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Job Hunting, Job Search Tips

What’s the #1 Mistake Job Seekers Are Making These Days? (pt. 3)


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Recently I asked a question on a LinkedIn discussion group: what’s the #1 mistake job seekers are making these days?

I was hoping for a few answers but was unprepared for the interest this question generated. I was gratified by the level of response and the amount of feedback I received.

While I cannot include all the responses in this document without overwhelming it, I can discuss the major points.


#5. Not researching companies

Many of my jobseekers, when asked what kind of work they are looking for, answer, “anything.” And in that vein they apply for just about anything they have the skills for, in a method I once heard called “spray and pray”—send out generic resumes to a wide group of employers en masse and pray something comes of the effort.

The most successful job search strategies start with a thorough assessment of your own skills and abilities. After that, you need to find those companies who employ people with your skill set. This takes some research but the resources are available. Your area’s employment center or local library has those resources readily accessible, often online.

Many employment specialists and career counselors say this area is often where jobseekers don’t do enough. Candidates do not understand how their skills and accomplishments align with the targeted employer’s needs. Therefore they are unable to articulate the value they bring. Finding target companies that are a match for the candidate’s skills and expertise brings far greater success than the “spray and pray” approach.

#6. Ill-prepared for interviews

When my customers tell me of an upcoming job interview, I ask them if they’d like me to do a mock interview with them or otherwise help them prepare. I’ve only had a handful of takers, and that surprises me. Scoring a job interview is an accomplishment of no small magnitude these days. The jobseeker should prepare in every way possible to make the best impression.

Many jobseekers I’ve worked with say they are already an excellent interviewer but just need the chance to get the interview. When I ask them a simple question such as, “tell me about yourself,” however, their responses prove otherwise. Researching the company and the job for which you are interviewing can give an idea of the kind of questions an employer might ask. For example: a candidate interviewing for a customer service position is sure to be asked something about how they deal with a difficult customer. Having questions and answers prepared in advance, and making notes that can help you remember important points, will help you answer efficiently.

Just having prepared answers, however, is not enough. They have to brief but thorough. A colleague I interviewed for a lead position here answered his questions in overview mode. He didn’t break down his skills and experience in terms of tasks performed, whom he served, and so on. Perhaps he assumed that, since much of his experience came through working with our agency, we already knew what he did. Consequently, although he had the skills and experience for the position, he fell short in the interview.

It is easy to say that I have excellent client relations skills, but unless I back up that assertion with concrete examples involving who, what, where, how, etc., those assertions fall flat. I cannot assume the interviewer knows the skills I have used in past experience; I cannot afford to undersell myself here. I have to be thorough, and not afraid of bragging.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.

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