Doing all the right things, but not getting the jobs you want? There are a lot of basics you probably already know about--sending out resumes, networking online and at events, researching companies, prepping for interviews, lining up references, and more. But there are also landmines waiting to eliminate all of your hard work in a flash.
Three roads to elimination:
- Eliminated by Your Resume
Is your resume perfect? I mean really, really perfect? We talk about resumes a lot because they’re generally the first (and often the last) exposure a potential employer has to you. It’s your main advertising and branding tool, your first and maybe only chance to tell them how great you are and why you’re a perfect fit.
- Styles change constantly, make sure your resume feels up-to-date and follows a currently accepted format for your role and industry.
- If you’re creative, let it show in the design and layout as long as it doesn’t hurt readability. First and foremost, a resume is a communication document.
- Make sure it can be imported into a tracking database. Provide a PDF file with live text. Images don’t import, back them up with text.
- Provide a summary of what you do and how you can help the potential employer at the top of the page. The rest of your resume should support that summary statement.
- List your past experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent first), including success stories and achievements.
- Focus on your professional experience, especially the areas of most interest to the potential employer. Don’t include extraneous or highly personal information unless it’s relevant to the job.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread, then have someone else proofread it again. Think the employer will give you a pass or tell you about a typo? There’s no time for that, they’ll just put you in the “no” pile and move on.
- Eliminated by Social Media
- Over a third of employers check out potential candidates on social media, and they make judgments based on what they find.
- Of course this includes potentially negative or illegal activities, but it also includes political affiliations, personal interests, overall attitude and personality, and much more.
- If they like what they find, it helps. If they don’t, it doesn’t. Be yourself, but also be aware of how a comment or photo might be perceived by a potential employer.
- Generally you will never know this is why you were eliminated.
- Eliminated by Negative References
- Select the best references you have for that particular job. You may not always provide the same people for every opportunity.
- Choose people that you are 100% certain will give positive feedback. If you have any doubt at all, don’t include them.
- Ask permission before providing someone as a reference, and give them a heads up if you think they might be getting a call. No one wants to be caught by surprise, and it reflects poorly to the employer.
- They’ll probably also call people you didn’t provide. Surprised? If the employer’s friend knows you, they may trust that opinion more than pre-screened references you provide. Be aware of mutual connections. Even better, try to find a mutual connection to provide as a reference—they’ll most likely call that person anyway.
Any or all of these landmines can blow up your candidacy and, often you’ll never know what happened. Be aware of them, clear them up if you can, try to mitigate the damage if you can’t.
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