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5 ways you’re sabotaging your job search


LAST UPDATED: 07 March, 2024

Are you sabotaging your job search?

Are you wondering why you haven’t landed a new role after months on the job search trail? Sending out résumé after résumé with nothing to show for it doesn’t do a lot for your confidence. It’s true you’ve got competition, but you could also be sabotaging your success without realising it.

Here are a few of the most common ways I’ve seen job candidates shoot themselves in the foot:

1. Not following up (even when the interview was a disaster)

So the interview didn’t go as well as you’d hoped. Maybe it wasn’t your day. Or you totally blew your chances and you’re embarrassed. You still need to follow up. Why? Because if you don’t get hired this time, there will always be another job. So call and ask for feedback, send your interviewer a thank you note and connect on LinkedIn. When the next job comes up, and it could happen sooner than you think, it’s your name they’re going to remember.

I know because it happened to me. I missed out on the job I wanted first time around because the interview didn’t go so well. The following year, I was offered a better role with higher pay. Employers are human too and they understand that we all have our bad days. It’s worth staying in touch.

2. Over-reliance on job boards

Another mistake I’ve seen people make is to focus their efforts on the advertised job market. When you consider that around 70% of jobs are never advertised, you can see why it’s not the best strategy. It’s far easier to get a job through someone you know.

There are likely to be several people in your network who can help. Do you know what all of your contacts do for a living? Most of us don’t. That’s why I recommend you map your network as a first step.

Group everyone you know under headings like friends, former classmates, family, work colleagues etc and then list their job titles. If you don’t know what they do, make it your business to find out. Use online platforms like LinkedIn to search for 2nd degree connections that could be beneficial to your search. Approach relevant people for advice, but don’t ask for a job. Ask if they can introduce you to someone else who can help. You’ll be surprised by the opportunities that turn up just by doing this alone.

3. Believing you don’t have enough experience

I’ve seen people freak out about their lack of experience because they’re convinced they don’t fulfil the employer’s criteria. Sometimes this can stop them from even applying for a role they want. What they don’t realise is that job ads simply reflect an employer’s dream candidate. This person may not even exist. Your experience should be a good match for the role but it doesn’t have to be a perfect fit.

Remember to highlight your transferrable skills such as teamwork, communication and organisational skills as well as technical abilities. And don’t forget to mention why you want the job. Enthusiasm is often number one on a hiring manager’s list of desired attributes.

4. Negotiating over hours and/or pay

Conditions like hours and pay can be deal-breakers. Just as candidates don’t tick every box for employers, jobs won’t always be the perfect fit for you.

For example, if you want to work a four-day week but the job you’ve applied for is full-time, don’t give up if your request is refused. Ask if they would consider a nine-day fortnight or the option to work from home. Flexibility is a high priority for many employees and companies know this, so don’t be afraid to negotiate. If you still get a no and you really want the job you could ask them to review their decision in three months. Ultimately you have to decide if it’s something you’re willing to compromise on. And remember to do your homework before you go in. Is the company known as a progressive, equal opportunity employer? What are the organisation’s values? Find out and use this as leverage during negotiations.

5. Failing to see the big picture

It sounds like a cliché to say that when a door closes another one opens. But it’s true when it comes to job search. If and when you get rejected, don’t get too down about it. What feels like a setback now could turn out to be a blessing later. Reflect on what you’ve learned and then get back out there.

You need to keep up the momentum during your job search. Focus on the knowledge, connections and confidence you’re building through this process and keep going. The right job is out there. Ask for advice and have faith in what you have to offer. Help others when you can and doors will open for you. Good luck!

This post was originally published on the Firebrand Ideas Ignition Blog.