As we should all know by now, job hunting can be hellish – especially in this economy. Not only do you have to deal with potential employers who are either looking for the "perfect" candidate or a person who can do impossible things*, you also need to deal with competition. This is especially true when you’re looking for a job at the beginning of the year, because that’s when everyone decides that it’s “a great time to make a change”.
While you can’t really do anything about the employers who tend to hire people based on a checklist, you can at least avoid making some horrible mistakes that make companies overlook you as a candidate. Here are some of the worst things you can do when you’re trying to find a good job:
Not distinguishing yourself
This is not just about basing your resume off a template, although that’s one of the most obvious manifestations of this mistake. This pertains to just about anything that makes you look like you’re part of the crowd that prevents you from standing out in the mind of a potential employer. This includes everything from cover letters and email to fax and online profiles. If you don’t pique the interest of any recruitment specialist, you can’t expect to get the job.
Of course, we get why you do this. Some companies can be very conservative and want their people to conduct themselves in a certain way. But if you do that with every potential employer, then you’re just failing yourself. Try taking a page from this guy. We don’t know if he got the job, but he’ll probably find one somewhere because he’s so memorable.
Not customizing your resume for every potential employer/position
This has a little bit to do with distinguishing yourself, but with different goals. Standing out is for when you don’t quite know which specific employers you want to attract (while knowing what kind of company culture you like at the same time). Customizing your resume is for when you want to get PARTICULAR employers to consider you for a certain position. This involves studying the criteria the organization associates with the job title, and editing your resume to put emphasis on the experience that makes you ideal for it.
We also understand why people don’t take the time to customize their resumes for certain positions and employers – it’s just too darn hard. The only thing that will make it easy is if you lie; but that will probably come back to haunt you when you actually land that position. But the thing is that the extra effort DOES attract the right kind of interest. People who go the extra mile are more likely to get the work they want.
There are other mistakes that you can make while you’re job hunting, but these two are the worst. If you can’t wear your unique personality like a badge or market yourself effectively to your target audience, then you’re lost.
*That is to say, they expect you to be able to do EVERYTHING they think they can cram into a job title.