The Top 5 Traps Job Seekers Fall into During Their Search
If you’re job hunting, it’s important to avoid falling into traps that can sabotage your efforts. Here are five common pitfalls job seekers fall into—and how to avoid them.
Trap #1: Applying to Jobs You’re Not Qualified For
It can be tempting to apply for jobs you’re not 100% qualified for, especially if you’re getting discouraged after applying to several positions with no bites. While you don’t have to “check every box,” resist the urge to throw your hat in every ring. Applying for jobs you’re not qualified for is a waste of time and energy—two things you can’t afford to waste when job hunting. Plus, if you get an interview, chances are good that they’ll figure out quickly that you’re not qualified, and you’ll be back at square one. So, don’t cast too wide a net; only apply for jobs where your skills and goals are a good fit. Aim to check off at least 80% of the requirements and tip the scales in your favor by meeting some of the preferred qualifications.
Trap #2: Not Tailoring Your Resume and Cover Letter to the Opportunity
When applying for multiple jobs, it can be tempting to mass-produce your resume and cover letter without tailoring them to each specific position. But trust us, taking the time to focus your message and presentation will pay off in the long run. A generic resume and cover letter convey that you can’t be bothered to put in the extra effort. Is that the impression you want to give potential employers? Take the time to read through the job listing carefully. Ensure your resume and cover letter highlight the specific skills and experience that make you a good fit for that position.
Trap #3: Focusing on Salary and Benefits Instead of What You Can Bring to the Table
In today’s competitive job market, it can be easy to think only about “what’s in it for me.” But resist the urge to focus on salary and benefits during your interview—at least at first. Salary and benefits are important considerations. However, bringing them up too early in the process sends the message that they’re your primary motivation—not doing the job itself. So instead of focusing on what you want from the company, focus on what you can offer them. There’s a time and place to negotiate. Once you’ve been offered the job, you’ve proven that you could be a valuable team member. That’s the time to start talking about compensation.
Trap #4: Not Doing Your Research on the Company
Your happiness matters. Before going into an interview, it’s essential to research the company to understand its business model, corporate culture, etc. Put together some thoughtful questions about their vision and values. If you can connect with current employees, and have a candid conversation, even better. This will help you decide if this is a company you want to work for. All too often, job seekers get so caught up in landing a job and forget to ask themselves,” Would I enjoy doing these tasks and owning this role day in and day out? Does the work align with who and what I want to be? How so? Is it how I want to spend my time and energy?” So before hopping on that Zoom call or heading out for an in-person interview, take some time to learn more about the company. You might be surprised by what you find!
Trap #5: Being Inflexible
While knowing your worth is important, being inflexible with compensation, hours, or location can limit your opportunities. Being open and flexible shows that you are truly interested in finding a position that is a good fit for both parties. Think creatively about what you are willing to exchange for the right opportunity. Perhaps that is a lower base salary in exchange for an ownership stake in the company. Maybe it’s an interim second-shift position in exchange for a higher hourly rate. Or perhaps you would be willing to work at a distant branch for a limited time, with the opportunity work from home two days a week. Take a collaborative, transparent approach about what you need and why. “Would you be willing to consider X if that meant I could deliver Y? X is important to me because I have [this goal].”
You Got This.
Searching for a job can be daunting; it takes time, energy, and commitment. But there are some things you can do to increase your chances of success. Avoiding common traps like those listed above will put you ahead of many other job seekers—and one step closer to landing your dream job!
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