Ever had a really great interview or found a job posting that seemed like an absolute perfect match? Then, after landing the interview, you may figured you were a shoe-in for the position. So you sat back and waited for the offer letter to come through.
But nothing ever came.
There are currently 6.7 million job seekers in the U.S. and, although job prospects are getting better, the reality remains that there are still a number of qualified candidates looking for jobs in a limited job market. The position you were perfect for likely had at least 20 other perfect candidates apply for the job as well. The bottom line? In order to be successful in your job search, you just can’t afford any slip-ups.
So, if you want to land your next job, stop taking part in these job search tactics immediately:
Proceed your job search based on fear
If you’re looking for your first job out of college, or a job to replace one you just lost, it can be very easy to go into panic mode. Although unemployment numbers have steadied recently, when you’re looking for a job, each hour you don’t hear back from a promising lead can feel like an eternity.
As you’re waiting for ‘eternity’ to end, it’s easy to begin to panic. Your body immediately goes into survival mode and you experience the “flight or fight” impulse. This stops you from thinking objectively and leads to more rash decisions and bad job search outcomes.
What you should do: If you realize you’ve started to enter panic mode, take a breath, close your eyes, clear your mind, and get your focus back on what you started out doing: landing a job. Next, update your resume and cater it to the positions you are applying. Then, utilize all the available job search options, including checking on your network through LinkedIn. If you see one of your connections works at a company that you’re applying to, ask them if they can make an introduction. This will significantly increase your chances of getting the interview.
Once you are armed with knowledge, a support system and the appropriate materials to market yourself to potential employers, your “fight or flight” impulse will subside. With this knowledge and preparation, you can overcome the fear and get hired.
Skip the follow-up
You were not only able to get your foot in the door, but you also nailed the interview. Good for you. Now what? While it is a huge deal to get your foot in the door and have a great interview, this isn’t where the job “courting” process stops. Following up not only shows you are truly interested in the position, but it also shows you have the ability to follow through with work.
What you should do: You need to continue to show your enthusiasm for the position by immediately sending a handwritten thank you note (yes, these still exist!) after the interview. You should also send a more thorough follow-up email to include memorable parts of the conversation, reasons you’re excited to work for the company, or areas where you think you would create value within the position after having heard more about it.
If you’re wondering whether it’s really necessary to send two follow-up notes, it is good to consider the industry in which you are applying. According to a CareerBuilder survey, the bulk of IT hiring managers say they prefer email thank you notes more than any other industry surveyed, while the majority of those in the financial services say it’s not preferred, but still okay.
Perhaps you could consider trying something creative if it is makes sense. For instance, tie in your thank you note with an article that pertains to a conversation you had during your interview. This will show you were really paying attention and you are up-to-date on what’s happening in the industry, without feeling too pushy or invasive.
Display a poor or negative online presence
With social networking sites at our fingertips 24/7, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain the professional/personal line online. However, make no mistake about it: employers will look at your social presence. And if you aren’t representing yourself professionally online, how can you expect them to trust you to represent their company? You can bet inappropriate comments, postings, and conversations online will be a detriment to landing a job.
What you should do: Even before you begin the application process, you need to check your online image. Do a quick Google search of your name and see what comes up. Make sure you are not associated with anything that may make the organization question your professionalism or ability to perform. If there are undesirable images, conversations, or things you are tagged in, take them down or turn them to private.
Moving forward, always err on the side of caution. If you really want to post photos from the fun weekend you had, dedicate one channel to sharing those types of things and then set your profile to private so only your close friends can see them.
Once you’ve cleaned up your channels, include the social media links on your resume or portfolio you want the employer to check out. This way the interviewer knows where to look and you can be sure they don’t find the wrong person. This way you can use your savvy social media knowledge and positive online presence to your advantage.
Provide unreliable references
While it can be very powerful to provide references, this can also be a detriment to one of the final steps in getting the job. Ensure your references are going to be able to speak highly of you and reflect on some of your biggest accomplishments. If you include people who can’t speak to your work experience, they should be able to describe your character.
If your references can’t do any of these things, they could actually hurt your chances of getting the job. Keep in mind the employer is taking time to call each of the contacts you’ve provided to them. If they do this and they are ultimately left with no satisfying impressions of your skills and character, it can be very frustrating.
What you should do: Always tell your references they could be contacted by a potential employer on your behalf and explain what position and company it will be in regards to. When you’re talking to them, discuss some of the accomplishments or points you highlighted in the interview or on your resume and let them know a little about the organization. This will help your references be prepared no matter what the organization asks them and these professional and personal connections will reflect very positively on you.
Use out of date techniques on your cover letter
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am a job candidate desperately trying to land a job with your company, and based on my stellar research skills and obvious commitment to the company (after all, I found your name…oh wait…), I believe I would be a great fit for the position.
Ok, this may be a bit excessive, but if you turn in a cover letter not addressed to anyone, not only are you displaying your lack of understanding of the times by including “Sir and Madam,” but you are also showing you aren’t able or willing to take the time to actually find the hiring manager’s name. In today’s world, finding a name is usually fairly simple, so if you aren’t willing to do that, what else might you not be willing to do once employed?
What you should do: Stay away from “old-school” cover letter language and ambiguity. If you can’t come up with a name for the letter through an online search, pick up the phone and call the organization and ask for the name of the hiring manager. Once you know the name of the person, you can also customize the letter slightly to highlight some things you might have in common with them, including your alma mater, hobbies, or previous employers.
If this sounds like a little too much work and you’re considering ditching the cover letter altogether, think twice. According to Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, “employers not only expect thank you notes, but cover letters as well. Approximately one-third of hiring managers say a lack of cover letter will likely result in them not considering a candidate for their open position.” So, you’re welcome to submit your resume without your cover letter…and watch it be lobbed into the black hole of resume submissions.
Blindly apply to job postings
With thousands of job postings listed across hundreds of career sites, it is tempting to spend a few hours posting your resume to anything with a few keyword matches and call it a day. The problem is this eventually becomes a big waste of your time. When you begin submitting that many resumes, keeping up with all the companies you applied to — maybe multiple positions within the same company — can be very difficult to keep straight. And how are you supposed to truly know the requirements of each job?
What you should do: Finding a job is very similar to dating. You need to take the time to get to know the organization, the hiring manager, and the requirements of the position. Do your research: check out the company’s website, do a general Google search of the company, and take a look at the employees on LinkedIn.
Then, ask yourself things like, “do I want the same things they do?” or “will their culture suit my preferences?” Quality over quantity in this case will give you a much better chance to get to the finish line. And the fact of the matter is that they aren’t going to hire you without doing thorough research on their end, so why should you accept the position without doing yours?
What other job search tactics have you tried or observed that should be formally put to rest?
About the Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president ofCome Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.