Fair warning: if you or someone you love are looking for a new job, it’s easy to fall into a few job search traps. Let’s identify them ahead of time, so you don’t waste your time and energy.
Here are the three biggest job search traps:
Job Search Trap #1: Messing With Your Resume
You’re a modern professional living in the real world.
So stop living in the old days when it comes to your career.
In the pre-internet days, the resume was the top dog, the cat’s meow—pick your fave animal metaphor.
No one had any tools to learn more about who you are or what you’ve done.
The only way you could share this data was a carefully formatted 8 1/2 x 11 piece of paper, often sent through the postal mail.
Your resume is a relic of those old days.
At the risk of offending a multi-million dollar industry of resume writers, thinking “if I just work hard enough on my resume, I’ll find the perfect job” is a mistake.
It’s a time sucking, energy wasting, and focus pulling trap.
Here’s the truth: we fiddle with our resumes over and over again because it feels safe.
It feels like we’re making progress, like we’re accomplishing something.
But we’re not.
What are we REALLY doing when we’re “working on our resume?”
We’re avoiding the harder, but more important work that will bring us closer to the next role for us.
- Getting clear on what we really want—and what we don’t. (For guided help to get this done fast, check out my on-demand course, Create Career Clarity.)
- Strengthening our story about how we add value.
- Activating and building our relationships so we have a better picture of what’s happening in the world so we can learn about the problems we can solve.
- Managing our mindset every day so we show up in our best light
Will you eventually want a resume? Sure. But done is better than perfect.
And LinkedIn matters much more today, anyway. Get current on LinkedIn and your resume writes itself.
Just don’t fall into the job search trap of spending too much time here. People don’t hire resumes; people hire people.
Job Search Trap #2: Surfing Online Job Boards
Part of your brain knows this fact: most jobs are never posted online.
But for some reason, the other part of your brain keeps telling you there’s the perfect opportunity “out there” online: if only you keep digging.
For some reason, you listen to that annoying part of your brain, and you stay stuck in front of your screen, applying to anything and everything online.
This trap actually hurts you even more deeply because when you don’t hear back from any of your thousands of online applications, you start believing:
- No one is hiring.
- No one wants to hire YOU.
- YOU are worthless and unwanted and will never work again.
None of these are true.
But here’s what IS true.
Before the great pandemic of 2020—when open opportunities were abundant and companies were struggling to find the right talent to hire—the percentage of online applications that even got a response was only 3%.
Now, with more cautious hiring, your odds are even smaller.
Yes, most online job boards are a black hole.
Surfing job boards and spending time filling out endless applications is a trap.
Honestly, it’s just another place to hide.
Just like fiddling with your resume, it makes us feel like we’re doing something: “Hey, I applied to ten jobs today!”
But it doesn’t convert.
There’s very little return on your investment of time.
Instead, treat job boards as just one small element of your overall job search plan.
If you’re a professional level person, focus first on LinkedIn, setting up alerts in its Jobs section and making sure your profile is marked “on” for recruiters.
Then, zero in on the targeted job boards, such as ones run by your professional association, industry (such as Dice.com for tech roles), and the careers pages of companies in your area. Most allow you set up alerts, too, so you don’t have to sit and surf—new opportunities get emailed to you.
Don’t get guilted into spending time on the mass boards like Indeed, Monster, and Craigslist—most have a lot of phishing roles and recruiting companies building their database. Skip ’em and spend your time on people, people, people.
Which brings us to our final trap.
Job Search Trap #3: Keeping Everything to Yourself
Even though layoffs, furloughs or other changes are the norm today, for most of us, they still feel like a blow—like we did something wrong.
So we get ashamed, embarrassed, or even angry at our current situation.
And really, we’d prefer it be a secret.
We’re afraid to engage others—especially those we don’t talk to often. We worry that they’ll think we’re being needy or desperate.
Or worse, we DO get needy and desperate—and don’t realize how we’re coming off.
We tell ourselves “hey, I’m smart—I SHOULD be able to figure this out on my own.”
But that’s a trap.
Yes, you ARE smart.
But no, you can’t do this alone.
That’s a trap.
I’ll say it again: people don’t hire resumes. People hire people.
So if you want to get hired, you need your people.
And it’s only people that lead you to the people who have the problems you can solve.
The ideas, experiences and connections of others mingle with yours to create opportunities you never would have known about on your own.
But you’ve got to reach out first.
What if I’ve fallen into a job search trap?
If you now realize you’re in a job search trap, that’s good news.
It means you can hit the reset button and start your new habits now.
You’ve got this. Now get to work. The good news is that there ARE jobs out there. Don’t ever buy in to the conventional, pessimistic mindset that none exist.
A job is just a problem waiting to be solved.
And goodness knows, the world’s still full of problems.
Thankfully, you’ll be someone’s solution.
If it’s time for more help …
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