Career Corner: The Job Seeking Mistakes We Make

Do not discount the value of networking when looking for a job. – Courtesy photo

By Angela Copeland

Job searching is hard work. That saying “getting a job is a job” couldn’t be truer than it is right now. I hear from job seekers every day who are struggling, and rightfully so. But, it may not be for the reasons they think.

When I ask a job seeker what it is that’s causing problems with their job search, they typically know the answer right away. First, they’re over qualified. They are too old. They studied the wrong thing in school. They wonder if they need to get a new haircut, go back to school, and change careers completely. A new haircut never hurt anyone but let’s take a deeper look.

The next questions I typically ask the job seeker are these: How are you applying for jobs? How many jobs have you applied to lately?

Very often, I learn that the job seeker is applying online. It’s the only way they’re looking for a job, and it’s the only way they’re applying. So, although ageism is real, it’s possible the company doesn’t know their age because they’ve never even seen the person’s application.

I know that companies tell job seekers, “Apply online. If you’re a good fit we’ll call you.” It’s just not true. Sure, sometimes miracles happen. But, it’s not the norm.

Think of it this way. If you were hiring someone, how would you go about finding that person? Would you want to sort through 200 resumes that were submitted on the internet by strangers? I bet that you would ask around. You’d ask the people that you know if they are interested, or if they know anyone who is interested.

In order for applying online to work as designed, a number of things need to go smoothly. First, the online system would need to be smart enough to find the best applicants. Then, the HR recruiter would have to be knowledgeable enough about the role to select the best candidates to screen. Then, the hiring manager (the future boss) would have to trust the judgment of the HR recruiter. And, the hiring manager would have to rely on the online process to screen for candidates. This is a lot that has to go right!

Instead of relying on the online process, become someone the company knows. Network with people who work at the company. Ask for coffee meetings. Talk to friends who have connections at the company. Locate the hiring manager and send them a message on LinkedIn.

And, whatever you do – apply to many jobs. The likelihood that you’ll get hired after you apply for a job is less than 5%. Applying to only five or 10 jobs is not likely to result in a job offer.

Before you decide why you aren’t being selected, be sure that you aren’t completely relying on the online process, and that you’re applying to many jobs at the same time.

Angela Copeland, a career expert and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.