If you’re a recent grad and still looking for work, you may have come to the sobering realization that the rules have changed. In today’s tough job market, you have to pull out all the stops. And that means avoiding things that can sabotage your job search. So how are you torpedoing your hunt for work?
Failure to exploit a referral. You may have heard that one of the most effective ways to land a job is through an employee referral. Big companies like Ernst & Young increasingly use internal staff to find new hires. In fact, employee recommendations now account for 45 percent of non-entry-level placements at the firm. But these days, it takes more than just hearing about a job through a friend who works at the company you’re eager to work for. You need to fully leverage the referral by dropping his or her name during your interview. You should also encourage your friend to shepherd your resume to the hiring manager and, in some cases, endorse you via an email or phone call. Don’t have a friend at the company? Make one. Attend a seminar, conference or open presentation and schmooze. And don’t just hand out your business card. Build a strong professional relationship with the person.
Failure to analyze the job posting. Many job applicants jump the gun when they read a job posting. A new study by TheLadders revealed that most job applicants spend less than 60 seconds going over a job posting. So don’t be so quick to respond. Read the job posting carefully. “Google” the company to see who they are, what they make or the service they provide. Get a feel for their corporate culture. Do the due diligence to determine if they’re a good fit for you.
Failure to go beyond job postings. Most good jobs, as you’ve heard countless times before, aren’t advertised. So why are you still poring over ads posted in newspapers and online sites? Strategy consultant Dorie Clark believes the people with the most interesting careers literally invented their jobs. In her new book, Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future, Clark underscores the importance of re-inventing yourself to ensure that others recognize the contributions you can make. She adds that job seekers need to take charge of their professional careers by building a personal brand, one that reflects what they have to offer an employer. That means writing professional articles, giving presentations at conferences and seminars—whatever it takes to get a professional audience to connect you with an achiever and “comer” in the field.
Failure to “get real” about salary. Many job postings and salary guidelines sites will list the top salaries for a job. This is done to attract readership and get a large pool of applicants. Many job applicants ask for these “top” salaries and immediately take themselves off the short list of candidates. The key is not to be too eager or too early when it comes to salary. The ideal time for talking salary is when you’re “the last man standing” and you get the job offer, advises Dr. Randall S. Hansen, founder of Quintessential Careers. And don’t focus on what you feel you need or deserve; instead, focus on your value and the value you bring to the prospective employer, adds Hansen.
Eager to get that primo job? Stop torpedoing your chances and get to work.
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