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The 5 biggest mistakes people make when looking for a new job

They apply for jobs online with mass production speed, using the same resume

Slow down. Recruiters and talent acquisition professionals get an overwhelming number of applicants for each open position and must eliminate most of them. Your resume only stands out from the slush pile as a keeper when the hiring manager can 1) tell that you understand the mission and goals of their organization, 2) have aligned your past experience with the role at hand, 3) have positioned at least one distinct “It-Factor” that intrigues them.

Fashion your resume with the detail of a fine tailor. Reference organizational qualities you’ve learned from the website. Site news on the company or industry that you’ve researched online. Position internal contacts you’ve developed on LinkedIn and elsewhere as advocates to give you insight into the culture and to open a door for you.

They limit their search to the same industry and same size company

It’s human nature to stay with what is comfortable. But often people underrate their viability to switch professions because they don’t realize their transferable talents. Identify your transferable skills and the industries where they bring value. (Here is a free training course on transferable skills.) Then start conversations with people who work in those industries to broaden your familiarity with the company, industry language and culture. 

They do not prepare for the interview

I have had clients interview for roles where the final candidate had already been identified yet they secured the job because they wowed the team on the interview. And I have seen people who have clearly been qualified for a role fail to win the job because of their inept interview skills. Make sure you have good questions to ask. Be able to tell a story about what you’ve learned through the trials and triumphs of your career. Show don’t tell.

“I am really good at building relationships” is subjective. “When I started in my career I thought everyone worked the way I do and that management would be easy. I thought I could just define the vision and get out of their way. That wasn’t enough. I began to realize the diversity of generations, cultures and personality traits on my team and that I needed to see each member as an individual.

I learned the value of meeting with them regularly and tying what we are doing to their personal goals. That is why my attrition is only 6% and we exceeded goals last year by 11%.” That’s objective. That’s a story.

They don’t have a 30-60-90-day plan for the role

When you look for a new job your first challenge is not impressing them with how great you are. They won’t believe you anyway. It is first convincing them that you are resourceful enough to figure out what you need to do to be successful. Too often candidates like to boast of their accomplishments without context of what else contributed to their success.

Hiring managers want to know that in an imperfect environment you can succeed. Show them that you understand some of the challenges of the company or industry, that you will interview key people in the first 30 days, what you project as short-term wins, and what long-term strategy is required to meet your vision. Create a professional plan on paper for the interview.

They haven’t built their tribe

Your tribe is your support network. It is the people in your sphere of influence who advocate and prop you up when you need it and catch you when you fall. Tribes are how we as humans escaped extinction over time. They keep us safe and help us to thrive. We are stronger together than alone. This means that you must also prop others up and catch them as well.

Servant leadership underpins a vibrant tribe. Every CEO role I ever secured was due in part to the influence of my tribe. I won the roles based on my own ability. But I got in the door because of my tribe. Build your tribe at networking events, by deep listening in conversations, participating in discussions on LinkedIn, caring about people, and meeting with key people who you admire.

Ask yourself, “How can I serve this person?” The payoff is down the road. Good people will want to serve you in return.

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