Common Pitfalls That Will Hinder Any Career Search

August 12, 2016 – With job prospects improving, workers are looking to greener pastures, but simple mistakes in the application process may be holding them back from landing a new opportunity, according to a recent survey conducted by CareerBuilder and Harris Poll. The survey included a representative sample of 3,244 full-time workers across all industries and company sizes.

Most Common Job Seeker Mistakes

Candidates need to take extra care when it comes to all aspects of the hiring process. According to Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer (CHRO) for CareerBuilder, avoiding these simple mistakes will get you closer to that job you’re pursuing;

  • 54 percent of job seekers don’t customize their resume for each employer – Employers can spot all-purpose resumes from a mile away. Tailor your resume to match the job description by inserting key words used in the job posting that match your experience. Not only will this catch the eye of the hiring manager, but it can move your resume to the top of the pile if an automated tracking system is scanning resumes for potential candidates.
  • 84 percent of job seekers don’t find out the hiring manager’s name and personalize the application – Applying directly to the hiring managers increases your chances of getting noticed and shows you’ve gone that extra step and invested time in getting to know the company.
  • 45 percent of job seekers don’t include a cover letter with their resume – Cover letters allow a candidate the opportunity to sell themselves beyond the typical listing of work experience and skills in a resume. Use a cover letter to introduce yourself and showcase your credentials in a relatable way.
  • 37 percent of job seekers don’t follow up with an employer after they applied – Recruiters can sometimes be overwhelmed by candidate applications for certain open jobs. Circling back with a recruiter or hiring manager after submitting a cover letter and resume can help job seekers standout among the competition.
  • 57 percent of job seekers don’t send thank you notes after an interview – This can be one of the most important steps in a candidate’s pre-hire journey as it enables you to reiterate why you’re the best fit for the job. Most recruiters and hiring managers expect a thank-you note in some form or another (email or handwritten), so neglecting this action will make you stick out like a sore thumb. Thank you notes should be sent after phone screening calls, as well.

“Workers realize that the job market is stronger than it has been over the last eight years, and technology is allowing them to pursue new opportunities faster and more efficiently than ever,” said Ms. Haefner. “But, just because they are able to submit an application easier, doesn’t mean candidates can skip basic steps – or requirements – like submitting a cover letter or customizing their resumes. These items get the attention of recruiters and hiring managers, and leaving them out of the process can hurt a job seeker’s chances of securing a new job.”

Additional Advice to Help Get the Job

Ms. Haefner also shared a few additional tips aimed at keeping job seekers informed and improving their chances on the career hunt.

  • Join an employer’s talent network or talent community – Stay up to date on the latest job opportunities from ideal employers, so you can continue to show interest in working for the company.
  • Social media can be an asset to job seekers, not a weakness – Recruiters using social media to screen candidates have reached an all-time high, but job seekers can use it to their advantage, too. Find out who you know at a potential employer and ask for a referral, or learn about latest company news to make for a more engaging conversation in an interview.
  • Practice your conversation skills with as many people as possible prior to an interview – Excellent written and verbal communication skills are quickly becoming the most sought after talents in job seekers across all industries. Look for ways to highlight these skills in your cover letter, resume and interviews.

According to CareerBuilder‘s ‘2016 Candidate Behavior’ study, job seekers must also be aware that it may take longer now to land the right job. The average time it takes to find a position – from the moment a job search begins to the point of accepting an offer – is typically at least two monthsDepending on the field and location, it can take even longer, so don’t get frustrated if you don’t get hired right away.

Follow New Rules of Engagement 

It’s also vital to remember that companies aren’t done with you if you don’t get the job offer. Fifty four percent of employers re-engage with past candidates who were not given job offers. More than half (53 percent) of employers say a resume doesn’t provide enough information for them to assess whether someone is a good fit for the job. They want to see a cover letter, professional portfolio where applicable, recommendations and links to social media profiles.

In addition, 63 percent of employers said one of the top questions they’re trying to answer when looking for candidates is, “What are their soft skills?” This shows the importance of highlighting less tangible skills associated with personality such as having a positive attitude, being dependable and working well under pressure.

“Job seekers may have more of an edge in today’s market as employers grow increasingly competitive for labor – but they need to follow new rules of engagement,” said Ms. Haefner. “For employers, it’s important to remember that the candidate experience starts from the very first click and can impact how effectively a company is able to recruit quality candidates, the popularity of its employer brand, the strength and quality of its referrals, and even its bottom line.”

Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media and Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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