Three Major Missteps That Could Jeopardize Your Job Search

job-search-mistakesSomeone reached out to me today, frustrated that he had applied to multiple job postings with limited results. When this occurs, the knee-jerk reaction is to blame the resume for the lack of responses, but the résumé is only effective if you have a strong search strategy to accompany the document.

After further examination, I uncovered that there are three major flaws in this person's posting strategy.

1. Applying for positions in a geography where you do not reside.

Employers are skeptical of applicants from geographies other than the one where the opportunity is. Many aren't interested in paying relocation expenses -- and with so many applicants to choose from, it's easy to eliminate someone who doesn't reside in the same geography. If you are planning to relocate, make this clear on both your resume and cover letter so the employer knows you plan to settle down in that area. This strategy won't guarantee that you will be considered, but it can improve your chances.

2. Having less experience than the job specification requires.

Hiring managers screening applicants who have responded to a job posting are generally not that flexible on this dimension. If they say that you need a minimum of three-five years of experience for the job and you have two, they probably won't pay much attention to your resume because they are bound to have dozens or even hundreds of applicants with the years of experience they are asking for.

3. Lacking the technical expertise specified on the job posting.

Again, employers who are screening applicants based on a job posting are looking for specific competencies; if they are not listed on your resume, it is easy for them to pass you over.

The bottom line is that employers who post on job boards are looking for exact matches. They are often using scanning software to screen applicants for geography, years of experience, and technical competencies. If you can't match the majority of the requirements listed on the job spec, don't bother applying; it's not a good use of your time or the employer's.

In general, the statistics on the number of people in search who land their jobs through job boards are quite low: somewhere between 2-10 percent. Spend only a small amount of time on the job boards and dedicate more of your time and energy to meeting people who can help you get in front of the right decision-makers for your search. You want people to get to know you -- the whole person; not just the resume. Once you establish a relationship with an influencer or decision maker, you can often move past the rigidity of a job spec and be considered for positions where there is not an exact match.

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I am applying for positions outside of where I live, and would love to move. How do I "make this clear" on my resume' and/or cover letter? I'm afraid I'll make it sound like I'm looking for any job in that area so that I CAN relocate.

July 26 2010 at 9:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I feel really connected to what is going on in here with these people and their comments. I look back after losing everything...savings, career, benefits, retirement, place to live...etc and look at the day it all ended. Namely auto company this my problem? I now bounce from one rented bedroom to another...tolerating hostil drunk roomates or no air conditioning in 90+ degree days weeks on end. Some days a simply Ramen noodle pack is all i get to eat as a 180 pound - no fat 46 year old man. I ask..."After honorably serving America in the military, getting two college degrees, and doing award winning work on a job...this is where it ends?? My stuff is in storage...what's left of it - I had to sell 70% of what I own just to survive. Now I ran out of things to sell...and I am on the verge of malnurishment and homelessness. I am very well educated and a motivated worker with a proven good character record...and I get nothing. I see people from countries all over the world: China, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Mexico, Germany, Argentina, Canada, India, Italy, Korea and my home town...They are all very successful and making a good living (like I used to). Maybe if I get lucky..they'll offer me a few bucks...letting me shovel their snow, mow their lawn or wash their bathroom? You're better off coming here from another country in regards to treatment & opportunity = good public relations for America ("Land of opportunity & freedom.") What about those of us who were born here?? and served here?? We are set to become foriegners nameless starving, homeless servants. What's more is our own American HR offices are responsible for creating and enabling this trend. (I bet there is not a veteran among them)

July 24 2010 at 10:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

You hit the nail on the head Barry. Finding a job is a fulltime job in itself. So, when you are, save, save in case of problems and also look for better opportunities as well! Also, pray. Have Faith. for without Faith, we are all done for anyway. God bless you all and I pray you get the job of your dreams!

July 24 2010 at 3:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Then we have the problem of illegal aliens. Too many people hire them because most Americans cannot afford to live on what they pay! The illegals will work hard for any money. That is going to be the end of America as we know it. The job market is bad enough as it is...and now we have to compete with outsiders. I am a nurse and even though jobs are advertised, they do not hire you just because you have a nursing degree. They too, want more than a degree. Also...the hospitals bring in nurses from India and other countries which make it harder for American nurses to get work. Then if you make a little more than you did as a cashier before you went to nursing school, the Government takes it in taxes! feel punished for trying to get that education to make life better for your family. As it stands now, the economy is hard! Lots of us out of work and it just may get worse! Brace yourselves. We may all be picking out a spot under an overpass at the freeway!

July 24 2010 at 3:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So basically, dont try to find a job based on merit, just kiss *** and rely on what is essentailly nepotism? Yay for the US where every one has an equal opportunity...if you know the right people. So much for college students with no experience or connections...guess were only qualified to clean toilets. This advice is baloney. Waste of my time? Takes me seconds. And why should i care about the employers time if they wont consider my resume? This writer isnt living in reality

July 24 2010 at 2:53 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brian's comment

brian...finding a job based on who you know has always been the american way. yes, i meant that both ironically and cynically. it may be more common in other countries and systems based on their lack of opportunities, but it does account for a significant number of job fillings here. i can account for at least three jobs i've had in the past where knowing someone in the company played a role in my hire.

now, you can either fight this reality or use it as a means of getting a job. if i were you, i'd promote employee networking for precisely that reason. the job you find may be your own.

you know, if i had the energy, i think this is a business that needs to be created. call it an inverse corporate recruiter, where jobs are known based on information gathered by employees through social networking, not the company hr department. maybe it can be modeled on labron james, where the employee chooses who he wants to work with and for...but on a much lower scale. with companies embracing the "team" concept, let's see how far they are willing to take it.

July 24 2010 at 3:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

one thing you learn pretty quickly about looking for a job. that is, without an address, a computer (with proper software) and a working phone number, you are finished before you begin. this has become a major reason why the longer one is unemployed, the more likely they will remain so. the longer one is unemployed, the less likely they will possess these things.

as this is my second comment, let me add one last thing. the truth is, most of us know better. this isnt the first time we've been in this situation. the mistake we make is that once finding employment, we stop looking. and i understand why. looking for work has become a humiliating experience and we we associate with desperation. we depend on people that have all the leverage to offer us something we would otherwise avoid. the moral is, if you are lucky enough to find something, never stop your personal job search. this gives you time to consider what is in your own best interest. blaming recruiters who work on commission or hr departments more concerned about their own asses than that of the interviewee, is really a waste of time in the big picture.

job searching is a full time activity regardless if you are employed or not. it's time more of us learned that lesson even if/when the economy improves.

July 24 2010 at 2:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i've been in the same boat with most of you that have commented. and for those of you like me that have been out of work for several months with no one to alleviate the loss of income and depression, i understand desperate circumstances.

however, my recent good luck in finding two full time jobs seems to reflect a correct strategy and one i want to share. first, acknowledge you will work longer hours to earn a livable income. believe me, at 58, this is a hard lesson to deal with. second, you'll find most companies understand the reality of their wages and willing to work with you so you can work both jobs. third, in order to survive, recognize that everything you have accumulated is only a thing. if it has any material value, sell it for food and shelter. and then recognize if you ever get back to your pre unemployment position, buying for investment is meaningless because when it is sold, it is usually done under duress and desperation. you'll seldom get back what you put into it. attaching personal feelings to any investment or gift only makes it that much harder to deal with your reality.

July 24 2010 at 2:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I could not agree more. I graduated top of my college class in December 2009. 4.0 the entire four years. I've even done networking and have some good connections, but I still haven't been able to find a job.

All I hear, is "You're not qualified enough or you don't have enough experience."

Four and a half years, 2 college degree's, and almost 100,000 in debt later and I'm no better off than I was when I graduated high school. I think the local grocery store is hiring for minimum wage and I'm about to take that offer. Just what my mother sacrificed for.

July 24 2010 at 1:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Amanda's comment

Here, here Amanda. Isn't this nice? We bust our asses with a college education plus enough debt to last our grandchildren a lifetime yet, we are UNEMPLOYED. Hmmmm, that is a wonderful image, isn't it? My experience is more fun, I worked hard to obtain a difficult engineering degree but not having 5 years experience, makes me unqualified. I wonder how, we are supposed to get the experience when these brute idiotic, below average IQ hiring managers, dismiss your resume.

It will be a wonderful turn of events when the economy stabilizes and WE shall be walking out of our employers. Imagine, hunting for another job just days after getting your first one and walking out the minute a higher paying job pops up. Now would it not be fun when, mid-project you tell your current employer to go to hell? Oh yes, the future look of job-hopping. Wow, now that would be a sight.

July 24 2010 at 2:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Wow, times are tough aren't they... I have not worked for 3 years and been turned down when applying for jobs about 2 dozen times. I'm an honorably discharged veteran, have a BFA from a world recognized art & design college, Art Center and worked over 10 years in great jobs gaining experience that was second to none. BUT... I found it easier to get a job before I had any of these qualifications back in the 80's. My resume in 1982 as a teen said: "Mowed lawns, shoveled driveways and delivered newspapers" and back then I could get a job anytime I wanted. Now my qualifications have greatly upgraded. I was a Sgt in the 101st ABN DIV, got a bachelors degree that cost $150K and helped sculpt car designs you see driving down the road every day... and I can't find a job to save my life. Something is seriously wrong these days...

July 24 2010 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to William's comment

As a proud wife of a retired army combat-disabled vet, I just wish to say thank you for serving. Best of luck in your job search.

July 24 2010 at 6:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Nancy Ann Smith

Am I the only person out here who has a very logical reason for sending out applications that I am underqualified for or geographically unsuited for? MY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION REQUIRES THAT I APPLY FOR AT LEAST TWO JOBS PER WEEK IN MY "FIELD" of expertise. In the present job market, I have not seen a perfect match yet, so I apply for positions that are "out of my league," but in the same ballpark. It seemed logical that my applications would indeed be weeded out, but at least I would be meeting the requirements.

July 23 2010 at 11:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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