I believe that it was the Chinese philosopher Confucius who said “if you have a career that you love, then in fact you will never have to work a single day in your whole life!” But on the flip side, if you can’t do what you love, you should at least be doing something. Whether you’ve been on the job hunt for a while, or are brand new to it, there is more than likely a few practical steps that you can take in order to put yourself above the competition and improve your chances, of finding and getting that particular job or career that you want. Unfortunately, there are often a few common mistakes job seekers make when seeking employment.
1 — Your resume / CV is not professional or up to standard
It is amazing how common a mistake this is. Research has shown that potential employers initially glance at a CV for only about seven seconds, and statistics on glassdoor.com have indicated that each corporate position can attract up to two hundred and fifty individual CV’s. This is your chance to sell yourself, so make sure you don’t make any basic errors such as spelling mistakes or grammatical errors and that your CV is physically well presented.
2 — Your resume / CV is too long / too short
Following on from above, if your CV is too long it may lose the interest of employers and if it is too short it may not give enough information about you. There are professionals with 40 years of experience who have 1-page resumes. If they can get it down, why can’t you? Competition can be cut throat, so use this opportunity to sell yourself well. As a rule of thumb and idea length CV should fit onto a double sided A4 sheet.
3 —You have unexplained gaps in employment
It’s easier to get a job or career if you already have one. At first glance this may seem a bit dubious, but if you’ve been searching for a while it might be worth taking an available temporary or alternative position, rather than holding out for that one ideal job or career. It will have the advantage of removing gaps in your employment history and will also show any potential employer that you have a good work ethic and are willing to work towards your goals. While this may be showing signs of changing, employers still view gaps in employment as a potential risk.
4 — You have red flags on social media
Have you checked your social media profiles lately? You can be pretty sure that your potential employer has. If you are seeking employment your public social media platforms are pretty much equivalent to an online resume, so remove any potentially embarrassing or career damaging material. The things you post can craft a story about who you are and what you’re interested in. Always remember to control the narrative and it may vastly improve your chances of landing a job.
5 — You don’t have the required skills and experience
This is one of the most common reasons given in a rejection letter for a resume or interview. The ironic thing is that in order to gain vital experience and professional development, you need employment in that particular field in the first place. There may be practical steps that you can take here however perhaps there is a relevant online professional development course that you can take, or maybe you could do some volunteer work in your chosen field or career. These options will not only give you vital experience, but also once again show a potential employer your adaptability and work ethic. Remember that skills and experience can come from anywhere. Five years of experience can come from college organizations and internships. All experience matters.
6 — You’re not doing the research
Research your potential employers. If you are called to interview, then it is essential that you have investigated and conducted research into your potential employers. You can expect questions about this in almost any interview situation and you can be sure that your career competitors have done their homework. Composite knowledge of the company that you are applying to shows your enthusiasm and interest, whereas a lack of knowledge shows a lack of commitment.
7 — You’re not presenting yourself well at interviews
You never get a second chance to make a first impression’, and this statement is never more true than in an interview situation. Presenting yourself well and in suitable attire shows your seriousness about the position and also your social awareness. Making good eye contact, having a pleasant demeanor and answering questions with deliberation and consideration will help to reinforce this impression.
8 — You are not preparing enough for interviews
On paper you may be the outstanding candidate, but if you can’t convey this in an interview situation, despite your best efforts, then it may all be in vain. Many employment sites will give you good tips on how to prepare for interviews and of common questions and pitfalls to expect. You can also contact the potential employer to find out the interview format and duration which will give you an idea of the level of detail required.
Austin Belcak writes in his amazing article, “If you’ve been on multiple interviews, you’ve probably realized that many of the questions sound familiar. That’s because most interviews are like a Taco Bell menu: the ingredients are the same, everything’s just packaged differently.” He continues, “If you can prepare and memorize answers to those question, you can walk into almost any interview and succeed with no other preparation!”
Research shows that a majority of positions filled are in fact never advertised and are taken up through recommendations and contacts. You can increase your career chances here by regularly attending industry events and conferences in your chosen field. Employment sites like indeed.com generally offer lots of very useful tips on job hunting and networking in particular.
10 — You’re not being proactive enough
Don’t just wait around for the perfect job to fall into your lap. It’s not very likely to happen. Get out there, apply the steps above and be positive about your prospects. Your enthusiasm will come across and stand to you, and if at first you don’t succeed, then try, try again. You’ll get there in the end. As Thomas Jefferson claimed I’m a great believer in luck, and the harder I work, the luckier I am’.
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DJ Jeffries is a self-proclaimed “intrapreneur” and entrepreneur with an obsession for challenging the status quo. A graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he’s been awarded the Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Fellowship, the University Innovation Fellowship (through Stanford University) and the Richard B. Fisher Fellowship (Morgan Stanley). He is the founder and editor of http://Led2win.com , an online motivation publication, the host of the Hacking Happiness podcast, and is currently an HR Transformation Associate at Morgan Stanley.