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Friday
Mar132015

10 Mistakes That Are Standing Between You and Your Dream Job

The process of job hunting is tough. It’s not only hard on your wallet, it’s hard on your self-esteem. When you’ve sent out dozens of resumes and landed multiple interviews, all without success, it’s hard not to get discouraged.

At this point, you may start to rationalize your lack of employment by blaming outside influences:

“It’s a tough market right now.”

“There aren’t currently many opportunities in my field.”

“There’s too much competition for too few jobs.”

But the truth is, there are people getting hired in your field. Even if the market istough right now, it’s very likely there’s something you’re doing—or not doing—to lessen your chances of getting hired.

Here are 10 reasons why you may not be getting the job.

1. You’re Not Being Proactive

Are you sitting around waiting for the perfect job to fall into your lap? Successful job seekers know they need to be proactively pursuing jobs and leads and actively strategizing their job search.

Do you have the necessary skills for your dream job? If not, take an online course to upgrade your skill set. Are you well connected in your field? If the answer is no, attend industry networking groups or events.

Research shows a correlation between having a proactive personality and career success. Researchers have found that this proactivity—the belief that you have the power to change your circumstances—is positively associated with achieving salary and promotion objectives as well as increased career satisfaction.

In other words, if you believe you have the power and ability to achieve your career goals, you’re far more likely to succeed. If you believe the world is conspiring against you and you’re powerless to do anything about it, you’re more likely to stay right where you are now—jobless.

2. Your Lack of Passion Shows

If you find yourself applying for positions that don’t excite you, don’t be surprised if potential employers sense this lack of passion. Employers know that skills can always be taught, but that passion is either there or it’s not.

If you’re truly excited about a job, be sure to convey this in your cover letter and interview. Explain your reasons for wanting the position, and share ideas you’ll be excited to explore should you get the job.

3. You Don’t Sell Yourself

If there’s ever a time to sell yourself, it’s when you’re job hunting. If you don’t clearly convey your skills, knowledge, and education, it’s no one’s fault but your own if you don’t get the job.

There’s a fine line between being cocky and confident, so make sure you’re always tempering your confidence with humility. Sharing past accomplishments conveys pride in your work, while going on and on about how educated you are screams “smug.”

4. Your Resume or CV Doesn’t Showcase Your Value to the Company

Your resume is what’s going to get your foot in the door. If it isn’t accurately showcasing your suitability for the job, you’ll never get the chance to impress in an interview. Some best practices for creating a killer resume include:

  • Keep it short (some experts recommend only 600-700 words)
  • List all relevant skills and work history
  • Tweak your resume for each position you apply for
  • Detail how you can bring value to the company
  • Be specific: If you’ve achieved certain goals in past jobs, don’t be afraid to quantify your accomplishments (e.g., raised $2 million in funding in one year).

5. You Haven’t Researched the Job or Company

Employers want to know you took the time to learn a bit about the company. Not knowing the name of the CEO or where head office is could convey that you’re disinterested or even lazy. Take some time before the interview to research the company online. Employers don’t expect you to know all the company’s inner workings, but you should have a good grasp of publically available information.

6. You Conveyed a Sense of Entitlement at the Interview

It’s never a good idea to go into an interview with a list of demands. Having a general salary expectation is expected, but requiring six weeks of vacation from the get-go? This can be a huge red flag for employers. After all, if you’re this demanding in the interview, how much more demanding will you be once you have the job?

7. You’re Overqualified or Underqualified

This is perhaps one of the biggest issues for chronic job seekers. Are you consistently applying for your dream job even though your experience and education don’t really make you a dream candidate? Or maybe you’re desperate for a job (any job!) and are willing to take something (anything!), even jobs well below your pay grade? Ask yourself honestly whether you’re aiming too high—or too low—and adjust your expectations accordingly.

8. You’re Not Connected in Your Industry

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This has never been truer, especially in today’s competitive job market. According to research compiled by Interview Success Formula, while there were 3.6 million job openings in the U.S. in 2012, 80% of these were never advertised. This indicates that employers were likely looking internally and among their current sphere of connections to find suitable candidates.

If you aren’t already, make sure you’re putting yourself out there by regularly attending conferences, networking groups, and industry events. You never know whom you’ll meet!

9. You’re Just Not That Likable

You can be the most qualified person for the job, but if your interviewer just plain doesn’t like you, you don’t stand a chance. Some tips for making the best first impression possible include:

  • Smiling often (when appropriate)
  • Being a great listener (don’t interrupt!)
  • Asking thoughtful questions
  • Not bragging or being overly confident
  • Being talkative and expressive without dominating the conversation
  • Using open body language

In the book Screw the Zoo, author Sam McRoberts outlines several chapters of insightful hacks that delve into the psychology of body language, eye contact, posture, smiling, and confidence.

10. You’re Sending the Wrong Impression

Your interview is your one chance to impress a potential employer. Are you doing any of the following, which could send the wrong impression?

  • Arriving too early or too late
  • Dressing inappropriately (better to err on the side of being too dressy)
  • Joking around too much or being sarcastic (there’s a time for sarcasm, but that time isn’t during an interview!)
  • Asking about the salary too soon in the interview (leave this until last)
  • Not showing any personality
  • Appearing bored or disinterested during the interview

If you’ve been job hunting for a while, it may be time to take a step back and ask yourself what you could be doing wrong. If you’re brave enough, email a past interviewer and ask why you didn’t get the job—while knowing the truth can be hard, it may help you in the long run.

Source: Jayson Demers of Inc. (https://www.themuse.com/advice/10-mistakes-that-are-standing-between-you-and-your-dream-job)

Tuesday
Sep232014

THE #1 SOFT SKILL EVERY JOB SEEKER SHOULD HAVE

softskills_Sept2014_web

When employers evaluate potential employees they look at two different skills sets – the applicant’s hard skills and the applicant’s soft skills. The hard skillsyou possess are skills you’ve acquired through education and experience, skills like your ability to operate a machine or a computer, for example. The second set of skills employers look at is your soft skills.

Soft skills include skills like how well you communicate with others or how well you manage your time. They are generally considered more subjective but are equally, if not more important, than the hard skills you have.

Every time you communicate with a potential employer whether it’s through your cover letter, resume, during the interview, or in your follow up, you are revealing some of your soft skills. But which ones help you stand out from other applicants?

The Top Five Soft Skills
In a recent survey of 115 Express franchises across the nation, Express found that the top five most important soft skills employers look for are:

  1. Dependability
  2. Communication
  3. Commitment
  4. Motivation
  5. Initiative

For the second year in a row, dependability was considered the most important soft skill to have.  Employers need to put a lot of trust in their employees, so they need people they can count on no matter what. You can teach people hard skills, but soft skills like dependability have more to do with who you are (your character) than what you know.

Demonstrating Your Dependability to Potential Employers
If dependability is the top soft skill employers are looking for, then it’s important to make sure you exhibit your reliability during the application and interview process. Here are some ways to do just that:

1. Update Your Resume and Cover Letter
Because resumes and cover letters are an important part of getting an interview it’s very important to ensure your resume illustrates your dependability as much as possible. Employers will look for signs of your dependability like the time spent at each job and the projects you were tasked with. You can emphasize your dependability in your resume and cover letter by using words like consistent, diligent, reliable, persistent, and improved.

2. Give Examples During Your Interview
If you go on to an interview, be sure to have some examples prepared of times that you went above and beyond the call of duty at work.  Whether you helped a coworker out or solved a problem for the company, think of times when your past employers relied on you and be prepared to share those examples in your interview.

It’s also important to remember that dependability isn’t just about what you do in difficult or big situations. It’s about what you do in the everyday, small things that matters most, like showing up to work early every day. With that in mind, remember that it’s so important to show up to your interview on time because that too will be a demonstration of your dependability to an employer.

If an employer asks you when you’d be available to work and you’re currently employed at another company, be sure to let them know that out of respect, you want to give your current company the standard two week notice. They would want the same courtesy shown to them if the tables were turned, so this is just another way you can demonstrate your reliability.

If they ask you not to share information about their interview process for privacy or security reasons, as tempting as it may be to talk about it with your friends and family, be sure to respect their wishes and keep it to yourself. You never know how it could get back to someone if you’re not careful. The more trustworthy you are in the small things, the more trustworthy you will be in the big things.

3. Your Follow Up
After the interview, if you were assigned a task or project to submit as an example of your work, be sure to complete it as soon as possible and get it back to the perspective employer on time. This is an important opportunity to display your hard and soft skills at the same time.

These are just a few of the ways you can demonstrate your dependability to an employer. Share some of the ways you demonstrate your dependability in the comments section below.