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Job Seekers: Is Your Approach Holding You Back?

Written by Joanna Hughes

What’s the #1 thing standing in the way of some thwarted job searchers? Unfortunately, the answer may be closer to home than expected: themselves. The contemporary job market is trickier than ever and many pitfalls exist throughout the process, but there are also plenty of opportunities… if you know how to capitalize on them. Read on to learn if your approach is holding you back from the job of your dreams.

One Size Fits One

Back in the good old days of dot matrix printers and snail mail submission, job applicants might send off tens (even hundreds!) of identical resumes in the hopes of reeling in a response or two. This approach in today’s market is not only a waste of time, but demonstrates a lack of insight as well as many missed opportunities. Why? Because we live in the age of instant information.

Your resume and cover letter aren’t just a chance to show off your skills; rather, they’re a chance to show why your skills are a match for a particular job. The best resumes are not a comprehensive detailing of everything you’ve done for the past 25, 10 or 5 years. Rather, they’re a showcase of your most relevant experience and skills. Every single resume should be customized specifically for the job for which you’re applying. Every word is an opportunity to get noticed so take your time and make it count.

It’s Not About You

A hiring manager wants to get a sense of your skills, but the truth is these are meaningless in a vacuum. Instead, your interviewer is also looking to determine how your skills will fit into their particular company and corporate culture. After all, your experience is moot if it can’t be applied in the workplace.

Don’t write a cover letter or go into an interview prepared only to talk about yourself. Again, this is a missed opportunity. Instead, be prepared to demonstrate that you understand the job, the company’s needs, and the company itself. Yes, you’re marketing yourself…but beyond anything else, marketers know and understand their audience.

Prep and Conquer

To put it bluntly: you have no excuse not to be prepared in the age of instant information. From websites to social media, everything you could possible want to know about a prospective employer is readily available for your consumption. Use it.

The most successful candidates understand the company, its culture, and its market position. The least successful candidates remain obstinately and senselessly uninformed. It may seem like a waste of time to spend hours looking into a company where you may or may not eventually work, but it’s not. Think of the pre-interview research as an investment in your future, and the knowledge you learn as an asset you’ll take with you when you’re hired.

Follow Up and Follow Through

Picture this: you’re in the middle of an interview with a manager, and the discussion is going well. You’re conversing about the job, and you’ve had plenty of opportunities to demonstrate your skills, talents and experience. But don’t get too comfortable: yes, the interview is a chance for the company to get to know more about you, and you to get to know more about the company. But it’s also a test, and one of the quickest ways to fail it is to forget or neglect critical follow-up. If you’re asked to provide follow-up information or thoughts during an interview, make a note and follow-up immediately. Failure to do so — no matter how impressive the interview — is likely to send your resume into the shred pile.

Job hunting today is anything but general or passive. The best candidates proactively revise themselves with every single job application — not just to make an impression, but to make the impression. Meanwhile, failure to incorporate these tips into your process can result in unhappy outcomes.

About the author

Joanna Hughes

Joanna Hughes is a freelance writer who specializes in business, human resources and the job market. She lives with her family in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire.