Looking for a new job or new career can be a daunting task and many people have no idea where to start or how to go about it. Many of the candidates I work with haven’t sat for an interview since the end of their undergraduate days, when firms and companies would contact them. Unfortunately, there are many “no-nos” that candidates do that need to be pointed out.
1 – Update your LinkedIn profile all at once: So, you have a bare-bones LinkedIn profile with your name, your title, and your current employer. All of a sudden you populate it with your full list of responsibilities, your professional designations, your graduation year, new recommendations, and a professional career summary. This is a red flag to your current employer that you are thinking about making a change. Either slowly build up your LinkedIn profile over weeks and months, or change your privacy settings so it isn’t visible to your network.
2 – Apply to every single job that comes along: It is fine to be open to a number of different options, but by applying to dozens and dozens of jobs, you simply water down the value of your resume. Even worse is when you apply to a job but it is obvious that the email and submission have not been tailored to that job at all.
3 – Apply on-line to the “black hole”: Applying through a company’s online portal is necessary at times. However, use this as a last resort. Try to research people in your network to see if they know anyone who works at the company already. It is way better to send your resume directly to an actual person (or two, or three) than applying through an online portal where you have no idea who is on the other end reviewing the applications. Some postings receive hundreds of applicants. Do you want to run the risk of a junior person missing your resume?
4 – Use “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sir / Madam”: Many of the jobs that ZSA and other companies recruit for are posted on-line and have the names and titles of the contact people directly on them. Anyone who doesn’t address the person by name or, god forbid, misspells the name of the recipient, has either poor attention to detail or, worse, is lazy. This is what we call “starting off on the wrong foot”.
5 – Forget to use your network: In Canada and the US, anywhere between 60 – 80% of all jobs (depending on the seniority), are filled through one of your own connections. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep in touch with the people from your previous companies, the people you used to play squash or go running with, your classmates from your undergrad or graduate-level class, and your friends.
There is a reason why agency recruiters, like myself, have full time jobs; looking for a job and landing a job isn’t easy. Hopefully the next time you start looking, you will avoid these slip-ups.