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Eight Worst Mistakes Job Hunters Make
By Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com

Mistake #1: Not having their job search tools in order BEFORE looking for a job.

When is the best time to get your job search tools in order? Long before you need them, and best when you're currently employed. In fact, the smartest job hunters update their resumes regularly with each and every new responsibility and achievement they attain, as these occur (while the information is fresh and accessible), with the understanding that career management is an ongoing, ever-evolving process.

When the next opportunity presents itself you want to be ready. Just ask the thousands who have been downsized in recent years.

These tools include:

Mistake #2: Focusing too much energy on perfecting the Job Tools and not getting in the game.

As important as it is to have your tools in order, focusing too long or too hard on perfecting these tools - and not getting in the game - is self-defeating. You can have the "perfect" resume, but it won't have any value unless someone of influence gets to read it.

Take, for example, the stonecutter sharpening his axe, in anticipation of turning a piece of granite into a work of art. Each day he sharpens his axe. Each day the granite waits. Get your job tools ready - but then get in the game!

Mistake #3: Networking only when the job hunter needs something.

You've probably heard the old adage, "It's not what you know, but who you know." Well, that's changed. Today it's "Who you know, what you know, and how often you put the two together."

Job hunters who only think about networking when they need something are making a huge mistake. If you're not a contributing partner, forget about it. Your network contacts may be willing to help you the first time, but they will quickly lose their enthusiasm.

Take for example that friend.  You know, that friend who only seems to call or come around when he or she needs something? That friend who appears and disappears as their needs warrant? We all have one or two of those types of "friends" or colleagues. Where on your list of daily priorities does this person fit? If you want your network of contacts to really go to bat for you, then you need to be someone worthy of the effort. Networking is an ongoing process of give and take. What you get out of it is directly influenced by what you put into it.

Your network includes everyone you know and everyone you come in contact with, including: friends, family, colleagues, coworkers, clients, employers, neighbors, community professionals, professional association members... and so on.

Mistake #4: Focusing on what the job hunter WANTS, rather than on what he or she has to OFFER.

When you're job hunting, it's an undeniable fact that you're selling and marketing a product (you) to a targeted market (potential employer).

Have you ever purchased a product on the premise of how it will benefit the seller?

Imagine, for example, someone selling vacuum cleaners at your local vacuum cleaner store. Instead of the salesperson telling you all the benefits of the vacuum cleaner, how it will do all that you hope and need it to do, he or she tells you instead, "I really need you to buy this vacuum cleaner. If I don't make my quota this month, my boss might fire me. It's really been a slow month. Besides, I have my eye on this new car and if you buy this vacuum cleaner I might be able to afford the down-payment."

A potential employer wants to know what you bring to the table, why hiring you will benefit him/her and the company. He or she wants to know how you're going to make a valuable contribution - and hopefully, immediately. What you hope to gain from the experience is only of interest - again - in how that interest will benefit the employer (needs income, enjoys the specific work involved, is looking forward to being a contributing member = potential longevity and employee commitment).

Mistake #5: Being less than truthful, or fabricating titles, responsibilities, achievements or accomplishments.

Simply put, if you don't have enough honest achievements to boast about in your current or last position, then: 1) find a better position where you can make a real contribution, and/or 2) work harder to be an exemplary employee.

Or, you may just need a outstanding resume writer to help you recognize your contributions J.

There is no job on earth where you can't make a positive difference. Sure, there are jobs that offer limited opportunity, there are employers who like the status quo and don't appreciate change or initiative, and there are managers who will take credit for their staff's contributions, but the truth remains that if you choose to be a great employee you will be one.

Lying or fabricating the truth is deadly. See #8 of the "Eight Worst Resume Mistakes" for a great example. When interviewing, focus on your contributions and be ready to provide real world examples. Interview Questions Quiz.

Mistake #6: Quitting their current job before securing a new position.

Potential employers view employed candidates as having greater hiring value.

Unemployed candidates often make job decisions based on an immediate need (income relief, etc.), rather than on whether the potential position fits well with their true skills, current career goals, or long-term career plans.

If at all possible, begin your job search before losing or resigning from your current position.

Mistake #7: Negotiating poorly, too soon or not at all.

"How much does this position pay?" "What are the employee benefits?" "How much vacation time can I expect?" should be the last questions you ask a potential employer. Refer to #4 of this article for the first reason why. But not negotiating salary effectively can be just as detrimental.

Aside from keeping the focus of this negotiation on what you have to offer, rather than what you're hoping to secure, you need a solid understanding of the current pay scale for the type of position, industry, and location you're targeting. You also need a clear understanding of the type of money you need and deserve. Armed with this information, your next job is to get the potential employer or hiring manager to reveal what he or she has budgeted for the position. See more on salary negotiation, salary requirements and salary history.

For some job hunters, talking about salary is uncomfortable. Don't let the discomfort cause you to undersell yourself or settle for less than you deserve. Over-inflating your expectations can equally put you out of the game.

Mistake #8: Not following up.

Follow-up falls under a variety of categories, including:

  • Following on resumes submitted that have received no response (one to two weeks).

  • Following up with recruiters or headhunters.

  • Following up each and every interview with a thank you letter (within 24 hours of the interview) - and including all involved in the process. This means that if two people were involved in interviewing you for a single position, each interviewer receives his or her own personalized "thank you."

  • Following up with each and every referral or reference with a thank you letter (immediately upon referral or agreement to act as a reference - and later with an update). Lunch is a nice alternative.

  • Following up with each and every contact on your network list who went to bat for you (immediately - and later with an update).

  • Following up plans to resign with a formal resignation letter - with an effective date of resignation (usually two weeks notice).

Should I Hire a Professional Resume Writer?  /  1st-Writer.com Services

See more articles on job hunting

Good luck in your job search! Sue Campbell, 1st-Writer.com - over 18 years experience helping clients achieve their career and business goals. Feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have. I'll be glad to help!


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This page last updated: 02/02/2012