Five Fatal Flaws to overcome in your Job Search

Written by Robert Collins BA'77

I have the joy of meeting very talented job seekers wondering why they have not experienced employment success and as a result, are starting to get into a spiral of negative self-talk and doubt. What’s happening and what can they do?

1. Job Board Fatigue

Daily visits to job boards often leads to time spent exploring interesting but not focused opportunities. Looking mainly for specific job titles can lull us into the self-deception that we are actively job searching.

Job boards have their place and should be accessed on a regular, time-limited basis – approximately two hours weekly. In addition to specific job titles, we can also discover trends and terminology of particular sectors and occupations - very useful to uncover new opportunities and increase the relevance of our cover letters and resumes to employers. Seeing companies with multiple postings over time also informs us that change is underway and with change comes opportunities. So, in addition to providing an application avenue, job boards can provide the signposts for job seekers to target their networking efforts and information interviews.

2. Lost Perspective

Frequently, resumes and cover letters are written from the perspective of the job seeker telling a story about their education, job titles and responsibilities. What’s missing is the skills, experiences and accomplishments that have prepared the candidate to succeed in the employer’s environment. So, think like an employer - research the company and its goals and consider yourself as a valuable resource – how will your skills and achievements contribute to their future success?

3. Misplaced Effort

The theme "Looking for love in all the wrong places" can equally apply to one’s job search process. Increasingly, there are more employment opportunities with small and medium sized enterprises who report that the majority of their hiring comes from referrals and contacts rather than website career pages and job board postings. So, in addition to some time-limited job board review and accessing the services of private sector and government funded employment services, effective job search includes some research into the full range of local enterprises and their supply chain followed by networking, well planned telephone calls and company visits.

4. Protective Shell

Candidates often approach employer meetings and interviews feeling that it is the employer’s responsibility to ask the right questions to determine one’s skills, fit for the organization and overall suitability. Instead, candidates who consider this opportunity a shared responsibility approach interviews with energy, curiosity and engagement - often displaying the positive focus and ability to contribute that the employer is seeking. Job seekers must also be prepared to indicate if there is not a fit with the identified role. This displays understanding of the job expectations, can save the interviewer valuable time and can be used to discuss roles that are a much better fit

5. Going it alone

While we are not all comfortable communicators or attentive listeners (just ask my wife) when stressed - especially sharing our job search struggles. Building a supportive network, accepting and acting on feedback is critical to keeping us moving forward. It’s said that ageing is not for the faint of heart – well, that certainly can be said too for job searching. Friends, family, neighbours, former colleagues, associations and clubs as well as employment services can all provide support, contacts, and leads. Many employers are asking their employees to refer talent and financial incentives that are beyond just the satisfaction of helping another. Often, others want to help but are shy about offering it, so by asking for specific assistance, such as ‘Would you mind reviewing my resume?’ 'Could you introduce me to blank?’ and ‘Do you know anyone who works at company x?' we are overcoming that awkwardness.