I’ve received so many requests for more of the “most common mistakes made by job seekers”, I thought I’d better throw a few more your way. Here goes:
You commit the granddaddy of all job hunting errors when you take yourself out of the running by time wasting, over-thinking, and under-selling.
You waste time when you spend all your time planning your search and expend no time implementing it. (These are the folks who spend their days and nights making endless lists, organizing and reorganizing, alphabetizing and cross checking, writing and rewriting, all in an effort to avoid making the call, knocking on the door, and otherwise taking the proverbial bull by the horns and making something happen.)
You over-think when you over-worry what your references might say, what the job might entail, what a move might be like, and what your in- laws and neighbors and friends might assume about you if you can’t get a job pdq. Over-thinking results in under-deciding. Instead of gaining ground you’re stuck in an endless loop of data gathering ruminations of what-if’s, why-not’s, and not-yet’s.
You under-sell yourself and your proven abilities when your confidence is shot, your self esteem takes a hike, and your will to overcome negative self-talk, won’t.
It takes a spirit of adventure to look for a job. It takes self- awareness to find a good match. It takes courage to ask yourself, and others, tough questions about your abilities, and it takes grit to listen to candid answers. It takes courage to ask for the job that’s right for you. It takes courage to persist when bad timing and bad luck appear to conspire against you.
The spirit of adventure. You have to be more than an arm- chair traveler if you hope to capitalize on job opportunities that are right for you. Timing is everything. Over reliance on internet monster boards and published want ads can lull you into a believing that you’re proactive in your search, when, in fact, you’re stuck in a persistent cycle of hide and seek and wait and see.
Self awareness and a healthy self concept enable you to answer, without pause, that dastardly “Tell me about yourself” question; the question that typically ranks in the top ten of a job applicant’s “please don’t ask me” list.
When you know your core values, your strengths, and learned abilities, where you want to work and what you want to do, you can respond to any interview question knowing that what you’re saying is true and accurate, for you.
In fact, open-ended questions that look so simple and sound so innocent, are. Answer them by focusing on why you’re sitting across from the individual who’s doing all the asking. Tell her (or him) what you want in a job, what you’re best at doing, and how you make a difference to the company and the people with whom you work.
Then pause, smile, and Mr. Jones or Ms. Smith will ask the next question. That’s what they do.
Courage. Successful job seekers get the jobs they go after because they have the courage to take calculated risks. They’ve done their homework: they know what they do well, and know how they add value to organizations that need and want what they have to offer. They’re willing to ask questions, to be sure that what they think they’re signing up for is what in fact they’ll get.
Successful job seekers know what they’re about, having learned life’s lessons from good times and bad. They know the kinds of bosses who bring out the best in them, and which ones who bring out the beast. They know that a company’s culture influences everyone’s sense of self, defines team play, and determines how the game is played.
They’ve lost good jobs and won bad jobs and suffered through jobs that did little more than put food on the table, and were thankful to have food to put on the table. Throughout, they did their best, worked their hardest, learned as much as they could, all while realizing that work isn’t life, it’s what pays for what we need, while we’re living it.