Man looking at laptop computer with hand on his check, appearing to be thinking.

Don’t Make These Five Common Mistakes in Your Job Search

So many people hinder their efforts without realizing it

Man looking at laptop computer with hand on his check, appearing to be thinking.
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

“A smart man makes a mistake, learns from it, and never makes that mistake again. But a wise man finds a smart man and learns from him how to avoid the mistake altogether.” — Roy H. Williams

Assomeone who has been in the recruiting industry for the past 16 years, I feel I’m somewhat fortunate to be looking for a job while so many others need help with their job searches.

I say that because I had forgotten what it was like to actually be on the hunt, looking for a new position with a blank canvas as my backdrop. I have been very fortunate to get all of my previous jobs by the way of friends who helped me bypass the black hole of the recruiting abyss and get my resume in front of the right people for an interview.

As shared in last week’s post, the recruiting black hole is still alive and well and has gotten even blacker and “holer” than before. Therefore, one has to focus on a different set of strategies to see success in one’s job search.

In this series, I will focus on helping individuals understand how to look at their job search from a recruiter’s point of view to make sure they are putting their best foot forward and giving themselves the best shot to land the job of their dreams.

In this second entry in the series, I thought it important to share the top five things you SHOULDN’T do in your job search if you want to give yourself the best chance to take the nasty lemon of economic layoffs and turn it into some of the best-tasting lemonade you’ve ever had.

Don’t wait to start applying until January 1st

I’ve heard this from some people who were caught up in the Meta layoffs. They said they needed a “break” and would wait until January 1st to apply for roles.

Part of me understood where they were coming from, while the other side of me was silently screaming, “WTF???”

Getting let go sucks, but thinking that you’ll just wait until January 1st to start seeing what’s available seems a bit precarious.

There are many companies hiring right now — really good companies with a number of great opportunities. There is no guarantee that there will be BETTER roles come January 2023. In fact, with how unpredictable the economy has been lately, there is a good chance there might be fewer jobs.

Therefore, you shouldn’t wait in any capacity to start looking. The benefits of applying now are numerous.

As shared, the first benefit is you get a chance to put your hat in the ring for a job that is open right now and give yourself the chance to land a great role with a great company that could be gone by January of next year.

Second, you get a chance to begin practicing your interviewing skills while your experience is fresh in your mind and your head is somewhat in work mode. If you wait 30 days later to start looking, your mind might not be quite as fresh since you’ve been in chill mode since your release.

Third, if you interview for a job and receive an offer, you don’t have to take it. By interviewing and seeing what’s out there now, you give yourself the option to unequivocally know that you’re not missing out on a great role that could be exactly what you’re looking for.

If you don’t find anything that excites you, then keep looking, and maybe you will find something in January. You don’t lose anything by looking now. You only stand to gain.

Don’t apply to any and everything

As someone who had to look at numerous resumes of forklift drivers and Walmart attendants applying to software engineering roles, I can tell you very few things frustrate recruiters more than when people apply to jobs for which they are not a fit.

Instead, you should have in mind 3–5 roles for which you feel you are a good fit and focus on those titles when looking for new roles. LinkedIn does a good job of making you limit the type of roles you can say you are open to on your profile to five. This should give you a good sense of the titles of the roles to which you should apply.

This will help you greatly decrease your interview prep time since you should be applying to similar jobs requiring the same type of prep and storytelling to have an effective interview.

This will also indirectly help you by not being that person that just applies to something to apply to it and fills a recruiter’s inbox with unqualified resumes that then cause them to not be able to get to the actually qualified candidates.

The more people practice this, the easier recruiters’ jobs will be to find the right candidate quicker and more efficiently.

A good rule of thumb is to only apply to jobs where you check off 70% of the required skills. I say this because you don’t have to be a PERFECT match for a job to be able to do it. The job description is often a wish list of what a manager would like but not what they would be willing to take if they found someone who checks off the majority of what they’re looking for.

Therefore, instead of just applying to everything, compare your resume to the jobs you are applying for, and as long as you check off 70%, go for it!

Don’t only use one resume

Speaking of resumes, having more than one that represents your experience is a good practice. This is because you want to make it a no-brainer for a recruiter to see that your experience aligns directly with what they’re looking for in their role.

If all your titles have been SRE in the past, but you were doing heavy DevOps automation duties, then change your title to DevOps engineer to make it easier for the recruiter to make that connection.

You don’t need to completely revamp your resume or lie in any capacity, but if you can add experience that you know you have that isn’t on your resume or change a few titles to line up with the title of the job for which you’re applying, then do so.

The recruiter will thank you for making it easier for them to recognize it, and hopefully, you’ll receive that “Can we chat?” email shortly after applying.

Don’t just submit your resume and wait

As shared in last week’s article, just submitting your resume (regardless of how much of a match you are for a job) through an application is not generally going to be enough to land you an interview.

Therefore, you must go on the offensive with the CFC (Culture Fit Chat) Strategy to ensure that you are doing everything you can to have your resume seen and given the opportunity to tell someone at the company why you think you’re a fit and what you could bring to the table if hired.

Outside of using the CFC strategy, you should also attend Meetups and other networking events and do various trainings to keep your skills sharp.

You never know who you could meet at a networking event or training that would be willing to refer you to their company, and it’s always great to share with an interviewer that you took advantage of your “downtime” to get better at your ability to provide more value to the next company you work for.

Don’t apply to ONLY remote roles

This last one might get a few people riled up, but hear me out.

Everybody and their cousin would like to work from home to never have to worry about gas prices or battling the terrible traffic to get to the office every day. However, some great companies still have reasonable hybrid policies that give flexibility to their employees but don’t allow for a 100% remote policy.

By being willing to consider these opportunities, you are competing against fewer people who only want remote jobs and will, therefore, have a chance to have your resume stand out quicker.

Before COVID, going to the office five days per week was what we did because we had to. Now to say that we won’t even consider going to the office one day per week seems a bit foolish (and snobbish) in light of so many people looking for a job to get back on their feet and take care of their families.

I’m not saying that you should be willing to take a job that asks you to be in the office all the time, however. That’s equally ridiculous and indicative of a company that is behind the times.

However, if they are open to a hybrid policy in which you only come in 2–3 days per week, I would definitely consider it in light of everything the company has to offer.

And while I can’t promise that you won’t still be searching for that next great role come January of next year, by doing all of these things, you can feel confident knowing that you did everything in your power to give yourself a shot to make that sweet tasting lemonade as soon as possible