Friday, October 23, 2009

8 Mistakes that Can Hurt Your Job Search

Mistake # 4: Not Adequately Researching the Companies You Are Targeting

You can't possibly present yourself as a viable solution to a need if you don't know what the need is. Use the company's web site, annual reports, press releases, investor reports, message boards, and sites like,, and to uncover:

1. The company's vision and mission (these are important words to play back to the employer).
2. Key objectives and focus areas.
3. Key issues (internal or external).
4. General financial health.

Use informational networking meetings with people who know the company to learn about the culture and what it's like to work there. Never approach a company unless you've researched it first!

Mistake # 5: Targeting Only Companies with Advertised Job Openings

It is estimated that approximately 70-80% of opportunities are never advertised. By limiting yourself to only companies advertising your ideal position, you are missing a huge segment of potential openings.

Backfill opportunities for departmental restructurings, underperforming employees, and promotions are typically known far in advance by management. But they aren't advertised in advance. In addition, many hiring managers don't know what they need until they see it, meaning you!

By approaching companies that fit your ideal parameters and demonstrating the value you could bring to their organization, you may be considered for a position that hasn't been vacated, or doesn't even exist yet!

Mistake # 6: Sending Your Materials to the Wrong Person

The Internet has made it much easier to approach companies. Too easy. Companies receive hundreds, often thousands, of emailed resumes. Where do most go? To the Human Resources Department. Most of the submissions are never even looked at.

If you want to be considered for a position, you must get your materials in the hands of the hiring decision maker.

Start by finding out who it is. If you are making an unsolicited approach, use a networking referral to make direct contact. If responding to an advertised job, follow the instructions - which typically means going through HR. If you don't get a response, write a letter to the hiring decision maker and reference the fact that you have already sent your information to HR.

Remember: HR doesn't make the hiring decision!

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