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The 5 Habits of a Highly Ineffective Job Seeker
Let me offer a brief preamble to acknowledge that the title of this article is in homage to the late Dr. Stephen Covey, the brilliant author of must-reads like THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE® and THE 8TH HABIT®: FROM EFFECTIVENESS TO GREATNESS. Dr. Covey’s positive messages and practical advice has been boosting the productivity of professionals in business for generations. Therefore, I’d like to humbly reveal the seven bad habits job seekers should avoid.
In the spirit of full disclosure, the executive recruiters at Strategic Recruitment Solutions, LLC, typically do not work with the “average” job seeker.
Our firm partners with top-tier professionals and executives in industries like Legal, IT, Marketing, and Business Management. And even though our core clientele generally has impeccable credentials, immense experience, and/or advanced degrees…a large segment has very little real-world practice in the fine art of searching for and landing a job. After all, top-tier professionals often rise quickly (and seemingly effortlessly) during the first few phases of their career, so the opportunities for seeking out a job on their own are rare.
Naturally, it stands to reason that high achieving professionals will regard a job search as more-less an easy, methodical task rather than a skill that must be honed. And, without the benefit of previous trial-and-error or past failures at landing a desirable job on their own, many will very quickly develop bad habits which will render their current job seeking efforts ineffective.
1. Not Listening to Expert Advice and Guidance
You don’t know what you don’t know. So, if you truly want to know, you should listen to someone who does know. I’m not suggesting you heed all advice or be swayed by all the guidance offered, but simply listening to what verifiable experts have to say can AT LEAST identify what you don’t know, and AT BEST tell you something you didn’t know.
2. Ignoring Your Online Persona
You are who the internet says you are. Before you dismiss that statement as utterly ridiculous, consider that one of the first actions an HR representative is going to do is Google your name. And the results that Google returns will define YOU, regardless of your professional achievements, your educational background, or the hundreds of hours invested in charity work.
If an initial search returns only a smattering of vague and non-relevant mentions of your name (like in an Ancestry.com listing or an archived white pages listing of an old phone number), it generally portrays you as (1) having not done anything important enough to mention in a news or blog article, or (2) someone who is intentionally trying to hide something. Neither scenario is good for a top-tier professional job seeker looking for a prime opportunity!
3. Ignoring Your Social Media Identity
Many of our core talent partners – especially in the Legal and I.T. fields – are social media averse; some consider it a waste of time and other consider it as posing undue personal and professional risks. OK, point taken. However, when searching for a new career, you may have to adapt more to the “mainstream” in order to maximize your visibility and provide a bit of transparency for potential employers evaluating your non-academic, non-technical traits.
A decent social media presence can help “populate” Google search results with relevant content…thus, helping to fix the Online Persona issue discussed above. Having active and updated social channels can also convey that you have a network of industry associates, outside interests, and actual friends. Think of social media as a “humanizing” factor for high-end professionals.
The social media platforms most beneficial to job seekers are LinkedIn and Google Plus. Your LinkedIn profile should have a considerable amount of detail, as it will be the most relevant to anyone evaluating your credentials. Be sure to add as much detail as possible on past work history, credentials, professional associations, and education. This channel also allows you to connect with industry associations and other interest-based groups without flooding your email inbox with unsolicited messages.
Google Plus (YES, Google Plus is a thing!) is an essential tool for anyone looking to gain high visibility in a job search. The simple reason is because Google Plus IS GOOGLE! Whatever is entered into the “About” section on your G+ profile gets indexed on Google within minutes! This channel is especially important for someone actively looking for a new opportunity and is not concerned that a current employer may stumble across their G+ profile. Kissmetrics has a fantastic article on how to optimize your Google + profile and page.
4. “Call to Action” is Missing in a Resume and CV
Remember that Marketing class you were forced to take Junior year? Well, now you get to put those 3 credit hours to good use because, when you’re seeking a new position, you’re selling yourself! The first chance you have to make a first impression to a potential employer is going to be in your Resume and CV.
Forget templated, boilerplate intro sentences and personal statements. No…seriously…put them completely out of your head. A true top-tier professional is expected to come strong with a unique “call to action”; a compelling argument on how you could personally add value to the company. If you are feeling bold, use that call to action as the Subject Line of the email when submitting your credentials.
5. Relying On Job Boards to Identify Opportunities
The epitome of an ineffective job seeker is someone who responds to a plethora of job listings, then sits back and waits for the job offers to come rolling in. Sure, offers occasionally pop up…but they are probably not offers fit for a professional at the top of his/her game. The listings you see on job boards are broadcast to a huge universe and generate huge responses. These responses are filtered by automated screening algorithms and make it difficult for even the most qualified candidates to get the attention they rightly deserve.
The truth is, a majority of desirable opportunities for professionals are either found through industry connections or identified through an advocate, like an executive recruiter. In either scenario, you are likely to discover opportunities that have yet to be listed. Sometimes reaching out to people in the same industry may not be in your best interest…especially if you’d like to perform a very low-key job search. In that case, partnering with a professional headhunter or an executive recruiting firm may be your best route for forging a new career path.
Whether you are an executive-level professional at the top of your field, or up-and-coming talent looking to reach the next level, a job search can quickly be stymied unless you avoid these bad habits. So if any ring true, do yourself a favor and break the bad habits before you lose out on the opportunity of a lifetime!