The job search is fraught with challenges, daunting obstacles, and cutthroat competition. Every day, job seekers deal with high unemployment rates, companies cutting headcount instead of hiring, and rapidly changing job markets – and that’s only the beginning.
For millions of job seekers across the planet, the biggest obstacle of all is themselves.
That’s right. Job seekers are sabotaging themselves each and every day. The job search is tough enough as it is, so why do we make it more difficult than it has to be?
It’s not like this kind of sabotage is done on purpose. In fact, you might be the worst offender of your own job search and not even realize it!
Here are 4 ways that you might be sabotaging your job search — and how you can fix it today!
You’re putting it off.
In other words, you’re a big procrastinator. No worries, it happens to the best of us. You’re hard at work and you realize you haven’t checked your email in five whole minutes. Then it’s Facebook, then it’s your online bank statement, your Netflix queue, and you have really been meaning to get to that last chapter of the Grisham book you’re reading…Two hours have passed and you’re nowhere closer to even finding a job you like.
If you are like some people I know, you like being under pressure, and so you purposefully put off doing the things you need to do until it absolutely has to be done. For some things in life that might be acceptable, but not for your job search.
How to fix it: Treat your job search like a job. Plan for procrastination. Before you begin your day, before you do anything, let yourself procrastinate for 20 minutes or so. (I call this solitude and planning. It just sounds better than procrastination). Set an appointment for yourself to do whatever you want for 20-30 minutes. When your appointment is over, that’s it, get to work, and don’t even think about fun-time, personal-time until lunch.
It’s okay to take breaks. You need to take a break to recharge and for your sanity now and again, and taking breaks will help you to stay focused and on task.
You’re not your biggest fan.
I am not talking about borderline or full-on narcissistic personality disorder. I mean you have to believe in yourself. All too often, I run into job seekers who are too hard on themselves. They don’t think they’re good enough for a job, and when the job search is prolonged, they retreat into a smaller, narrower segments of the job market, isolate themselves from their friends and colleagues, and search for less satisfying positions. If you don’t believe in yourself, what kind of employer will?
How to fix it: Inventory your skills and strengths. Sit down and write a list of all the things at which you are really good, kind of good, and want to do better. List everything work and hobby or personal interest-related. Whenever you write cover letters, career summaries, elevator pitches, and profile statements, refer to your list to provide examples of your awesomeness and reaffirm where you are headed in your career. Also, make these attributes part of your personal branding in social media. The more often you assert these attributes, the faster they will become ingrained values that you espouse in your everyday life.
You play with fire.
You know it’s dangerous, but you do it anyway. Your friends tag you in racy photos, you “wing it” in an interview, and you’ve struck an overall “Devil may care” attitude about your job search.
How to fix it: If you are serious about getting hired, you might want to pull the reigns in a little bit. You deserve to live the life you want, but pay attention to where it overlaps with your professional brand. Comb through your social media profiles and privacy settings to figure out what exactly you’re telling potential employers. Unify your personal and professional brand, and develop career networking and communication skills that demonstrate to employers exactly what it means to hire you.
You’re doing what everyone else does.
Understandably, the job search is a little scary because of that whopping unknown factor. Many job seekers take comfort in doing exactly what they see and hear, to a fault. Having a generic cover letter/resume, too-safe interview outfit, and ultra-bland social media profiles isn’t going to get you noticed and into that stellar dream job you want.
How to fix it: It’s okay to start with a model or a template, but try to follow a rule many artists follow – it has to be at least 60% different for it to be something unique and to represent you. You are an individual, figure out what makes you stand out and own it. Aim for interesting, not generic.
What do you think? What other ways do you see job seekers sabotaging themselves? Share your thoughts in the comments below!