Avoid these job search pitfalls and get more interviews!
As a principal in a national healthcare recruiting firm, I have read thousands of resumes. Some are good, some are excellent and some are just plain bad. The quality of the information you provide to prospective employers or a recruiter has a huge impact on whether or not you will get even an initial interview. If your resume is lacking, not professional or is downright awful, you will have a difficult time getting a new position, even if you are more qualified than some of the other candidates. You must spend time on your resume to make it shine: it’s the first thing an employer or recruiter is going to see and you want to make a solid first impression.
Below are some of the less obvious (but common) job search pitfalls that I see every day as a search firm owner and career consultant in the early phase of a job search (pre-interview). By following the advice below, I promise you will dramatically increase your likelihood of obtaining your dream job.
Job Search Pitfall No. 1: Not Proofing Your Resume Again and Again and Again
Possibly the most common errors I see on a resume are spelling and grammar errors. One of my pet peeves is seeing “Manger” instead of “…Manager” as in “Shift Manger” or “Department Manger”. You probably don’t need to read an article to know to fix this. However, I did a quick search of resumes I recently received. The results: 503 resumes and 28 with the misspelling “Manger”. That’s over 5% of the potential job candidates starting off on the wrong foot. Avoiding this job search pitfall is not complicated: after you are done proofing your resume 3 or 4 times for spelling mistakes and grammar issues, give it to a friend or family member to proof for you too – it’s well worth the extra effort.
Job Search Pitfall No. 2: Not Having a Plan for Your Career Search
Most people have a clear goal…to find a new job. Hopefully, you have thought about the type of position you would enjoy, the culture of the company that you would thrive in, and have taken the time to honestly evaluate your skill set and experience. However, this is only half the battle. Most people do not take the time to truly consider what achieving their goal will take. Without a plan of action, your job search will be disjointed, unfocused, and most likely not achieve the results you had hoped for.
The greater detail in your plan of action the more likely you will have success. To get beyond this job search pitfall, start by thinking about your friends, family, peers and associates that you can use as resources. Search for networking opportunities happening online and in person. Talk to a Recruiter that specializes in your industry. Find groups that you can join. Double check that you have the experience, education, and certifications required for the position you desire. Then, once you have the knowledge, make a plan! Set out a detailed strategy that will allow you to focus your search and increase your odds of achieving your goal.
Job Search Pitfall No. 3: Not Finding Hidden Job Openings
It has been estimated that up to 80% of job openings are unadvertised. I don’t know if this number is accurate (how do you quantify something that is “hidden”?). However, there certainly is a significant chunk of the job market that is unadvertised or unpublished. That means if you just depend on Monster, Indeed, and the like to find your dream job, then you are potentially missing out on 4 out of every 5 jobs available. So how do you break into the “underground job market”?
First, make networking a habit. Networking is not an activity that you begin doing only when you need something. Even when happily and gainfully employed, continue to reach out and expand your circle. Offer to help others out when you can. Forward articles that you think may interest someone. Let people know about jobs that may interest them. Meet for coffee to brainstorm ideas. Then, when it is time that you need help, you have built up genuine relationships with people that can help and WANT to help you.
Second, make sure you are easy to find. At a minimum have a strong LinkedIn profile and make sure that your Facebook page is private. Do a quick google search of your name and see what comes up. I promise your next potential employer will do this.
Third, use a Headhunter (bias alert). When a company wants to perform a confidential job search, who do you think they call? Many of the organizations we work with use us as their primary resource for filling open positions in their company. They tell us what they are looking for and trust us to narrow it down to the top 3-5 candidates for their consideration. Get on the radar of a couple recruiters that are experienced in your industry and that you feel comfortable working with (but not too many). Stay in touch regularly and let them know you are still open to hearing about opportunities.
Finally, reach out to the employers you want to work for directly. Most job seekers don’t do this, I assume, because they feel it is too forward or makes them nervous. But, if you target the right people at the right organizations they will be happy to hear from you. If this is not something you feel comfortable doing, circle back to my suggestion of working with a headhunter and let them do the dirty work.
Job Search Pitfall No. 4: Not Properly Preparing Your Resume and Cover Letter
I look at resumes most of the day and 90% are poorly prepared. Most don’t come along with a cover letter. When they do, it is often an obvious form letter they send to everyone. I never understand why most people don’t take more time to properly prepare the key piece of marketing material of themselves. Avoiding this job search pitfall is fairly easy. Simply by making sure you have a top-notch resume along with a great, customized cover letter, you will separate yourself from the clear majority of your competition. Remember, a resume has only one purpose: to get you an interview. Make sure your resume is formatted, written, and prepared in the best possible manner to move you onto the next phase in the process.
If you are not entirely sure how to prepare a resume, the one-time investment in a professional resume writer could be well worth the investment. A couple hundred bucks can be the difference between getting the interview at your top choice company or never even hearing back from them. At the very least, take the necessary time to make sure the resume and cover letter is error-free, grammatically correct, and targeted at the position you are applying for.
About the Author
Roy Munk is President and Founder of GHS Recruiting, a nationally recognized retained and contingency search firm specializing in the recruiting and retention of healthcare professionals. Since 1998, GHS Recruiting has matched thousands of highly qualified job seekers with their new employers.