What not to do when looking for a job

1. Send out applications en masse

This seems so obvious but who among us has not seen the generic application letter? It is the quickest way into oblivion. You don’t need to use perfume on your letterhead, or adorn your cover letter with flowery swirls. You want to get noticed but it needs to be for the right reason. The generic application is one that is unlikely to be read by you and if that’s the case, you certainly can’t expect anyone else to either. So tailor it to the individual reader and make it distinct.

2. Contact people you don’t know and expect them to give you a referral

I would not dream of reaching out to people I have not met and asking them to give me a referral or to recommend me. Firstly, on what basis would I do so? Secondly, why would you consider asking someone who doesn’t know you professionally to undertake something like this? Yet, I have encountered people who believe that this is a good strategy.

3. Rely on an outdated, boring resume

There’s LinkedIn  profiles, video resumes, online resumes and now, even the Prezume. We are far more responsive to visual stimuli than to text. If technology and the world of work now makes it possible for us to connect, to impress and to present ourselves, with much more ease and impact, we should take that cue and do the needful. Bin the word doc and get yourself out there in a truly significant, impactful manner. Because you owe it to yourself.

4. Call in favours

If you want to get that job because you called in a favour, remember two things. Firstly, did you get your job the best way you should have and for the right reasons? Secondly, someday, that favour will need to be repaid. Would you be willing to pay the price?

5. Be careless about how you brand yourself

If you use social media, if you work with computers, smart phones and tablets and if you’ve put your profile out there on the internet, you have a digital footprint. This footprint covers the links you have clicked on, what you’ve searched for on the internet, things you’ve ‘liked’, places you’ve visited or given feedback about, your location, your IP address, what you’ve said and what’s been said of you.

Typically, there’s two choices. One is to monitor how you are presenting yourself and what you discuss so that you are painstakingly aware of how this is represented. You do this to project an image of who you are and to ensure that the myriad representations out there do as intended. The other is to just dive right in and let it be what it may. Some view their Facebook profiles and social activities as quite distinct – what they do in their personal space and time is theirs and should not be used to judge them. But the fact remains that while some may or may not agree, your activities, profile and footprint present you in a certain light. So, it’s far better to be in control of how that is presented.

6. Be sloppy about how you communicate

How you communicate gives people an impression of who you are. And a sloppy presentation will only tell badly on you. Check phraseology, nuances, typos and edit. Cull, cull, cull because less is more. And when in doubt, leave it out.

7. Make claims you can’t back up

If there’s a way to find out, it will be done. So if you want to make claims, ensure it’s something solid you are relying on or it will come back to bite you.

8. Be uncertain about what you want to do and where you want to go

We don’t always want to start out hearing about your goals. Asking people about whether they are an achiever may not yield honest answers. Maybe, these are not really good indicators of your personality either. The truth is that any interview-savvy applicant can answer questions without giving the interviewer a clue about the truth. Nevertheless, you need to be led by your over-riding goal. You need to be clear about what you’d like to achieve. It makes you look like you have a sense of purpose and drive.

9. Be unprofessional

You’ll never win if you go there. Don’t rat on anyone. Don’t complain or moan about your ex-colleague. Don’t whine about the last place you worked at. It says more about you than about them.

10. Give up

It’s a long, slow process. You do this for the journey as much as for the destination. Giving up is therefore, not an option. Unless you plan on becoming an entrepreneur which requires a completely different mindset.

11.  Be disinterested in the company you’re applying to

There’s some baseline stuff you should know. Take an interest, google the company, ask around, talk. You’re bound to discover useful information. You can use it to show the company that you’ve made an effort. You can also use it to make your final decision when the time comes.

12. Take shortcuts

Lastly, and probably the most important, don’t expect that you can gain anything useful with shortcuts. Do the work, put in the time.

The rewards will come to those who do what they need to, to get to where they want to be.

Next post : If not this, then what? What you should do when looking for a job.

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About rowena morais

Media Communications and Editorial Specialist. With my strong professional network of contacts, I help individuals and organisations, particularly those within Human Resource and Technology, strengthen their skill-base and brand through compelling writing, beautiful design, content marketing and publishing. Let's talk.

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