Common Job Search Mistakes

As a career consultant it is always a challenge for me to resist the urge to provide unsolicited career advice when I’m outside of work and see people struggling with the job hunt.  Recently a few posts came across my newsfeed that made the career consultant in me want to dive in with my job search suggestions.  And while I resisted the urge to give advice over my personal social media account, I figured I’d recap my 2 cents here:

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This is a common misconception I see with students and recent graduates; assuming quantity is more important than quality when getting a call back.

To be successful in online applications I recommend applicants:

  • Take time to customize your materials to show that you are the right person for the job.
  • Apply to positions where you meet the majority of the qualifications. (If you have a hard time tailoring your materials to the position it’s a good sign that you don’t meet the basic requirements.)
  • Don’t rely solely on job boards and company websites. Make connections at the company. If someone in the organization refers you, or is keeping an eye out for your online materials, you’re much more likely to have your materials viewed by the hiring manager.

Lesson Learned: Quality > Quantity

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While I don’t see this one too much with current students, for those currently employed, it’s always important to be mindful of what your current employer might see or hear when you’re job searching.

Here are some tips to keep your job search under the radar:

  • Avoid posting your résumé to job boards if you’re currently employed. Use the job boards for searching for positions, and then go directly to the company website to apply.
  • Turn off network notifications on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re making a lot of profile updates it can be a sign that you’re preparing to move on.
  • Avoid posting to social media that you are unhappy or looking for new opportunities. Keep this information to personal texts and phone calls.  While it’s usually a good idea to utilize your network when job searching, you want to be careful of the word getting back to your current employer. Try conducting informational interviews at your target companies instead.

Lesson Learned: Keep your job search activity hidden from your current employer

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This is one I see all the time with current students looking for internships and soon to be graduates searching for jobs; “What do you want to do?” “I’ll do anything.” While flexibility, adaptability, and open-mindedness are critical traits that we encourage in the internship or job search, being too open can work against you.  Employers want to know that you WANT to work at their company and in their position. They also want to know that you are qualified and have the relevant experience needed (see my first lesson).

Here are some tips for conducting a targeted job search:

  • Narrow down by job type, industry, company culture, and/or location. While you might not get all of your top choices, it will help you direct your search. Consider your interests, abilities, and career goals when brainstorming your options.
  • Remember that you aren’t limited by your current position. Work with our office to customize your materials to achieve your next career goal.

Lesson Learned: Employers want to be wanted

By Emily Merritt
Emily Merritt Career Consultant, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Emily Merritt