10 top job search mistakes and how to address them

31st Dec 2020

1. Lack of Career Direction

Before you can begin your job search it’s a good idea if you know what you’re aiming for and how best you can use your skills and strengths and in turn how this relates to the job opportunities available to you. For some, they are very clear about what they are looking for, but for others, they have perhaps not considered how else they could use their skill-set which in a lot of cases are highly transferable. Additionally, when embarking on your job search, it’s important to be realistic of where you are. It’s also important to understand the labour market to inform good decision making and to also help identify the skills needed for certain professions. A good knowledge of LMI (Labour Market Information) will also help to broaden horizons and opportunities that might have never been considered. It helps you keep up to date with changes, for example, the increase in e-commerce has affected the way businesses operate and thereby the decrease in certain roles such as retail.

2. Inflexible about Your Requirements

Flexibility is one of the key skills you will need to be successful in your job search. The changing nature of the labour market means many employers are seeking to appoint staff on projects, assignments and temporary roles. Additionally, the increase in part-time working means that the full-time and permanent roles that you are seeking may not be a reality. Instead, consider what is now known as a Portfolio Career, providing you with the perfect opportunity to combine part-time work with some freelance. Even if a role is advertised as part-time, don’t discount this as there is always the possibility of the increase in hours. Also, don’t overlook a role that may not be your long-term role in your dream location, as it’s often much easier to move from a job to another job, especially within sectors, and also within companies, as you can often move around internally.

3. Relying on Online Job Adverts

A job advert is an ideal "want list” for the recruiter; detailing the required skills and experience of the candidate. However, approximately 80% of vacancies are not advertised by recruiters, in what is known as the Hidden Job Market. Recruitment for a business is a timely and costly process, and one they are keen to avoid. Chances are if you are scrolling through jobs boards applying for vacancies, you are missing out on many potential opportunities open to you. A highly effective way to tap into this market is to get in touch with a company with your CV and covering letter; enquiring what job opportunities  they have. Better still, if you are able to make direct contact with the hiring manager, it will be much easier for you to follow up and chances are the recruiter will remember you once they received your application. Recruiters like the direct approach and especially in sectors, such as the service and creative industries, where the hidden job market is most prevalent, being proactive are skills required in these roles, and what a better way to demonstrate this.

4. Limited Job Search Toolkit

Most people think that the two main tools they have are their CV and cover letter. However, when considering your job search tools, there are many more available at your disposable For many job seekers, online websites are a strong resource and there are many online jobsites and online recruitment agencies where you can post your CV so that recruiters can actively contact you for opportunities.

Also, don’t forget to use trade magazines and journals that will advertise industry-specific openings and recruitment agencies are also a very good resource. Agencies provide a link between the client (the company) and the job seeker. The agency will recruit on behalf of a company and will therefore actively contact job seekers and match the two. There are specialist recruitment agencies so it’s certainly worth registering with one.

5. Lack of Personal Statement

A strong personal statement is an essential requirement for any jobseeker and if you get it right, it will set you apart from others that you are competing within in the labour market. Many roles will outline a set of requirements that they are looking for in their ideal candidate, also known as the person specification. Ensure that you pay close attention to the essential requirements and work your way through these, providing examples of when you have demonstrated these competencies. It is also really important that you fully complete all sections of the personal statement which usually forms part of a wider job application form.

6. Networking

Networking should be a central focus for any seeker and even if you are not considering changing jobs, it’s worth evaluating the networks that you have as you never know when you might need them!  There are now many more opportunities with Open Events, Careers Events and Networking Sessions are all the perfect opportunity to make contacts with those in your sector or perhaps an industry you are looking to move into.

7. Unfocused Approach

How much time you dedicate to your job search will depend on your motivators, if you are unemployed, your job-hunt should be treated as a full-time job. Invest your time in your search as you would in a typical working week. It will help to have some structure so that you can also enjoy other pleasures such as exercise, family and friends. It is much better to take your time on fewer but quality applications and above all else try not to adopt a scatter-gun approach of just, sending out lots of applications without tailoring your application; the recruiter will know. In reality, the most effective job strategies hinge on having a strong strategy focusing on specific jobs and applications, using a number of tools and resources.

8. Sending Inadequate Applications

As one of your key job search tools, it’s worth taking the time to ensure this is at its best and maximises every opportunity to secure an interview.  Not only this, the CV and letter need to be tailored towards each application, whilst paying attention to standard CV writing practices of proper formatting, spelling, grammar, layout and style. Focus on ensuring each application is strong by mirroring what they are looking for if you are able to offer this experience. You are ideally aiming for about 80% of what they are looking for as ideally, the person specification is a set of desired criteria by the recruiter. Depending on the pool of applications that they receive, will depend on how flexible they can be at the final applicant screening stage. Make sure you pay particular attention to the requirements when applying for the role, so for example, some roles will ask you to complete an online application and not submit a CV, however, some other roles will require you to answer a set of questions.  It is also good practice to send your CV with an accompanying cover letter highlighting your suitability even if they don’t ask for one. Also, as a final note, don’t be afraid to follow up with the employer, firstly to check they received your application, but to also affirm your interest.

9. Failing to Prepare for Interviews

So you have put in all that hard work into crafting a strong CV and cover letter which has lined you up an interview. Perfecting your interview style is one of life’s essential skills and there is so much information out there in terms of how best to prepare for an interview and how you can answer questions. During the COVID-Pandemic online interviews have significantly increased, so it’s worth considering that this may be the initial stage of the recruitment process, so ensure if you need, that you can get access to the relevant computer, software and space to conduct the interview. Many of us have had to adapt to new ways of working within the last year, so this may also be a new recruiting feature you will need to familiarise yourself with.

10. Allows knock backs to hold you back

It’s fair to say that for some people their job search won’t always go to plan which can affect your confidence and motivation. Try to remain positive and take and act upon the feedback that you receive. If you are submitting lots of applications, but not hearing anything; then it’s highly likely your application process is the answer. Ask yourself, is your application detailed enough and am I realistically meeting all the selection criteria. If you were unsuccessful as a result of an interview, had you considered trying to secure an internship or work experience to learn more about the role? You would then be able to demonstrate this insider knowledge within your application, should a role come up again in the future?  This will certainly show your determination and resilience, which are all qualities highly regarded by employers.