If you’re looking for a new job, you’ve likely read up on how to land your next great position. But beware: Not all of tips are worth following. Here are four job search strategies that look good in print but can actually cost you that new opportunity.
1. Taking a scattergun approach to résumé submissions.
While “résumé bombing” may seem like a good strategy (you’re sure to hit something if you apply to lots of openings, right?), it’s actually a job search mistake. Not only does this approach waste your time, but you are actually less likely to get an interview request this way. Hiring managers are looking for specific skills, experience and talent in prospective employees. If you click “submit” whenever you come across an ad that you’re the slightest bit qualified for, chances are you’re not taking the time to tailor your résumé to individual openings.
A better job search strategy: Read each job posting carefully, especially the minimum requirements. If you lack one or more of them, don’t bother applying, because your application would just go into the circular file. But if you have all the requirements, and the duties and prospective employer excite you, then take the time to customize your cover letter and résumé.
2. Playing hardball when negotiating your salary.
Naturally you want to be well compensated. But just as you have a minimum amount you’ll work for, prospective employers have a salary ceiling. Go into negotiations knowing what you want and what you’re worth. The Robert Half “Salary Guides” are great resources for the most recent starting salaries for hundreds of jobs.
While it’s OK to negotiate once — and sometimes even twice — on a salary offer, you don’t want to push too much. Why? For one, you could be perceived as difficult, and managers don’t want problematic employees on their teams. And depending on the industry and whether your skills are in demand, there may be others willing to work for that salary — which means you could lose that job offer. However, if the final package is just too low, it’s in your best interest to politely turn it down.
3. Getting “creative” with job applications.
Your cover letter and résumé are employers’ first impression of you. Unless you’re in a creative field, keep things visually conservative and professional so you don’t frighten off hiring managers. This means losing the fancy typefaces, images, attempts at humor, and wacky layouts.
A clever résumé may get your application noticed, but for all the wrong reasons. Video résumés? Best to ask first, as some workplaces worry about discrimination claims. Another good reason to go old school is for the sake of scanning technology. Most résumés have to run through the gauntlet of an application tracking system, and an ornate résumé with images could cause it to be rejected before a human sees it.
But traditional doesn’t have to mean boring. Use bold and varying size fonts to draw the eye to subheads. Columns make text blocks narrower and easier to read. White spaces help make the document more appealing.
Finally, give your cover letters the same professional treatment. Let your carefully chosen words and relevant credentials impress a hiring manager — not your puns, arrogance, emoticons or sales-pitchy lines.
4. Turning up your nose at temporary positions.
Think interim work will look bad on your résumé or hurt your career trajectory? Think again. Employers are relying on consultants and temporary workers more than ever, and analysts predict this trend will continue to grow. Signing up with a staffing agency that specializes in your field can result in interim jobs that prevent gaps in your work history, help you keep your skills honed, expose you to invaluable new experiences and boost your professional network.
Additionally, project-based jobs are sometimes converted into full-time positions — for the right employee. The American Staffing Association found that 80% of polled clients said working with temporary agencies was a good way to identify full-time hires.
Whether you’re between jobs or looking for another position, avoid these job search mistakes. You’ll increase your odds of furthering your professional career.