Instead of profiling “criminal minds,” my favorite show of all time, my job requires me to profile “candidate minds.” And if my tenure as an executive recruiter and career coach has taught me anything, it’s to beware of serial job seekers. Suspenseful TV programs have taught us that there are many different types of serial killers out there. Similarly, serial job seekers come from varying backgrounds, industries, and experience levels. But at the end of the day, they’re all guilty of committing the same crime repeatedly and following a specific behavioral pattern. Like serial killers, once they’re spotted, serial job seekers are avoided like the plague by employers and hiring managers everywhere. Although their offenses aren’t necessarily jail-time-worthy, they’re plenty dramatic, and in my opinion, would make for some entertaining reality TV. Right now you’re probably wondering what a serial job seeker looks like and how you can avoid becoming one.
SERIAL JOB SEEKER BEHAVIORS TO AVOID
Using the apply-apply-apply method. Many job seekers make the common mistake of applying to every job under the sun with the same tired resume. The ease technology brings to our lives, such as submitting your information with the click of a button, has caused candidates to view the abundant supply of internet job postings as a short cut to employment, resulting in too many applications done quickly and carelessly. In order to bring your A-game to every opportunity you pursue and disconnect from the apply-apply-apply instinct, ask yourself these questions before submitting your resume: 1) Do I want this job? 2) Do I qualify for this job? and 3) Do I want to work for this employer? Being selective with your job applications allows you to put more time, effort, and customization into each submission and think more strategically about your approach. Remember, a job search is not a numbers game.
Lying on your resume. Your resume marks an employer’s first impression of you, and within 20 seconds, he or she decides whether or not to discard it or keep it. Lying on your resume is a big no-no in the employment world. Whether you stretched the dates of past positions to cover up a job gap or rounded your undergraduate GPA a little too far up, chances are, hiring managers will find out. Even if you explain half-truths on your resume in your cover letter, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. With hundreds of applications to view everyday, many recruiters admit that resumes and cover letters are often separated or overlooked, which is why it’s crucial that each piece of professional marketing material you present conveys the same consistent message. Ever wonder why the hiring process takes so long? Employers double-check facts, references, and backgrounds with a fine-tooth comb before they decide to invest in a candidate. So be sure that you’re representing yourself honestly.
Providing references or salary information too soon. Many job seekers make the mistake of giving recruiters way too much information up front. Providing employers with references ahead of time will only motivate them to call before your first real interview takes place. Colleagues who are unaware of your job search act as roadblocks instead of promoters, and giving a salary range that seems too high or too low to the hiring manager can end your candidacy before it even begins. Not only should you ask your references for permission before you submit your application, but references and salary information should be documented separately and reserved for a later time in the interview process. For references, include extensive contact information and explain the relationship you have with each of them. Your salary information should state current expectations (be sure to communicate that your terms are negotiable) as well as salary history from past positions so the employer can better understand your value and career progression.
Failing to properly follow-up or send a “Thank You” note. Employers expect candidates to take ownership of their career, including their professional interactions. That means, taking the initiative to follow-up after an appropriate amount of time has passed. If you simply submitted your resume and haven’t heard back, you can say, “I am interested in your current opening, [give the title of the position you applied for], and would like to check on the status of my candidacy.” At the end of an interview, take the opportunity to ask what the next step in the hiring process is. If you forgot to inquire in person, follow up within five business days. Most importantly, be sure to send a customized thank you letter or email that highlights specific moments that stood out to you in the interview. Today, it’s not enough to show up on time and in your best suit. Employers are looking for positivity, courtesy, and professional decorum in each of their candidates – sending a thank you note is a great way to demonstrate those soft skills.
Complaining about your job search or bashing former colleagues on social media. When airing your dirty laundry, be sure you’re careful what medium you choose. You may be under the misconception that only friends and family in your personal network are privy to your social media rants, but that’s not the case. In fact, employers today are actively looking for red flags online, half-expecting you to eliminate yourself from the hiring process with an impulsive public share or not-so-professional photos. There’s no room for negative behavior in the eyes of an employer. If you desperately need a good, long, therapeutic venting session (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), call a friend, spouse, or relative rather than damaging your online presence.
To avoid being a serial job seeker, understand how to represent the best version of yourself in all mediums, and be strategic about your job search.
Now that you know what not to do, we thought it would be helpful if you had some information on what you should be doing. Complete with resume / cover letter guides and useful checklists, our free Job Search Toolkit will help you get your career off the ground and track your progress. Download it today!