Navigating today’s competitive job market is not for the faint of heart. You may spend months sending out resumes or applications before you snag an interview and even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the gig. If you’ve been looking for work for a while and haven’t gotten so much as a nibble, your job hunting tactics may be part of the problem. Avoiding outmoded techniques like these can put you in a better position when you’re trying to land an offer.
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1. Using a Generic Resume and Cover Letter
Your resume and cover letter are your way of introducing yourself to a potential employer so it’s important to make a strong opening statement. If you’ve gotten into the habit of using a standard form letter or a generic-sounding resume you’re making it easier for both to get lost in the shuffle.
Targeting your resume to a specific job highlights your strengths and shows the person who’s doing the hiring that you understand what the position requires. Using engaging words to describe your qualifications and experience is a much better way to grab their attention and keep them reading. Changing up the format and trying a video resume or an online portfolio can be an innovative way to show off your skills for the right position.
Your cover letter is your opportunity to sell yourself in just a few words so you need to make them count. Address the hiring manager by name whenever possible and start off with a strong lead that lets the employer know up front why you feel you’re a good fit for the position. Maintain a professional but friendly tone and briefly highlight what makes you the best candidate. The more specific you are, the better the odds of standing out from the crowd.
2. Relying Solely on Online Applications
Once upon a time, applying for a job meant printing out paper resumes and mailing them to a company’s human resources department. Nowadays, many employers accept applications online. This is great if you’re looking to save on stamps but it’s not always the best job search tactic. The problem with online applications is that because they’re so easy to use, companies may receive hundreds or thousands of them once a job is posted. All the applications tend to look similar at first glance and the odds are stacked against you when the competition is so steep.
When you come across a job that interests you, filling out the online application is just the first step. You should also make an attempt to reach out directly to the person who’s doing the hiring. Introduce yourself and let them know that you’ve applied to the position. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response but it’s worth the effort to get your name out there.
3. Casting Your Job Hunting Net Too Narrowly
Online job boards make it easy to look for work from the comfort of home but they shouldn’t be your only source for leads. In many cases, companies will have a position open but they won’t actually advertise it, preferring instead to rely on word-of-mouth or referrals.
If there’s a particular employer you’re interested in working for, don’t make the mistake of waiting for a job to materialize. Get to know someone who works for the company or leverage an existing contact to find out if there are any opportunities available that haven’t been made public. Broadening your network and actively pursuing the job that you want ups the odds of being able to get your foot in the door.
4. Applying for Jobs En Masse
Statistically, it stands to reason that the more jobs you apply for, the better your chances of gaining employment. But that’s not always the case. Sending out dozens of resumes a day or applying for jobs that are only remotely related to your skill set can actually work against you. Unless you’re completely desperate for any type of work, you’re better off putting your time into researching jobs that you’re qualified for and targeting your search towards those types of opportunities.
Looking for employment is a full-time job in itself and you need to know how to make the best use of your time. If you’re still committing any of these job search mistakes it may be time to freshen up your approach.
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