Over the years, we have worked with quite a few candidates with strong resumes who just couldn’t seem to break through in the hiring process to land a job. What am I not doing? What am I doing wrong? Candidates who ask for this feedback get it, and it usually helps. If you are presently looking for a new position, you may relate to some degree of this frustration yourself. Many job hunters get in their own way by making these common mistakes:
1. Expressing Overconfidence
A resume and LinkedIn profile may contain all of the requisite skills an employer seeks, but a seemingly minor slip-up in a cover letter or interview may negate them by exposing a potential character flaw. Confidence is appreciated, but claims like “My qualifications make me the perfect fit…” or “I am certain that you will agree…” express a me-first cockiness. Speak in tactful terms like “I feel confident that I could help…” Even a hint of arrogance suggests a risk that you will not be a good collaborator and team player. This is the age of narcissism; candidates who give reason for concern sabotage themselves.
2. Dwelling on Disappointments
Not getting an offer after going through multiple rounds of interviews and being told you had ideal qualifications is disappointing. But don’t wallow in resentment, imagining what the reason might have been (e.g., nepotism, discrimination, failure to remember your accomplishments). Instead, take inspiration from the New England Patriots. After losing to the Eagles in Superbowl LII, they took stock and regrouped to win LIII. Had they chosen to simmer about a bad call or odd bounce of the ball, they never would have rebounded to accomplish their objective. Talk with someone you trust after a disappointing job hunt experience and try to find out what you can do to improve yourself as a job candidate. A recruiter can help.
3. Not Using Recruiters
Networking is critical to your job hunt and career success. If you believe the axiom that it’s who you know, then there may be no better way to expand your reach than to work with a qualified recruiter in your field. Established recruiters like the Imprimis Group have working relationships with leading employers. This provides candidates access to positions that are not on job boards, attracting resumes by the thousands. Recruiters have intimate knowledge of how a client company operates and are experts in finding the right employment fits. For the right candidate, they go to bat, and that representation is often a difference-maker. It’s similar to having a referral from inside the company. Beyond that, recruiters help candidates to fine-tune resumes, cover letters, and portfolios. They often provide valuable interviewing and post-interview tips because they have a vested interest in your outcome.
4. Touting Irrelevant Skills and Not Emphasizing the Most Relevant Skills
If you have ever been single during the age of internet dating, you have probably learned a valuable lesson. It’s not who you are or what you can do that matters; it’s how you match. You may be a terrific public speaker, but if an accounting position doesn’t require you to speak in front of audiences, your time explaining this is wasted. Your opportunity to state your case is limited. Use it to emphasize only skills that are highly relevant to the job description. Avoid cluttering your resume and cover letter with extraneous information, and save your French fluency for your vacation in Nice.
5. Being Too Aggressive in Negotiations
There are good reasons why athletes, entertainers, and high net worth professionals employ agents. Agents know the true value of their clients and understand market values from employers’ perspectives. They come from a non-emotional perspective that enables them to calibrate their strategy to optimistic, yet realistic expectations. Everyday job candidates can employ this same perspective when representing themselves. Consider the numbers of applicants with similar skills and abilities and be assertive, but not overly aggressive. An uncompromising candidate gives the employer a chance to dodge a bullet, or at believe they did. We’ve seen many a hire needlessly sabotaged at this stage.
These are among the most common ways job candidates sabotage themselves, but there are plenty of others. If you’ve got great experience and skills, but you’re falling short of your objectives, talk to us. There may be something you’re doing – something correctable – that we can pinpoint to make a difference in your job hunt.