Losing a job isn't comfortable for anyone, but the further up the ladder you are, the harder it hits home. Visualize a pyramid. The higher up you go, the fewer positions exist. Salaries are larger, personal and family expenses are greater, and more is at stake. When two incomes suddenly become one, or one income suddenly becomes... nothing, back up reserves can get drained quickly.
Many seekers who have been employed for ten or twenty years may have had quite a few jobs in their career, perhaps even with the same employer. A long-standing, healthy job market has caused many to forget about the job search process.
Having spent three years running a local temp / perm agency, fifteen years in contingency, and four years in retained, I see the same mistakes and assumptions at every level of expertise and salary range.
There are three components involved in finding a job: the cover letter, the resume, and interviewing skills. Unfortunately, people don't realize that these are skill sets, just as what they do for a living is composed of skill sets. As a result, few people are top notch or even effective in these areas. Let's take a look at the three components:
- The Cover Letter: The cover letter should not be generic. It should use words from the ad - not concepts, but exact words. Take what they want, and talk about a specific instance of your experience in that exact area. Again, use their words. I do Edit > Find to check it with my clients.
- Your Resume: Resumes are frequently done in templates with little boxes leaving too much white space, or too much double spacing with wide margins. Another mistake is to cram a resume onto one page in a tiny font. Using large blocks of text is too bulky and doesn't invite reading. Try to avoid bullets listing job descriptions that are too general, failing to distinguish individual kudos of any kind.
- Your Interviewing Skills: Beyond looking for a "growth" company or a "progressive" company or a "company that respects its people," you must have depth to your knowledge about a potential employer. Instead of narrowly focusing your questions on the company - focus on the position. An interview is a two-way street and you need to create a dialogue with the interviewer. You must know how to take what you've learned and sell yourself with it; otherwise all the control is with the interviewer.
Some common mistakes job seekers make include:
- Applying to ads in an under or overly discriminating fashion
- Failing to understand recruiters and closing one's mind to them
- Not contacting cold companies or doing so ineffectively
The default to these becomes networking - except everyone else is also unemployed, or so it seems. And for those without a network, it's not an option.
Combine these and your average job seeker is operating at about 35% effectiveness. In a competitive market, no wonder things are tough. Now that you know what not to do, stick around for future issues as I delve deeper into the three components and explain how to perform a job search that gets results.