Today, you may discover that some of your job search efforts have become like a self-afflicted wound. Do you ever notice that old cartoons were hilarious in that way? I remember the cartoon where the Coyote would try to capture the road runner. The Coyote would always hurt himself even when he looked victorious. He would always try to ambush the road runner, but failed each time resulting in hurting himself.
You may have done this in your job search. Perhaps one of these occurrences initiated by you ambushed your career aspirations and efforts:
1. Underestimating the potential relationship between current and potential employers. It will befuddle you that within the same industries that employers may know each other (no matter the distance) and comparing and contrasting hiring conversations take place regularly. My former client’s boss talked her potential employer who incidentally was in the final stages of her interviewing for a job. My former client’s boss shared a very negative perspective that concerned the potential employer. This conversation between the two resulted in her not getting the job. Let that be a warning of how your research may connect others in a way unfavorable to you.
2. Not understanding or discovering what your (social) network may know. Social networks are not just collecting names. By not socializing, engaging, and sharing content you are missing opportunities extending past compensation and benefits. Offer to help first. There are times when your charity will be reciprocated. Start conversations even if it means to share what you’re eating, listening, or watching. Eventually, meaningful conversation will occur.
3. Not adding value to any of your networks. It’s true that you don’t get because you don’t ask. Conversely, you don’t get because you always ask and not offer. Networking and the workplace, like the commercial, “…is not how any of this works.” Desperation is also a way to alienate your network as I saw a couple of people in my network beg for referrals last year. Begging is not good. It’s better to give first. Giving is the new getting, and getting requires a lot of giving. Get it?
4. Not meeting new people anywhere. OK, so you use Facebook for friends and family. Is that the same rule you use for the other social networks too? When I see people with less than 100 followers on Twitter and Linkedin, most of the time they are not all that social. Open yourself to new followers and connections by initiating engagement by following others. There are ways to search and find those with similar career aspirations, goals, and contacts. It even helps to initiate meeting in person or talking via phone, Skype or Google Hangout.
5. No searchable or personal brand. This is the year where companies are aggressively building their employer brand. Companies such as Zappos have axed their job boards and are implementing forums and discussion boards to familiarize themselves with interested job seekers. Trust me when I say attractive job candidates will have personal brands that are engaging and resourceful. The more information employers and recruiters can find about a candidate, the more likely they will consider that person first.
6. No one recommends you. This doesn’t include your flunkies, family, or people you’ve harassed to refer you. These are people who are your evangelists or at minimum, people who you’ve earned their trust. My bud and fellow career pro, Melissa Cooley wrote a great article on managing your career recently. She is clear, but to pile on to clarity, neglecting your career is as bad as neglecting your health. And there must be witnesses to your greatness. In the days of social, “social proof” is as important as your qualifications. Endorsements and recommendations on Linkedin are essential, but recommendations provide social proof of your capabilities.
7. Not considering if your desired job has several titles. Job descriptions change and evolve as the job market changes. If you are checking job descriptions for one state or region, then check other regions as well to see if expanded training, language, or terms could lend further insight into the position. If there are skill requirement differences but for the same job, then make the opportunity to get that training. For example, an executive assistant in the same industry may not need a project management certification locally, but regionally it is becoming an industry standard, and then getting the certification before applying locally would make sense.
In conclusion, the lack of conscientious conversations and career research could hurt your chances. To me, getting in my own way is worst than if someone was to sabotage my efforts. All of the above could hurt your chances. The job search is already difficult to market yourself and making yourself likable enough for employers to hire. Why not make it easy on yourself by strategizing carefully in a way that helps you to stand out?