"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Thomas Edison

At the pace that technology and the global economy is moving, it is no wonder that we all have trouble keeping up. It may not be dressed in overalls but it is absolutely hard work. In the last 5-8 years, the way a job search is conducted has altered markedly, and professionals must continue to stay abreast of new styles, techniques and methodologies employed in a career transition. In some ways, our careers are now always “on” due to the Technology 4.0.

In other ways nothing has changed, including people seeming to make the same mistakes over and over. There are reasons for this repetitive pattern - it can be summed up best as either taking the obvious route to a goal that is also the path of least resistance, or repeating learned behavior from years gone by without an update.

Here is a list of the top 10 job search mistakes:job search

  1. Search only by job postings: The higher we climb up the corporate ladder, the less likely our job will be posted on Monster.com. The sheer number of applicants for any posting tends to inundate the recruiter and our chances of being selected will be greatly diminished by the sheer volume of competition. Anyways, low hanging fruit is usually too green to be picked and the ripe plums are more out of reach and need to be uncovered.
  2. Blasting our resume/CV out in a mass email: This is basically a form of spam and we know what most people do with that. The return on a direct mailings is typically 1-2% of the number sent, and the actual hit rate is even lower.
  3. Expecting too much from search firms: We know that search firms are not paid to find anyone a position, but many people hope that if they have high visibility with several search consultants, then a job opportunity will arise as a result. This is simply a game of chance and there is no guarantee that you will be in the right place at the right time. However, building relationships with search consultants can be a valuable - they are always the best source of resources and information on the markets they serve and can provide objective career advice.
  4. Formatting our resume/CV like it’s still 1990: In 1990, a resume was printed and mailed by post or entered page by page into a fax machine. In those days a resume had real pages that were held in a hand and read. Now it’s more likely that a Droid smart phone with a 6 inch screen will display our resume. The 1990 format is less than optimum, and can even be detrimental to your branding when in a digital job search.
  5. Writing our resume/CV like it’s still 1990: Indeed, some professionals still put the word “resume” at the top of their document and include their references at the bottom. Many professionals still use a CV format for a non-academic job search and put their work history in chronological order. The most egregious mistake is to limit an executive resume to one or two pages that leaves out important and valuable details in the process. Pages do not exist on a screen and professionals resumes are way beyond the MBA resume book stage.
  6. Relying on a Linkedin profile for our entire online marketing: Yes, Linkedin is a valuable, even indispensible tool for online visibility and self-promotion, especially during a search. But like relying on search consultants, job postings, resume mail-outs, and immediate networking contacts, it is only one avenue, methodology or tool during a search. It’s very important to cast our branded image far more broadly across the interweb as we have no idea where a new opportunity will arise. Facebook Pages are just beginning to become a powerhouse in the recruitment world.
  7. Not digging the well before we are thirsty: With the average executive search taking at least six months, and most positions being found through people we know, or get to know, then it only makes sense to have in place and in a state of readiness a large, supportive, broad-reaching network to call upon at a moment’s notice. Further, staying in touch with our networks and reaching out to help from our side then makes us look less like needy opportunists when we need to ask for help.
  8. Conducting a job search by lead generation rather than network building: When we treat every person we meet as a conduit to a job or door opener to a company, then the relationship will be short-lived at best and unable to grow and expand. People hire people they know and like, often despite their qualifications. Our networking contacts act as our goodwill ambassadors to those opportunities out of their affinity for us. It is up to us to build that affinity.
  9. The lack of a systematic, well-organized networking database: A good relational database that can tag, categorize, sort, connect relationships and track appointments is a must-have to grow and advance our careers. That so many people still rely on Franklin-Covey bound volumes, Excel spreadsheets, Yahoo address books, and rolodex business cards is testimony to how resistant we are to new learning.
  10. Following rules that may be obsolete, irrelevant, or limiting to our search: This list can be as endless as the one page resume is arbitrarily short. The bottom line is that the technologies and tools for search are dynamic, in flux and changing faster than any of us can typically master. But we compound the problem by our inflexibility, and unwillingness to adapt, change and grow.


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