I’ve Seen Thousands Of Candidates Looking For A New Job Over My Career. These Are My Top Ten Job Search Mistakes

Over the last twenty years of working across HR and Executive search, I’ve looked at thousands of CV’s with the majority being excellent. Often, it’s not the candidate that is the problem. It’s not their skills, knowledge or even their experience; it’s how they’re going about their job search that is the real problem.

Job Search Market

On average, each job advert receives 250 applications.  In my experience, out of the 250 applications, 10% are relevant. Realistically, this means for every position, there’re twenty-five candidates that you’re competing with. As a result, the way you search for a new job should have changed. Yes, there are still the old ways of applying to positions on job boards and using recruitment agencies; however, you also need to get proactive and start sending your CV directly to the hiring manager, while actively networking within your network.

Top Ten Job Search Mistakes

Below are my top ten job search mistakes that you need to make sure that you don’t make if your job search is going be successful.

No Cover Letter to An Online Submission

75% of companies across the world are using applicant tracking systems (ATS) to sort through the thousands of applications for each position. As we’ve discussed in the past, ATS portals work by searching for keywords on your CV and cover letter.Consequently, if you’re applying to job adverts online, you need to; 

  • Firstly, make sure you’ve written a great cover letter that includes all the relevant keywords your application could warrant.
  • Secondly, combine both your CV and Cover Letter into one file to represent the majority of keywords that any recruiter is going to search for and make sure your CV is read. 

If you need help writing your cover letter, there are plenty of resources across this website;

Terrible CV

Writing your CV is not difficult and not something you should worry about. That said, there’re a few basic principles that you need to follow if you’re going to get this process correct.

There are two parts to getting your CV right.

  • Keywords – We discussed above how companies are making use of ATS portals to search through thousands of CV’s every day. As a result, you need to make sure your CV contains the right keywords that a recruiter will search across their ATS portal, to find your CV.
  • Hiring Manager Needs – The second part of writing a decent CV is to make sure you have everything a hiring manager wants to see. The key areas you should focus on are your achievements, responsibilities and projects that you’ve been involved in.

There is the option of using a professional CV writer, however, I’m not sure how much I agree with this. In my experience, the majority of “professional CV’s writers” have minimal qualified experience and when I’ve asked questions about ATS portals or what recruiters are looking for on your CV, often the answers are limited. Your CV might look nice, but if it’s not going to be picked up by a company’s ATS portal, you’ve wasted a lot of money.  If you need help writing your cover letter, there are plenty of resources across this website;

Wrong Contact Details

If was given one-dollar for each CV I had tried to contact but found the contact details were wrong, I would be living on a tropical island with an unlimited amount of money.You need to make sure both your email address, and telephone number is correct. Nobody is going to make any effort to track you down just because your telephone number is wrong.

No Social Media Profile

Candidates that don’t have or have a minimal selection of social media profiles are missing a significant opportunity to find a new job. Recent studies have shown that 92% of recruiters surveyed are using social media as part of their candidate search. Of the core social media platforms, 87% are using LinkedIn, 55% are using Facebook, and 47% are using Twitter.

Out of the range of social media platforms, LinkedIn is defiantly the one platform I use the most, and the one platform I would highly recommend that you are active across. LinkedIn currently has over 500 Million members of which the clear majority are professionals and potential hiring managers.

Remember LinkedIn is a two-way platform. Yes, you’ll find recruiters using it to find talent for their clients, but you can also use to it reach out to recruiters, and potential hiring managers. 

LinkedIn Profile

Often candidates have a LinkedIn profile but haven’t bothered completing it correctly. There’s no profile photo, no profile section containing relevant keywords and worse still, job titles are things like, “Director”.

Remember, if I’m going to be searching through LinkedIn, I’m going to be using keywords that are relevant to a specific search. If those keywords are not on your LinkedIn profile, there is no chance I’m going to find you, and more importantly, no chance I’m going to approach you.

I would highly recommend that you fill in your LinkedIn profile with the same consistency as you’ve done with your CV. Remember to focus on relevant keywords, your responsibilities, achievements and critical projects that you’ve worked on. If you need to help to make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to scratch, there’s a great article here discussing how to ensure recruiters find your profile on LinkedIn

What Does Your Online Profile Say?

52% of recruiters check your social media before they send your profile to the hiring manager. What does your say about you? Over the last twenty years, there have been times when I’d thought I had found the perfect candidate, only see their social media was littered with their out of work exploits, which did not exactly put them in the best possible light.

Drunken pictures while you’re out at 2 am on a weeknight, bad behaviour and even illegal activity have all put off hiring managers in the past.

I’ve Applied to 100 Jobs, But Not A Single Rely

I can well believe this. In all honesty, if you’d added another zero and applied to 1000 jobs without a reply, I would believe you as well. The real problem, it’s so easy to apply to jobs online.

If you run a search for “Sales Manager” jobs, “worldwide” in LinkedIn, using their “Easy Apply” feature, there’re roughly 59,000 jobs. The easy-apply function, means, with one-click you can apply to the position. In ten minutes, you can easily apply to 30 jobs, and if you gave me a few hours, I could apply to a few thousand.

The point, I’m not a Sales Manager. My LinkedIn profile doesn’t say I’m a sales manager and I have zero chance of getting an interview. When I hear those dreaded words, that a candidate has applied to 100 jobs and not had a single reply. I often ask to see the jobs they’ve applied to. Guess what; the candidate merely has applied to 100 jobs they’d like to do, or thought they could do, not what they were interested in or had any experience in.

I’ve Followed Your Advice and Sent My CV to the CEO

I’m a great fan of the hiring manager outreach process where you email your CV directly to the hiring manager. This skips the recruiter who is only interested in whether you can fill their roles while allowing the hiring manager to see if you can add any value to their team.

In my opinion, this job search strategy and networking, are the only ways you should be looking for a new job in 2018, however, you need to make sure you’re emailing the hiring manager. Too often, candidates complain they’re not getting any traction even after sending their CV directly to the CEO. Remember, the CEO of the majority of companies is likely to have an assistant. That assistant is likely to have access to their email and will filter out spam messages such as your email with your CV attached.

Rather than trying to email the CV, it would be much better to find your potential manager and email them directly.

I Simply Cannot Get A Job

Generally, I hear this phrase when candidates have all but given up trying to find a job. However, all’s not lost, here’s a great job that you could start doing today. Work from home – the contracting, remote job, bit job space has increased ten-fold over the last few years.

There are literally twenty websites across the world where people will pay you for odd jobs they need doing. This could be anything from writing a sales pitch, writing jobs translating and even data entry. Working from on your computer is a reality in the world we live in today. 

Not Asking for Help

Not asking for help is probably the biggest mistake that I see candidates making. It always surprises me candidates that I didn’t know where even looking for a job, suddenly announce they were getting desperate and wanted some advice. Obviously, as a Head-Hunter, my network is extensive, and I would be able to help at the very least, point you in the right direction if I’d known.

Make sure you discuss this with your friends, family, old managers, and anyone you know to help you find a new job. In a healthy market, I think 50% of all jobs will be filled through some sort of personal contact. When the market is terrible, this figure can be much higher as companies are trying to cut cost through their recruitment. 

Follow Up

Finding a job is often a brutal experience, however, if you follow the advice provided here, finding your dream job, shouldn’t be difficult.

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Nick Jones

My name Nick Jones, I am a professional Head-Hunter with over 20 years of experience working all over the world. I specialise in out-of-the-box job search strategies to get your CV directly to the hiring manager, thus skipping any ATS portals or recruiters who think they're important.

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