How to completely derail your job search in 10 simple steps

Here are things you may be doing during your job search that will ensure you don't get chosen for the role.

We frequently write about how you should move your job search forward, but what's equally valuable is what will stop it in its tracks. Without further ado, here are ten things you may be doing that will ensure you don't get the job you want (and no one wants that!)

1. Not understanding that requirements aren't always required

Have you ever found a job that sounded perfect and you simply couldn't wait to apply only to stop dead when you saw the mile-long requirements list? It's happened to all of us! Here's the thing, you don't have to meet all the requirements to apply. Requirements are more of a wish list.

Of course, there are certain proficiencies and certifications that you may need if you want to be a lead web developer or earn a role as a fire marshall, but some are more flexible. Just be sure to craft your cover letter intelligently to speak to your missing or lower experience level.

2. Sticking to job boards alone

Yes, actively posted roles are a great place to start your search, but there may be other opportunities you can explore:

Join talent communities – It is more than likely that many of your ideal companies have internal talent communities they dive into when they have a new need. Get yourself in and introduce yourself!

Contact human resources (HR) – Similar to joining a talent community, you can engage with a company even if a role isn't actively posted. One way to do this is to submit your resume to the "general interest" email or to the HR contact. What have you got to lose?

Network – Utilizing your existing supportive contacts and asking if people know of a role for you or have advice for your job search can be a natural win. However, there is a caveat ... do not engage with those people if that is the sole reason you are doing it. Insincerity is the kiss of death.

3. Side-stepping your recruiter

If you're working with a reputable recruiter, you can bet that they are already doing everything they can to present you to a target employer.

While it can be tempting to take the information you've learned about a potential employer and jump over them to further yourself, going above their head is a non-starter. It can also lead to blacklisting from both the potential employer and the agency you were working with.

4. Contacting a stranger just to get a job

There are many ways people try to get in front of hiring managers, but some of the attempts that happen on LinkedIn are quite possibly the worst. Do not try any of the following on LinkedIn or anywhere else:

  • Follow up on a job application with a person you've never met who happens to be associated with a target company.
  • Reach out to a mutual connection without permission from that connection to get ahead.
  • Try to connect with a hiring manager with the sole goal of asking about a specific role.

You should be genuinely interested in the people you connect with. Don't just try to get something from them. They won't like that and they won't like you.

5. Burning bridges

If you've been in the job market long enough, chances are that you've experienced a bad job fit. That's fine. What's not fine is airing your dirty laundry online or in a job interview with a potential employer.

While we would never ask you to lie, we do think focusing on the positive (because you can learn something from every experience) is a more sound strategy than throwing someone under the bus.

6. Deprioritizing proofreading

If you can't maintain accuracy in your cover letter and resume, also known as your first impression, how will you perform in a real workplace? Messy application materials are the first way to get an employer to yell "next!"

7. Not doing your research

Research serves job seekers well in almost all phases of the job search. You can use it to:

Write informed cover letters – Dig into the details of why you're so interested in joining the company or the role and marry it with information about you.

Answer questions in the interview – Want to look smart? Know your information before you arrive so you can bat back any curveball without breaking a sweat.

Write a tailored thank you note – One way to set yourself apart is to write a genuine cover letter that speaks directly to the company and your interview. 

Pro-tip: If you plan to send a paper note, bring it with you and fill it out immediately after your interview while the experience is fresh and drop it in the nearest mailbox so it arrives fast.

8. Having no questions prepared

There's nothing more awkward than getting to the end of an interview and suddenly ... dead silence. To avoid this, do your research as advised above, and generate questions that are thoughtful in advance.

Pro-tip: While it's okay to ask a question about benefits and compensation, try not to make it your main focus. Hiring managers want to know that you care about the position and if you're a fit, will open up more about those things later.

9. Relisting your resume in your cover letter

It may seem like highlighting your skills in a cover letter is a good idea, but it isn't! A good cover letter is more than a different format for your resume. It's your chance to highlight your personality, share special skills that aren't in other materials and address gaps in your experience head-on.

Go ahead, tell your story!

10. Omitting, faking or abusing references

References are valuable. Here are a few things you can do that will surely make you less appealing to employers.

Not preparing a list in advance – Having a list (printed and digital) to hand a recruiter or hiring manager right up front is the professional way to go.

Having your friends pose as professional references – Let's be honest, they won't be convincing and they won't be able to answer the right questions. Remember, you don't want to start a relationship with a lie.

Not asking permission – Many people will be willing to be your reference but don't ever assume. Make sure to ask in advance and provide them with information about the company that you have applied to. It will be appreciated and will prepare them to present you in the best light.

Are you guilty of any of the ten? It's okay, we all make mistakes! If you'd like to present yourself in the best possible light, apply for a role through Beacon Hill. If we feel you're a fit, our recruiters will advocate for you and make you shine.


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