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The pitfalls of job hunting (and how to avoid them!)

By Jenny Hargreaves, 2nd February 2017

When you are looking for a new opportunity, applying for jobs can sometimes become a difficult and disheartening process, and finding the right role can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. It’s very easy to become frustrated when you are spending time re-working your CV and filling out online application forms but then getting little back from it. However, the most important thing is to remain positive and learn from your past experiences.

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Below is a list of things that are very easy to do when you are job hunting that you should try to steer clear of:

  • Blaming other people. It is all too easy to try and pass the responsibility for your job searching difficulties on to other people, but it is very important that you take ownership of the process and don’t blame others. Try to keep focused on positive actions instead of negative thoughts and move forwards in a confident manner.
  • Making your whole life revolve around your job search. Don’t let yourself become entirely consumed by it and make sure you are still taking the time to enjoy things like time with your family and looking after your own wellbeing. Maintaining a balance in your life is so important; everyone needs variety and interaction. As well as this, it can very often be the case that the more you chase something, the more it seems to elude you, which could be very demotivating. Don’t let this happen to you!
  • Taking it personally. It is rare (although not unheard of) to be offered the very first job that you apply for. Rejection is an unfortunate part of the process and something that everybody goes through. The best thing to do is accept this. If possible, always ask for feedback and learn from it. Past failures can always help towards future successes.
  • Searching in all the same places. Broaden your horizons. Online job boards are always a good option and important place to start, but they are not the only option that is available to you. Think about specific companies and apply directly through their website. Try and build connections on LinkedIn. Look at professional networks, recommendations and referrals: this market can be less competitive.
  • Failing to give a clear message. Employers will often find themselves inundated with applications, but what they are most interested in is where and how you have added value, rather than a complete history of everything you’ve done during your working life. Make sure that this is clear to them in your application. A film doesn’t give away every detail in the trailer (unless it’s Batman vs. Superman, but that’s a very separate issue). Instead, it lures you in by selling the best and most exciting parts and makes you want more. Think about your application in the same way: use it as a trailer that you are using to convince potential employers to buy a ticket for the feature film.
  • Hiding it from people. If you are still in work but looking for a new opportunity, obviously you aren’t going to want to be broadcasting this all around the office. However, whilst searching for a new job can be quite a personal experience, particularly if you suffer a few knockbacks, you shouldn’t try to do it completely on your own. Sharing the experience with those closest to you will make it much easier for you and will often make the process more effective. They can help pick you up if you get a rejection, motive you to persevere and can keep a lookout for opportunities for you as well.
  • Applying for every job you find. It is important not to just keep throwing mud at the wall in the hope that something will eventually stick. This can lead to a loss of focus and be very demotivating; there is also the danger that it will make you look desperate. Few things discourage an employer more than a candidate who does not know anything about their company or what the role they have applied for involves. It is also an almost impossible task to keep track of every application you have made.
  • Being afraid of backing yourself. This is the time for you to really make some noise about how amazing you are. Sing your own praises: tell people exactly how good you are and how much value you could bring to their business. There is no sense whatsoever in having your expertise and experience as your best kept secret: play them up whenever are wherever you can. Confidence (but never arrogance) is the key in this situation.
  • Not changing with the times. If you have been in a role for a while and have not been looking, your expectations may not be completely realistic. It is easy to assume that the job market will have remained unchanged since the last time you were looking for a position, but times are constantly changing. Keep an open mind, familiarise yourself with the modern job market and find how you can best place yourself within it.
  • Taking your eye off of the competition. Find how you can set yourself apart from other jobseekers. Don’t just think about your work experience and your skills, but also your key achievements. Think about specific situations in which you have made a difference or done something out of the ordinary. Others applying for the same jobs as you are highly likely to have similar skills and responsibilities, but your achievements are unique to you. Briefly summarise a particular situation in which you can explain the actions you took and quantify the outcome. This is consistent with competency-based interviews and could help you make a better impression when you get to this stage.
  • Being overly persistent. Whilst enthusiasm is great, there is such a thing as being too much. There is a fine line between showing your dedication and interest in a role and coming across as slightly desperate. There is no need to chase up on things every single day, multiple times a day. If you are told you will be given an update within a specific timeframe and do not receive one, by all means follow this up. However, it is not necessary for you to be calling your recruiter morning, noon and night. It is understandable that you want to be at the forefront of their mind, but being overly persistent will mean that you are there for the wrong reasons, not the right ones.
  • Disappearing completely. Opposing this, do not simply vanish from the face of their Earth. It can be frustrating and you could end up regretting it later down the line if another position comes up and they will not consider you as a result of your previous poor form. If you have second thoughts about an opportunity, for whatever reason, let them know. They will appreciate your honesty and may even be able to quell any concerns you are having.

Attacking the job market can be daunting and you should feel proud of yourself for making the decision to do so. Remember: knowledge is power, so the more that you know about yourself and what sets you apart from the rest, the better placed you are in order to find your next position. 

Tags: Candidate, candidate advice, job search, Job applications, Job, job search advice, assign Jenny Hargreaves

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