Job hunting isn’t easy. It’s a long and winding road where each step can feel like legitimate progress, while roadblocks can make you feel like your search has stagnated. Some of those roadblocks are self-inflicted. You may be making easily avoidable mistakes, and all it takes is a change in your mindset.
Here are three big job search pitfalls and the steps you can take to avoid them:
Being too laid back
Do you treat the job search as an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation? Are you spending a day each week on sending out a few applications and leaving your career in the hands of employers who may never respond?
This sort of attitude can severely slow down your progress towards a new gig. Job seeking isn’t solely about finding a job listing, researching a company, and applying. It involves keeping your skills sharp by reading articles and advice blogs in your field or taking classes to learn new methodologies, networking and meeting new people who might be able to help you, and staying on your game with your application status. It may mean a coffee meeting on a Sunday or a dinner with an old colleague on a Friday.
Days off are important for your job search and your personal health, as they help you refocus and reevaluate your progress over the course of your hunt and regain your energy for the coming days. Especially if your last role was particularly stressful, spending some time recharging your batteries can be a great way to revitalize your career. But turning your process into a five-day weekend with two days of work looking for new opportunities doesn’t lead down a path to success.
Every day can be a job search day, even if you don’t send an application. Even weekends are great job seeking days, when you can prepare applications so you can apply first thing Monday morning. Apply as soon as possible for brand new job openings to get to the top of the pile.
Hustle for your job search by sticking to a regular schedule. Spend a bit of time each day applying, learning a new skill, researching companies, finding new job opportunities, or even just reading. This will keep your work ethic strong and make the transition from job seeker to employee a breeze. Take time off if you feel burned out by the search - a week-long vacation can do wonders for your motivation. And when you’re feeling rested and ready, get right back into the job hunt in earnest.
Waiting, waiting, waiting
So you sent out three applications on Monday, another three on Wednesday, and wrapped up your week by researching a bunch of companies and opportunities over the weekend. Awesome!
But don’t forget that there are other things you need to do to be a successful job seeker. A job seeker that sits and waits for opportunity to land in their lap tends to spend a lot more time on the hunt than they need to. Instead of playing the waiting game, approach your job search proactively.
Don’t let things like online application systems, resume black holes, and automated “Thank you for your application” emails stop you from making progress. Keep track of your applications and send follow up emails when appropriate to ask for your status in the hiring process. If a company isn’t hiring for someone with your skills, reach out regardless if you see a niche for yourself. Network with fellow professionals in your field, especially ones that have gotten to where you’d like to be in five or ten years, learning from them and sharing your experiences.
And most importantly, learn from your mistakes and rejections. No answers to any of your applications? Tweak your resume and better-customize your cover letter for each company. Messed up in an interview? Practice with a job search buddy so you’ll be better prepared for the tough questions next time. Take every “no” as an opportunity to gather insights on how your job search process can be improved.
Once you land the job (congrats!) you might think it’s time for your job hunt to wrap up. You sent emails to recruiters, references, friends, and family that helped you along the way, informing them of your success and thanking them for their support. You updated your social media profiles with your new role. You eagerly started your first day and are already killing it for your new company. It’s time for the hunt to end, right?
Not quite! In the modern working world, it’s important to always be looking. You don’t have to be an active job seeker by any means. You don’t have to continue looking for job openings and sending out your resume to companies you like. But you should always be aware of the opportunities available to you and the shifts in the job market for your field and industry, even when after you land a new job.
Do it quietly, do it respectfully, and keep up the enthusiasm and excitement with your new employer. But always understand that future opportunity comes to those who put in the effort today. Career change happens often, and always being in job search mode makes the transition between having a job and looking for one quick and smooth.
Keep building your professional network, nurture the relationships you built during your job hunt, and stay in touch with people you met at companies you applied to or networked with. You never know who you might be able to help find their next job, and who might be able to help you make your next career move.