What You’re Doing Wrong In Your Job Search – Part I

By: Elias Cobb, Quantix Recruiting Manager

This will be the first installment in addressing some of the glaring deficiencies in so many job searches I see candidates conducting. This part will address finding the open jobs and sending in resumes.

So you’ve been looking for a new job. Maybe it’s because you’re out of work, or maybe it’s because you don’t like your current job. And you’ve had some interviews, but not as many as you’d like. What’s wrong? Well, employers ARE being very selective these days; as selective as I’ve ever seen. It’s understandable; the costs of a bad hire are very, very high, and no manager needs that on their record. Here are some tips – and yes, all of these come from actual experience (resumes and job search strategies) I have seen in my 14-year recruiting career.

1) You’re only utilizing one method to find open jobs. 

Yes, I know…everyone says networking with your peers and friends is the best way to find a job. I do agree. However, I wouldn’t have had a job for the last 14 years and the IT staffing industry wouldn’t exist if you couldn’t get a job using a recruiter or on a job board. Just don’t ONLY use job boards or recruiters. You have to do all three things, and more, to find that great job. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, I also recommend joining pertinent networking groups (both online and in-person) and calling in to companies for whom you’d like to work. There are forward-thinking companies that will make hires if they find the right person, even if a job isn’t “officially” open. One way of finding good in-person networking groups is Meetup.com. It’s not just for meeting singles or joining a book club. There are a lot of excellent job-related and skill-related meet-ups.

2) You’re sending the same old, tired resume for every job.

Your resume needs to speak to each job individually. Managers are combing through resumes, not only for grammar and spelling errors, but to make sure the skills they need are reflected on the resume. You probably can’t get every skill you have

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

Image Credit: AlleyWatch

on your “standard” resume, so make sure you look over the job description very closely, and make sure ALL OF YOUR RESUME aligns with it. That means your objective, your skills summary and your work experience section. Just adding a couple of keywords to your skills summary isn’t good enough. I also recommend a “Selected Achievements” section where you can point out some of the ways in which you have gone above and beyond or spearheaded (or participated on) a project that was high-profile or saved/earned your employer money.

3) Your resume doesn’t show the hiring manager how you will make the company more profitable and his/her job easier.

Just showing that you have all the skills the job description lists isn’t enough. You need to demonstrate why you’re the best choice within all the candidates who also have those skills. This means highlighting projects with which you saved an employer money, projects where you took initiative, ways in which you are constantly striving to better your skills, etc. This can be by taking additional classes, going for certifications, showing career growth at an employer, volunteering in a relevant field and more.  For software developers, for example, there are open source projects online that you can participate in. This shows your employer that you have a passion and drive for your job and that you take the time outside of work to hone your craft. 

4) You aren’t doing your homework.

I’ll address this as it pertains to interviews in a future post, but it also applies to finding the job openings and applying. First of all, you need to keep a close eye on the business news. There will be mentions of companies expanding, opening new offices, getting new rounds of funding, etc., and those are the companies you want to target. Don’t wait for a job posting. Look them up on the Internet and on LinkedIn and find some hiring managers and call them directly! This shows drive and initiative right from the start. Secondly, many open jobs never see the “light of day,” meaning there’s never an actual job posting on the Internet. Managers have a need, they mention it to their team, they get a referral and make a hire. If you’re looking for a job, make sure you talk with everyone you know and make sure they understand what you do and why they would want to recommend you to their boss. Additionally, many jobs go to recruiting agencies and might be on a corporate website, but are never out there for easy access. That means also cultivating a relationship with a few recruiters whom you trust. Make sure they always share the client name with you and take the time to get to know you and your skills and what kinds of jobs and companies you are targeting. And finally, so many people do all the upfront work, but then never adjust their resume to reflect the company’s business, industry or culture. This should be reflected in your resume’s objective, but also in your employment history – talk about any relevant experience you have to that particular company’s line of business or industry.

I guess the bottom line with all of these points is that too many people are simply lazy in their job search. They don’t want to do the legwork up front with networking, doing research and making calls, and they don’t want to take 30 minutes to tailor a resume to a job. So if you really want to make an impression and maximize your opportunities, don’t be lazy!

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