying public information about the company can help. The point is that time invested in target companies can be very helpful in landing that right opportunity.

Another mistakes job seekers make is pursuing a limited job search strategy and ignoring the need to invest in themselves. Direct marketing, searching ads, networking, Internet posting are part of a continuous process where you have to do everything all the time. Mailing unsolicited resumes is not enough, nor is blanketing the market with hundreds of resumes and cover letters. Some dollar investment may be required. While the average job search budget is estimated to be about 1% of the targeted minimum salary, the time and effort that someone invests in the job search is the most valuable component of success.

- Judit Price

Judit Price, MS, CDFI, IJCTC, CCM is an employment and career transition consultant and coach in private practice with over 25 years experience. She holds a Masters Degree in counseling and is a Masters level certified career guidance professional, Career Development Facilitator Instructor, International Job and Career Coach and a Certified Career Master.

Judit is a senior consultant for outplacement and career marketing firms. She counsels individuals in career direction and job search strategies from entry and mid level professionals to senior level management. She consults for various organizations in the greater Boston area, and leads workshops and training seminars for other trainers in employment, leadership and world of work related topics.

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