With the growing unemployment rate in Nigeria, a lot of youths will go to great lengths to get any job. As they say “desperate times leads to desperate measures” and desperate measures leads to inevitable mistakes. Even the expert job seeker is bound to make a mistake here and there. But in a highly competitive talent market, a small mistake may cost you the job of your dreams. Most job seekers approach their job search with a set of beliefs about how the process should work and what will and won’t be effective. Unfortunately, many of those beliefs are wrong – and some of them will actually hold you back in your search.
Here are the top 5 mistakes which may be holding you back from any chance of an interview or getting that dream job.
Mistake #1: Responding to all Online Job Postings
What is your first reaction when you see an online job opening?
No need to be ashamed. Most of us react that way.
Desperate measures include applying for online jobs postings too. Do you know that 70% of the great hires are made through referrals? This reinforces the importance of networking as a job search tool. In general, job postings and “want ads” produce little value. The most valuable time spent will be productive networking.
Mistake #2: Sending Unsolicited Resumes
Unsolicited resumes are considered garbage and wasted effort. Your resume will likely be rejected by a business Applicant Tracking System (ATS) unless it’s specifically targeted to an open position. There are ways to beat an ATS, but that comes into play if you’ve made certain your resume is targeted to a specific and available job. If you’re blindly sending generic resumes, you’ll never get a response, and you’ve have expended valuable energy that would be better used on networking or other activities.
Mistake #3: Ineffective Networking
The key is to shift your focus from “openings” to “opportunities”. Networking should be the primary focus of every job search. To network successfully, it’s best to remember that networking is a “long game” that may evolve slowly, but that can pay off over time. It’s best to have a structured, professional approach that you can easily track and that will keep you accountable. Every month, set a goal for yourself of reaching out to three people. It doesn’t have to be in person; it could be sending a short note via LinkedIn or via email to catch up and see how they’re doing. Or, if you can schedule a face-to-face interaction, invite your connection to lunch and spend the time updating each other on what’s happening both at work and personally.
Mistake #4: Leaving Yourself Open to Many Kinds of Jobs
While you do need to remain open to opportunities and specific job openings, it’s important not to cast too wide a net. Another key to a successful job search is to focus on finding the right opportunity and not just any job. Before you even start your search, be absolutely clear on exactly the type of position you want, rather than focusing on one specific job role, and then spend all your efforts pursuing that sort of opportunity.
Mistake #5: Not Knowing Your Market Value
You must research and assess your value in the marketplace before you attend a single interview otherwise you’ll be negotiating without understanding the data. The time to talk money is when the employer has made it clear that you are their top candidate and has made an offer. Knowing what your skills, knowledge and experience are worth can make negotiating less painful. Tools like compensation benchmarking can help you decide what your market value is based on your technical skills, experience, and even geographic location. So, Know your worth.
The last thing you need to do after an interview is smile. And if the interviewer extends his or her hand, shake your interviewer’s hand firmly. Shake with an aim and passion, like you just scored a goal.
After managing to avoid these 5 pitfalls, who know, you might just get “the call” you have been waiting for. And I know your exact expression.