Make sure you don't sabotage your job search by falling into these traps:
- Spending your efforts on only finding a "job" and not a "career". There is a difference between a “career” and a “job”. Your goal should be to develop and expand your “career”. For every action there is a consequence. For example, you might take a job because you need the cash with the consequence being that it may affect your career in the long run. Be aware of the strategic ramifications. When a recruiter asks why you took a job as a waiter when you are a financial planner, you may be at a disadvantaged.
- Taking a demotivating job can effect your attitude towards work in general. Another example is that if you take a job solely for the money but you are not really motivated by the work, your demotivation may lead to bad mouthing others and being negative. This erodes your image and your image precedes you in any career opportunity. Your former boss or colleague may tell someone at a job you really want that aligns with your career goal that you have a negative attitude without explaining why.
- Be aware of the Psychological contract on both sides – a psychological contract is a contract you form in your mind about the organization you join and forms in your new manager’s mind regarding your capabilities. Both the new employee and employer have a tendency to inflate themselves and the company. Too much inflation distorts the psychological contract. On your part if you inflate your knowledge, skills, abilities and other qualifications (KSAOs in HR), your new manager may put you in charge of something you have very little skills and may endanger your chances of success. On the other hand, you may join a company that really doesn’t fit your career mode. This may look bad later on your resume: “why did you take a step down with this position?”
- When developing a resume or applying to a job, focus on the KSAOs that apply to the job. Do not focus on the tasks you performed at a position you had in the past but the KSAOs you developed as a result of tasks, projects or processes. Instead of saying you handled multiple phone calls, say that you provided customer service, coordinated efforts, solved problems, etc. Focus on what you learned or the skills you developed rather than the task itself.
- Some experts say you should have resumes specific to the job you are applying. The reason for this is that many organization screen applications as they are sent in or posted electronically. They are looking for certain key words and if you do not have those words in your resume or application, you will be rejected. Be aware that there is no longer such a thing as having “your resume” but in today’s world you need to modify “your resume” and adapt it to every job possibility. It is time consuming but necessary.
- Image mistakes can kill you – dress for the part. Be formal in your responses. Be careful about being too friendly or being too transparent. One the questions you should be prepared for is “what are your weaknesses”. Answering this like you may with a friend may sabotage the interview. “One of my weaknesses is not getting to work on time” may truly be something you are working on and may be a weakness, but saying this is catastrophic in an interview.
- Remember that you are pursuing a career, not getting a job. You may have to get a job that helps you pursue a career but the goal is to land that career and to expand your career. So burning bridges is dangerous in continuing your career. Even if you turn down a job, do so gracefully. You can be rejected for a job with an organization but how you handled that rejection can lead the hiring manager to refer you to another department which ended up being the best fit for you. This can lead to a long career with that company in which you can develop many KSAOs that can be used in your expanding career.
- Be aware of diversity in the workplace. Respect a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, etc. Be aware of stereotypes that you have developed over time and make sure to put those stereotypes aside. You may wonder if they are too young for their current position or wonder why they haven’t retired yet. You may be concerned that a person in a certain position may have a challenge based on their gender or disability but that really isn’t your concern. Making comments of this nature will certainly erode your image and sabotage your efforts in getting a job and establishing a network that will influence your career.