Mistakes in a Job Search are common. The big
question is how big was the mistake and can you
recover from it. The larger question is how can
someone know where the snakes are so you don't
get bit while trying to do everything right. And
this list will continued to expand and expand ...
- SYSTEMATIC APPROACH
If you are not using a systematic approach to conducting a job search, you may be wasting
Solution: Create a plan, build up contact lists including names, company, job title, phone number,
e-mail address, dates of contacts, contacts they provided you, if they were good.
Create an objective sheet for handouts to contacts to you meet with. Include your name
with contact information but also include:
- a list of companies with job titles and dates you worked there
- list of academics
- list of awards and major successes
- companies you are targeting
- maintain a binder with printed copies of all e-mails, resumes, job requirements, etc.
should you be off-line or unable to access your computer, you have all the info.
- names of any recruiters, their company, address, office and cell phone numbers.
- list of people you know at the companies you have allied to and contact info
- tracking of contacts made with those people, date, time, what was discussed/shared
- pending deadlines, their target dates
Why?: These are people you may need to reach out to as being in your industry, people you
know well, people who offered help. You need to know how to contact them by any
means. You need to know who they suggested you talk to and if those contacts got any
results or they brushed you off. No reason to try to drink from a dry well.
- SEEKING OUT OR ESTABLISHING AND WORKING WITH A BOARD OF ADVISORS
As a Chief Executive Officer of a company is responsible to a Board of Directors, create a Board of Advisers to help guide you AND hold you accountable for achieving objectives to keep your job search on track and on focus.
Solution: Enlist people who you hold in high value to review your plans, provide feedback and most
to hold you accountable for achieving objectives and making good use of your time.
Why? It is very easy to become distracted by things that are lower priorities simply to get out
of doing a job search. Face it, many would prefer a root canal to a job search. When you
are unemployed time is money and time is not your friend. Asking others to help guide
you and offer their counsel and advise is a powerful thing to have. These are the people
you WANT to give you "Tough Love" to help drive you to achieve your goals and keep
moving forward in a professional productive manner.
- DEALING WITH SPOUSE QUESTIONS
Unemployment is very stressful to be prepared to answer questions of your spouse or close other on what you are doing, why, and what has resulted from that activity.
Solution: Discuss your plan and daily activities with your significant other and if needed, older
children to help calm their concerns and allow you to focus on the needs and matters
Why? These are people you need emotional support from and constructive ideas to keep you
going. Wars on multiple fronts and at home are destructive. Be prepared to discuss you
plan, what you did that day and will be doing over the next week to two weeks. When
your significant other sees you have a credible plan they have reason to calm down. Do
not "sugar coat" reality as this will destroy your credibility and compound problems.
- DEALING WITH DEPRESSION
Depression is part of the program in career transition. It is easier to take the "NO!" responses more
than people you reach out to or positions you apply to that never respond at all. It is perfectly acceptable to reach out to others to solicit their ideas or find ways to get your emotions together and continue moving forward.
Solution: a) Accept the fact you will go through potentially many periods of depression and that
you can survive depression and potentially come out a stronger person from it.
b) Talk to others who are in or went through transition about things they did to rebuild
their confidence and energy that depression damages.
c) Talk to moderators on ideas they may have.
d) Depression is an emotional state many go through at many times in their life yet
they live through it and come out stronger. Depression can come from any number
of events such as the death of a close friend or family member, major destructive
event such as a home burning down or destroyed by a tornado or hurricane.
Why? A career transition is like a ride on a roller coaster. There are deep dips that will bring
you emotionally down and steep rides to the top that will excite you and reinforce you
are someone of value. You had one or more jobs before and if you keep up your skills
and enjoy your work, you will again be working most often for a better company.
- CORE RESUME MISTAKES
1) Branding is important as employers look for the label you apply to yourself; it is often a
keyword to find qualified people for the given job. Creating a brand without the experience,
training and skills to back it up is foolish. Show what you are now not what you want to grow
up to be one day.
2) Every sentence should show high employer value and impact using minimal words. No fluff, just
solid real stuff. Don't discuss duties, discuss accomplishments that made a positive impact.
3) Careless mistakes in formatting, spelling, correct word use, etc. Resumes have been reviewed
where the person misspelled their own last name three times. Spell Check is free; have a friend
who knows Resumes well review it for both hidden errors and word phrasing that may send an
image you did not intend.
4) Recruiter could not open your Resume. Stick with Microsoft Word but avoid the newest releases
as companies may not have upgraded to that yet and independent Recruiters may not be willing
to spend the money now.
5) You missed the deadline. This sends a message to recruiters that is not positive about you.
6) Your Resume is a "one size fits all" document ... you're spamming every job you can find.
Resumes must be tailored to the job description for the posted job. Anything else is
7) Submitting to the "Black Hole of Recruitment" that may end up in some antiquated and maybe
obsolete computer system hoping to be found when the system may not be reliable for much
more than consuming electricity and limited the number of candidates, good or bad.
Voice systems for submitting Resumes are no better than the "Black Hole of Recruitment".
8) Distractions from your job search to do other activities or projects like vacation or home repairs.
This is a full time position to find you full time job. It will take time so view this NOT as a sprint
but as a marathon.
9) Neglecting or not doing a LinkedIn Profile that will get attention. Most recruiters use LinkedIn as
it has a large database of potential candidates, allows considerable detail and other informative
information to be presented and is extremely fast to find the requirements needed for the job
they are trying to fill.
10) Over 45? Age discrimination begins around 50.
- Do NOT list how many years experience you have. They will add 25 or so to guestimate age.
Illegal - absolutely. Evidence to meet Court Standards - only if someone spills the beans.
11) Giving back was very popular around 2008 ... for some companies not any more.
This distracts you from working overtime thus making you less valuable of an employee.
Put such volunteer work as a low or no profile activity.
Solution: Sometimes someone else can spot these areas faster.
Why? There may be hundreds of Resumes to be reviewed. No one wants to read long Resumes
or boring Resumes. Your Resume should not become a substitute for sleeping pills. No
wants to read Resumes that are loaded with spelling errors, strange wording, almost
comedic messages, or "Hail Mary" resume distributions hoping someone will call them.
And forget about missing deadlines ... they have enough of those people on the payroll.
- NOT LEVERAGING THE CT GROUPS RESOURCES
The CT Groups and TheCTGroups.org contain a lot of knowledge through the members who are
also going through a transition and those who have been there a few times including the Moderators.
Recruiters DO NOT WORK FOR YOU. They work for the employers unless you are paying for your
own job search which can be tens of thousands of dollars. Some recruiters will dump you like old
garbage if a stronger candidate comes to them.
Solution: Do not hesitate to talk to the others including Moderators about the challenges you are
facing. Would you want to go onto a field of play against a championship NFL football
team all by yourself? Think about your Board of Advisors. Think of talking to people in
the same line of work or industry to compare notes.
Why? a) Sharing information helps each of you avoid pitfalls which waste time, energy and
build negative emotions.
b) Having greater insight into your marketplace helps you form a stronger strategy for
both of you to land faster.
c) One member would share jobs they applied to knowing that only one would get the
job but if it was not him, let it be someone who learned of the job from him so he
now has a new friend for life PLUS an inside champion to help him get in there.
- JUMPING AT OPPORTUNITIES BASED ON DESPERATION
Money, insurance, mortgages, rent, loan payments, hungry and/or sick children or spouse or patents and needed emotional stability and can drive people into desperation quickly. You must
always insure the jobs you apply for are within your experience and skills and not use the old
"machine gun" approach to submitting resumes in hoping on Resume will get you something.
When multiple opportunities are before you under active consideration be careful you do NOT
abandon or neglect anything that is "in flight". Always be available to the company or recruiters.
Solution: Take inventory of your anticipated expenses, expected income from all sources,
and available cash or cash equivalents you have in reserve. Last source of cash you
tough should be any retirement account as this has long term negative impacts.
Target opportunities that are within reasonable reach of your skills and experience.
To do otherwise wastes time which leaves more expenses you're paying without any
offsetting income, and it puts a big dent into your ego/mojo. If you're talking to any
company that is not showing you real interest, you're not in the right place!
Why? a) put you into a job sooner but at a lower pay, less benefits and raise flags for future
b) cause you to miss out on the better positions you were qualified for.
c) Never stop looking until you have a signed offer letter you can accept, and even
then companies can and have cancelled this leaving the job seeker back in the cold
d) Never close the door on your job search until you feel comfortable in your new job,
that you believe, in your heart of hearts, that you are where you really want to be.
Meanwhile keep looking, keep applying, keep talking as you never know what can
suddenly "go South" and leave you scrambling to rekindle potential offers you had.
- NOT PLANNING FOR INTERVIEWS
Being in a job interview you have not prepared for is just real basic STUPID! DO NOT DO IT!
You are fooling yourself, wasting your time, wasting their time and may be Black Listed!
Black Listed is a list of people, for whatever reason, have been labeled not suitable for consideration
now or potentially forever. They will never tell you that you were blacked or for what reason or who
placed you there. Call Human Resources and you can spend the rest of your life being rerouted to people within Human Resources all in an effort to get you to simply go away and give it up. And
they are often very good at this game.
Interviews are generally one of two general types: Screening, Formal and Formal with Meal
The Screening Interview is often by telephone lasting about 30 minutes to validate information you provided on your Resume and sometimes validate information not indicated on your Resume that is required for the position. This is often conducted by a representative from Human Resources.
The Formal Interview is often in a face-to-face setting with you and one or more interviewers. The use of video conferencing between company sites (with you at one of them) or using tools like Skype on a laptop are growing in popularity as costs can be driven down.
TheFormal with Meal Interview beings into play your social graces for table manners and others.
Understand you are NOT there for a free meal. Plan to eat extra so you won't be starving as you
will spend most of your time at the table talking, not eating. Take a cram course on the types of
silverwear: what is use for what, where to put your spoon after adding sugar or cream to a drink, knowing which fork is for what, where to place the knife once you have used it, what plate is used
for what, how to signal you are done eating, that you do not want any coffee, etc. And do not speak with food in your mouth as someone may test you on this.
For Skype interviews there are factors you need to prepare for that can hurt your interview.
Perhaps the most important is insure you have it on your computer, it is of current release and you can test with a friend to insure it actually works. Additional setup factors for consideration are:
1. PICTURE & A professional business picture is best. User Names should be
USER NAME clear and free from any slag, hype or "local names" you may be
known by. This is for the professional word; be professional.
2. TEST SKYPE Connect with a friend who can spot any potential problems. Best
to discover it now than going into panic mode just before the
3. NOISE FACTORS Dogs barking, garbage collection trucks, jackhammers doing
road repair, door bells ringing, televisions and radios, a voice in
the background, other pet noises are all factors you want to
eliminate as they distract the interviewers which hurts you.
4. POOR LIGHTING Select a room with good curtains to minimize outside light, and
position a light in front of you between you and the laptop, and
potentially one on each side of you and one below you. This is to
eliminate shadows. Using your videoconferencing tool, move the
lights around until you remove all or most of the shadows.
5. FACE ON SCREEN Check the positioning of the laptop and camera position versus
your image position in the screen. Do not cut off the top of your
head or miss your shoulders. Can you look at adjusting the angle
or positioning of the camera by tilting the laptop lid, moving back
or forward the laptop, or moving yourself back or forward.
If you need minor cosmetics to look better on camera, consider
doing it as long as it is not readily noticeable.
6. SAMPLE RECORDING Check your microphone to insure it is working and at what level you
sound the best at. Also note how high your need needs to be at as
most laptops have a camera built into the lid near the top which
could lead to interviewers looking up your nostrils.
7. WALL COVERINGS Where possible do not have anything in view behind you as this can
create a distraction for the interviewers. A simple white or pastel
colored wall works best.
8. SUPPORT ITEMS You can keep materials around your laptop to glance down to help
respond to questions. If you need to start reading from one this will
be evident and could hurt your interview. These should be for quick
reference as they are asking about your life and skills which is on
your Resume and you should know these stories very well.
Notify the interviewer(s) should storms be anticipated in your area during the interview. This could
impact your performance and, with a power or network outage, may prevent the interview.
And what are the Top 13 things that will kill your interview?
1. Indications of no Integrity or general Dishonesty
3. Late and/or Unprepared
4. Inappropriate Attire
5. Odors (tobacco smoke, heavy perfumes or colognes, others)
6. Inappropriate/Unprofessional Attitude
7. Incomplete or Evasive Answers/Responses
8. Avoiding eye contact
9. Body Language not showing confidence, honesty or passion
10. Not being articulate; such as "Like", "um", "this is so not like" and other words.
11. Listen to the entire question before responding or saying anything.
12. Your public demeanor: manners, tone voice, courtesies in public
13. Stay on topic: answer the question then stop talking
- INADEQUATELY PREPARED FOR INTERVIEWS
This includes screening interviews and subsequent interviews. This is where they learn far more
than what is on your resume: your confidence, how well you communicate with others, your ability
to respond to questions in a solid and knowledgeable manner. These are very important for the
screening interview as you are selling yourself generally to a Human Resources person who may
have little knowledge of what you do or your true skills. You are selling yourself in a screening
interview against the Job Description plus any value added items you can bring up.
Solution: Do your research on the company: what's in the news, how well are they doing, where
are their major offices, what are the major products and/or services, etc. Have you
gotten any inside information about the problem they are trying to solve with this
position? Playing your skills to their problem is a strong way to interview.
Why? a) Companies hire because they have a problem and need a person/persons to help
fix the problem(s). If you know the problem you know what they need to hear!
b) Hiring Managers fear the "bad hire" ... someone who turns out to be a dud, someone
who has to be motivated to do their work, someone who doesn't know what they said
they knew, someone who leaves after a few months. Hiring is an expensive activity
and companies don't like spending money twice for the same thing!
c) Have you put together a list of questions that:
1) show you have interest in the company from your research?
2) reflect seeking more information into the role you are being considered for?
3) are interested in their timeline for reaching their final candidate?
4) how communications will be made to the candidates during the process?
d) General mistakes often observed:
a) Clothing and/or footwear inappropriate for a business meeting
b) Wrinkled, worn or stained clothing without an explanation
c) Odors of alcohol, tobacco, excessive perfume or cologne, others
d) Body odors
e) Footwear inappropriate and/or not shined
f) Attitude not business focused; too relaxed or casual
g) Electronics not turned off for the meeting
h) Food on their face or clothing
i) Lacking extra copies of their Resume or other relevant materials
j) Failed to reconfirm appointment, date, time and location with directions
k) Failed to follow directions for parking
l) Lack of respect or simple courtesy to other staff not involved in interview
m) Using a product of their direct competitor
n) Evasive or incomplete answers to questions
o) Cannot address or explain items in their Resume
p) Uncombed/brushed/unstyled hair
- REPETITIOUSLY REPEATING THE SAME MISTAKE OVER AND OVER AGAIN
Some have a real problem understanding this message as they don't learn from lessons given to
them. It's good to learn from your mistakes. It's better to learn from mistakes of others!
Solution: Evaluate your success and non-success every two weeks and find what's not working.
If it is not working, determine if this is a seasonal period (like Summer and around the
Christmas time) when companies just don't hire? Is it the material you are sending out?
Is your Resume holding you back? If you are getting Interviews, is your only one the
Why? a) If it's broken it is not going to magically fix itself. Seek assistance to see if others
can spot potential reasons for your situation.
b) Seasonal periods can be peaks or deep valleys. Company situations can also be a big
distraction for those in the hiring process. Remember, you are on THEIR TIMELINE and
they are NOT ON YOUR TIMELINE. But do not hesitate to contact them every 2 to 3
weeks to reaffirm the interest and intent to fill the position still exists and if there is a
new timeline they are working against. This shows your interest, your professionalism,
and you're "hangin' in there with them" on something they most likely would have been
completed by now.
- LACK OF FOLLOW-UP AFTER INTERVIEWS
This shows continued interest in the company and that you are still interested and have not taken a
positions with another company and not notified them. Ask for information, see if they need any
additional information from you (such as references), would be interested in your "Brag Book"?
Solution: Shows continued interest and allows you to bring present additional reasons to hire you.
- INEFFECTIVE NETWORKING
Networking is one of the most effective way to get a good job as it can open doors for you that
may otherwise be closed and potentially can bring you added credibility to your submission.
Solution: Everyone knows somebody who knows somebody you need to meet.
Start networking and tie into this very power vehicle to find a good job.
Why? a) No one has unlimited money to waste during their job search. Time IS Money.
b) Most jobs are not posted anywhere and for good reasons and here are some of them?
c) Advertising costs money and generates hundreds of resumes which are unqualified.
It costs money to dive through those to find the ones of interest and you may still
miss out on the best candidate through this process or they become a bad hire.
d) Some advertised positions are not going to be filled by someone from outside the
company. The company won't tell you that, you just have to have insight into how
they work. If you are an exceptional candidate you might succeed, however most
candidates see themselves as exceptional candidates.
e) Hiring Freezes don't always mean no one will be hired. Exceptional people who come
in through networking contacts have been hired during global employment freezes
because it makes business sense to hire them for their special skills.
f) Pretend you are a hiring manager and a Vice-President brings you a resume and
suggests you may want to interview this person. Would you ignore the request?
g) If someone is recommending you from within the company and they have a good
reputation as an employee, that reputation is bestowed upon you. We keep company
with people like ourselves. This reduces risks of a bad hire to the hiring manager.
h) Some companies pay a "bounty" to employees who recommend someone who is hired
and remains on the payroll from between 3 to 6 months. This amount, depending on
the position, challenge in finding these skills and the company can be from $250 to
thousands of dollars.
- NO PERSONAL BRANDING TO HELP HIRING MANAGERS & RECRUITERS FIND YOU
Being invisible is great when playing "Hide and Go Seek" but this is a Job Search and you want to be as visible and enticing as possible! Companies sometimes use recruiters along with social media and local job announcements. Branding is a brief statement that tells people what you do and have done to leverage the use of keywords within the job description.
Solution: Create a Branding Statement to help readers quickly assess if you are the person they
are searching for. Put the details further in your Resume or LinkedIn Profile.
Why? a) Whether it is a Resume or LinkedIn Profile, these items are searched for by computer
looking for keywords the company has selected to find candidates. If not found the
chance of you being considered drop quickly.
b) In LinkedIn using these keywords in your Branding statement brings added value
putting you potentially higher in the list to be found and thus called or e-mailed.
c) Being found from the masses is critical to your success.
- NOT LEVERAGING ON-LINE TOOLS AND RESOURCES
There are a number of tools which are initially free to help you compare your Resume against a
job Description. On-Line tools such as LinkedIn are valuable as this is your story in a personal tone promoting yourself 24 x 7 x 365. Forget the "rule' about 2 pages on LinkedIn. Intelligently put all your gold on display loaded with rich keywords for the work you love doing and show your passion.
Solution: Many of these resources and tools are free, can be used free without any downside, or
allow you a few times free before they want money. When in a career transition you new
job title is SALES REP selling the product you should know best, YOURSELF. This is where
many people choke and need help and that's legal so do what you need to do that is
legal, ethical and moral.
Why? a) Getting help is not a violation of any US or foreign law so start doing it if you have not.
b) You can land faster and better with a quality promotion vehicle and campaign.
c) Time is not your friend and Time is Money and you're burning your money looking for
- NO COHERENT LONG-TERM STRATEGIC CAREER PLAN
Some companies are really big on this, others understand reality. Reality is in some industries, change comes quick and often forces people to change their career plans by "retooling" for the new waves like technology or regulatory changes. Another potential impact is when companies are
acquired and people are released to cut costs or from the need or desire to undertake general cost cuts. Some industries are very sensitive to economic cycles and/or product cycles which can derail career plans and directions.
Solution: If you have been impacted by factors like these, be prepared to discuss them in every
interview and include them in your Cover Letter. The Information Technology industry
lost over 1.5 million jobs in 2000 per ComputerWorld due to the Year 2000 panic and
over buying of equipment and mass reworking of major application systems. Discussing
your career or employer changes can dispel concerns about your lack of focus or ability
Why? a) Changing jobs or careers can look like you don't know what you're doing or it can
be a mixture of a changing economy, changing technologies and/or changing
ownership of a company if it did not totally cease to operate.
b) Documenting it early helps to explain situations. Companies sometimes do not
remember the transitions then went through if it did not directly impact them or the
people they managed. Providing a walk through history can shut down concerns.
c) Maybe you just don't know what you really enjoy doing and spend time trying to find
who and/or what you were. Discussing how that has been resolved will help you if
done in a Cover Letter and Screening Interview.
- POOR ATTITUDE - PESSIMISM, NEGATIVITY, FRUSTRATION DICTATE YOUR ACTIONS
No one wants to hire this person as they can impact or destroy the productivity and/or moral of those who are doing great things causing the good people to run for the doors. Enough said!
- INEFFECTIVE ENGAGEMENT WITH RECRUITERS
You are now a SALES REP no matter what your prior or hoped for job title is. You need to show yourself as a driven, energetic professional who loves their work. Those who love their work are ready to get back to work.
Solution: Be responsive to all recruiters to show you bring value to them in selling you to others.
Deliver what is asked, as soon as possible. Confirm receipt by them and if that is what
they needed to better advance your future.
Why? Whither they are a recruiter external or internal to the employer, you need to present a
polished professional "can do" who is working to help them help you. Next question?
- NO TRIAL CLOSE
In Sales, a good sales representative should always try and close an order in each meeting. You
cannot really ask the employer to "buy" into your offering as their new employee. You can try a sales technique of a trial close. Try to get them to "try" your product (which is YOU) before they
actually commit with the idea if they like the product (YOU) they will not need anything (OR ANYONE) else.
Ask the Interviewer felt your qualifications aligned with the position requirements. This gives you a chance to address the areas in which he/she feels you are not a good match. If you get vague answers this may not be your opportunity but don't automatically walk away from it because at least you beat out potentially hundreds of others to get the interview.