Don’t Sabotage Your Job Search with False Assumptions
By Deborah Walker, CCMC
Most job seekers understand that the job market has changed radically over the last few years. Sadly, however, many still hold to job-search assumptions that do not apply to our current market conditions. If you believe any of the following five statements, you could be dragging your job search out longer than necessary. Cut your job search time by knowing the truth about the job market and learning how to combat these assumptions.
- "My last job search was a snap. I’m sure this time won’t be any different."
Chances are, your last job search was in the mid to late 1990’s when the job market favored job seekers. Even up to 2001, jobseekers (and even employers) lived under a rosy glow of unrealistic optimism. In the last few years, however, most job seekers have noticed a drastic drop in the market demand for their career skills. Persons who were once courted by recruiters and headhunters from top firms wonder why they are no longer receiving calls with enticing opportunities. For many job seekers, frustration and lack of confidence have replaced optimism.
Action: The job seeker of 2004 will avoid discouragement by developing a strategic action plan that involves a high degree of proactive and systematic effort.
- "Employers and recruiters take the time to read entire resumes."
This is couldn’t be farther from the truth. The reality is if the best information isn’t in the top four to five inches of your resume, it’s doubtful anyone will notice. Try this out for yourself. Open up your current resume on your computer. Do you see the entire first page? Probably not. Most likely when your resume is opened, the reader will see the top four to five inches. You must sell the reader in those first few inches or he/she is not going to bother scrolling down to read more. With the volume of resumes that employers and recruiters receive, who has the time to hunt out the good material on a resume?
Action: If your current resume isn’t making best use of the top four to five inches, consider using a hybrid format that will allow you to place your best assets up on top where you’ll be noticed and called.
- "I don’t want to limit my potential job opportunities, so I’ll write one resume to apply for all kinds of jobs."
I learned early in my recruiting days that employers turn down perfectly qualified candidates because the resume’s focus is too general. A one-size-fits-all resume gives the impression that the job seeker is uncertain of his career goal. An employer once told me that if a candidate is interested in two completely different positions, he must not be very good at either.
Action: The most effective resumes leave no doubt as to the job seeker’s career objective. If you have more than one career objective, you need more than one resume.
- "I’m not going to bother with cover letters. No one really reads them anyway."
The truth is the quality of your cover letter often will determine whether your resume gets read at all. The worst offense, however, is to send a cover letter that sounds as "cookie-cutter" as junk mail.
Your cover letters will create a stronger first impression if you remember the buying motives of each of these major categories of recipients:
- Executive decision makers are most interested in your ability to help them achieve their corporate bottom-line objectives.
- HR screeners look for the best qualifications match.
- Third-party recruiters need strong selling points to help present you to their corporate clients.
Action: If you keep in mind the buying motives of your cover letter recipient, you’ll win their attention more often than not.
- "If I can just get my foot in the door, my interview skills will get me an offer."
That may have been true back when you had less interview competition. But today, employers have the advantage of choosing from the best talent available, because so much of the best talent IS available. Since you’ll probably be interviewing against candidates at least as strong as yourself, you’ll need to distinguish yourself through superior interview preparation.
Action: Remember that the best way to prepare for an interview is to think of an interview in three parts:
- Ask questions to uncover the interviewer’s hidden buying motives.
- Answer questions based on the interviewer’s buying motives.
- Ask closing questions to win the job offer.
Once you are free of false assumptions, you’re less likely to fall victim to many of the disappointments, frustrations and anxieties associated with an extended job search.
By Deborah Walker, CCMC
Resume Writer ~ Career Coach