Whether you’re fresh out of college or looking for a job after a decade working in the same company, there are common mistakes every first-time job hunter makes. Save yourself valuable time and energy with our guide to the strategies to adopt instead.
1. You set your target too wide
In the early stages of your job search it can be tempting to fire off applications and contact anyone and everyone you can think of – but don’t.
John Lees, career coach and author of How To Get A Job You’ll Love, explains: ‘Registering with employment agencies when you don’t know what roles you are chasing marks you down as someone who will be difficult to help. Likewise, emailing out a vague, untested CV to all of your contacts is unlikely to get the results you want.’
You risk wasting more than just your time. ‘Applying for jobs where you’re unlikely to get shortlisted leads to early knockbacks, which can easily dent interview confidence and cause you to start tinkering with your CV and downgrading your ambitions,’ says John.
‘Instead, take time to consider what you really want, and then research opportunities. Use your best contacts at the right time, i.e. only approach senior people who are great door openers when you know exactly what you’re looking for and what you have to offer.’
2. You dismiss contract or temporary work
You may want a permanent job, but remember that many companies, particularly small ones, are reluctant to commit to taking on permanent, full-time staff right now.
‘When you contact a company – either speculatively or about an advertised role – mention that you would be open to temporary or contract work, for example, on a three-month project or while someone is away,’ suggests Tanya de Grunwald, founder of the graduate careers blog Graduate Fog and author of How to Get a Graduate Job in a Recession.
‘If they give you a short contract, you’re in a good position if they make the role permanent. Even if they don’t, you’ve got three months’ experience you didn’t have before.’
3. You hide behind a computer screen
If you spend all day applying for jobs online, remember to get out from behind the screen.
John says: ‘Many first-time job seekers make the mistake of approaching potential contacts by email rather than phone. Emails are easy to ignore, especially by busy managers, but you’d be amazed how a well-timed phone call to the right person can open doors.’
John recommends networking, whether that’s talking to friends and family or making new contacts via online networking communities, such as LinkedIn.
‘Reach out through social media, join groups on sites like LinkedIn and take part in debates. Again, get out from behind the screen and attend real life networking events. Having a real life conversation with someone and then following up with an email or LinkedIn message will help to build the foundations of a relationship.’
4. You only apply for advertised jobs
If you are getting nowhere applying to advertised vacancies, try looking for hidden jobs.
Tanya says: ‘It’s a myth that all jobs are advertised – some estimate the real figure to be closer to 20 per cent.
‘Contact companies direct and say what’s led you to think they might be looking for help. Remember that for small companies, advertising vacancies is expensive. Interviewing is expensive too, as it uses up the time of paid employees.
‘Ask yourself “How can I find out about the jobs that aren’t advertised? Read everything you can about what’s happening in your chosen industry. What companies are doing well right now? Who has just won a big new client? Who is opening new branches?”
‘I’ve heard people who run smaller companies say they’re really struggling to find good quality young graduates. Broaden your search and you’ll find the competition thins out.’
5. You ask for experience
It’s a catch-22 for many graduates. A recruiter wants to see that you have some work experience – but you can’t get work without experience. While you may be interested in a role to gain experience, it’s best not to say that.
‘Asking for experience is a rookie error many first-time jobseekers make. If you do this you’re accidentally underlining the fact that you lack experience,’ says Tanya. An employer will give you a job if they think you can be useful to them, not because you need experience. Tell them what you can do, not what you can’t.’
How To Get A Job You’ll Love by John Lees
How to Get a Graduate Job in a Recession by Tanya de Grunwald
Image: © contrastwerkstatt – Fotolia.com