Networking / Work Transition

Job Search

Top 10 Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Job Search

What not to do in your job search.

What not to do in your job search.

Job Transition

I came up with my "gut level" top 10 reasons as to why people have a hard time finding a job. With as many people as I've worked with, my gut-level, practical, day-to-day real point of view, is probably pretty accurate as to why people have trouble finding jobs. The academic in me required that I research the topic. I researched 40 books on job and career change and nearly 200 articles from Google. However, I couldn't find anybody who laid it out as bluntly as I'm going to. Here are the top ten reasons why people have trouble-finding jobs :( ... drum roll, please)

1. People don't adopt a committed, passionate, "failure-is-not-an-option" attitude. Nor do they recognize that finding a job is a "numbers game." They don't make it a "job" itself! And I mean "numbers" all the way around. Massive numbers. There have to be a tremendous number of avenues for seeking interviews: friends, relatives, previous employers, previous peers, competitors and cold calling on the phone. Most people start out looking for a job with many approaches but, usually within a month or two, they are primarily only using one or two methods. It is a matter of numbers when it comes to phone calls. It is numbers when it comes to interviews.

2. People don't develop a "system" of finding a job. The system should entail everything from goals and intentions that dictate planned activity, to role-playing of interviews. Most people either decide to look for a job, or it is decided for them and they stumble around with no direction, intention or goal. They don't develop a systematic strategy that will get them what they want.

3. People have an unrealistic idea about what the market might bear for them and their skills and how long it will take. There is a tendency for people to have an over-inflated value of their ability to find a job. This is especially the case if they changed jobs previously in an expanding economy when it was easier. But even when they know the market is difficult, there is a tendency to have a "super person" mentality, you know the, "There's always room for a good employee like me." They have a very limited scope of the job market.

4. People don't acknowledge the psychological and emotional dis-ease that changing jobs entails. By denying this reality, people operate out of fear of rejection. They confuse activity with productivity and focus on minor things that appear to be job-finding activities, but aren't the most fruitful activities. The most beneficial activities that a person can take on in the job finding or job changing process are a big risk. Get used to it and get over it.

5. People don't recognize that only face-to-face interviews matter. There are all kinds of things you can do to get face-to-face interviews but you have to get them. Pulling out all stops to do anything you can do to get in front of a hiring authority with pain (the need to hire someone) is the key. And the numbers are the key here, too.

6. People interview poorly ... they don't sell themselves and don't ask for the job. The vast majority of people that go into an interviewing situation simply don't sell themselves very well. People neglect to do everything from dressing properly to focusing on what they can do for a prospective employer. People have a tendency to present themselves very poorly. Most of the time, candidates don't even know what the goal of the interviews should be.

... And people don't prepare well for interviews. Most people are not as confident in themselves or have as much self-esteem in the interviewing process simply because they don't prepare. They don't prepare presentations on themselves as to why they ought to be hired. They don't prepare presentations about what they can do for prospective employers. They don't practice their presentation to prospective employers adequately in order to give an absolutely flawless presentation of themselves. This kind of practice creates a positive attitude and confidence.

7. People interview with the attitude of, "What can you do for me?" This is the kiss of death. If you give enough reasons to an employer as to why he/she ought to hire you, what you can do for them, they will give you plenty of reasons of what they can do for you. Most people looking for a job begin by thinking that they cannot only be "selective" in what they do but actually "design" their new job around: the kind of company they want, the kind of position they want, at the kind of money they want. They aren't flexible enough in what they will consider.

8. People forget or don't realize that 97 percent of the businesses in the United States employ less than 100 people. America is not run by "big business." It is run by small groups of people who organize to provide goods and services. Although they might be "professional" companies and people, they are not professional "hirers," or professional "people-oriented" companies. Although hiring authorities act like they know what they are doing when it comes to hiring, they don't.

9. People don't approach the interviewing process with an attitude of, "If I give you enough good reasons to hire me, you will give me the best reasons you can to come work here." Most people consider interviews a "two-way street." They believe that the employer is just as responsible for selling them on the company and the job as they are selling themselves to the employer. They qualify the opportunity for themselves way before they're in a position to receive an offer. When they hold back and don't sell themselves in an aggressive, enthusiastic way, they will hardly ever get an offer. They don't realize that you have nothing to consider until you have an offer.

10. People present very poor reasons as to why they are leaving their present employer or as to why they left their last one and why they want a different one. Most people present the reasons they are looking to leave their present job or the reasons that they left their last one from totally selfish, "me-centered" points of view. They bad-mouth and criticize their present or past employers and justify their own convictions thinking that a prospective employer is going to identify with them. Employers identify with employers. Whatever you say to a prospective employer about your present or past employer, you will say about them.

written by Pam Williams

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All very valid and true reasons , great article. It amazes me how I can find people to coach who are in career transition, who have a solid job with great benefits and yet are looking for something else in this economy. I work hard at helping them identify who they are and what their passions are and lo and behold some of them, typically men, don’t have any grown-up ideas as to what they would like to be and regardless of how many test I give them, projects to work on and guidance they still have no sense of direction or ability to stay focused. Anyway, For those who are wondering why they are not happy in their present career/job can read The Top Ten Signs that you are in the Wrong Job which can be found in My Award Winning Book, The Last Box, A Women’s Guide to Surviving Corporate America. What you will also learn in my book is “who is keeping you from becoming a success at work!!! Between your article and my book, they should have a much easier time looking, finding and surviving the next career!

S. Baker — Life and Business Coach, Author & Speaker

This is a very good article. It shows how many pit falls people can have with interviews. I think going on interviews are always a learning experience and you should always go on them to keep your interviewing skills sharp. People should also research the company they are interviewing with to see if it is a good fit for them.

D. Bender — CSR

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