Imagine you’re on a vacation road trip with your extended family. You’re cruising down the interstate when suddenly someone yells from the back seat, “Take this exit now – it’ll save time!” You’ve trusted them before, so you swerve to take it. But 45 minutes later you realize this was not the exit you were looking for – and you have to try to find your way back. Time has been wasted, everyone is tired and cranky, and this road trip just got a whole lot longer.
Many job seekers find themselves navigating their career the same way. They take advice from well meaning friends and coworkers that seems right, or simple take the routes to their career goals that “seem to make sense.” But this method of navigation will leave you broken down on the side of the road – proverbial professional roadkill.
The job search journey is full of detours. Blindly following friends’ advice is a big one, but from my years of Career Coaching experience, these are the 5 most common job search detours you should avoid.
1: Passing out resumes like business cards.
You only get one chance to make a great impression. Don’t leave it up to your resume to do the job. Instead of having someone pass your resume around, have them introduce you to their friend/contact. Nothing can beat the results found face-to-face.
2: Keeping yourself open to a variety of jobs.
Nothing screams “desperate” more than broadcasting to your contacts that you can do a lot of things well. This communicates that you are a jack of all trades, but a master of none! Pick a career target and network with people who work in that field.
3: Coasting on Social Media.
LinkedIn is known as the leading social network for job seekers. But most participants fall into the trap of “coasting” – simply adding connection after connection. But the biggest strength of LinkedIn is showcasing your unique value, which means grabbing the wheel and actively reaching out to others rather than thinking, “I hope someone finds me to be a fit for their job opening.”
4: Ineffective networking.
Similar to #3, “networking” is often a misunderstood term. Effective networking requires that you understand who you need to talk with and what information you need to obtain or share. You need to understand the power of how to develop relationships – not just contacts.
5: Not being prepared for an interview.
No matter how good you think you are at “winging it”, you’d be better if you prepare. Consider what you’ll be asked according to the job description. Rehearse your answers – and the questions YOU want to ask. Go have mock interviews with experts in recruitment.
If you’ve found yourself taking too many job search detours, consider digging deeper with my book From Roadkill To Roadmap: 8 steps to put your career in drive without taking costly detours.