5 habits to break during the job search

If there were one habit I’d like to break, it would be drinking coffee in the morning, on the way to work, and when taking my kids to their events in the evenings; the family joke when we get in the car is, “Dad, do you have your coffee?” I’ve had this habit for so long that I can’t imagine a day without coffee.

Habits are hard to break. Taking steps to correct them take small victories, which eventually lead to winning the battle. Just as there are habits in life, there are also habits that develop in the job search. Here are five habits you as a jobseeker must break.

  1. Believing that a résumé is enough to land an interview. It’s not hard to understand why this habit is one tough cookie to crack. The message that your résumé is enough is prevalent in the job search, where misguided job experts say the first thing you need to do is write or update your résumé. And once you’ve accomplished this, a job is bound to come around.
  2. Shotgunning résumés. How you’ve been taught to deliver your résumé is old school. I’ve heard some jobseekers say with pride that they send out five résumés a day. This means two things: one, they aren’t tailoring their résumés to individual companies and two, they’re not leaving their computers and making contact. A few well-placed résumés are better than hundreds of unfocused résumés to no one in particular.
  3. Shyness. Another habit that’s hard to break for some jobseekers is following their shy self. Your shy self tells you “Don’t tell people you’re looking for a job, even your staunch supporters like your family and friends….Don’t network with other jobseekers or business people….Don’t ask your former supervisors and managers for a written recommendation for LinkedIn.” Your shy self has been with you while you’ve worked, so it’s hard to shake off.
  4. Using the Internet for the wrong reasons. This habit might be the hardest one to break: using the Internet for online shopping, playing Farm Land and Mafia Wars, Googling for the best deal on a vacation spot; essentially using the Internet for the wrong reasons now in your life. It’s a bad sign when I ask jobseekers if they’re using LinkedIn and even Twitter and Facebook for their job search, and they give me a deer-in-the-headlights look.
  5. Stopping a good thing once you’ve gotten a job: A story I like to tell about a former jobseeker is how when he started using LinkedIn, he wasn’t a true believer. Then he got a job and his activity picked up three-fold. I asked him if he was in the job hunt again. To this he replied that one should never stop networking, especially when one’s working. Some people tend to think all networking should cease while they’re working; they become complacent. Don’t fall into this trap.

Habits, like drinking coffee night and day, are difficult to conquer but not impossible. Once you turn your habits into productive ones, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and your job search will be more successful.

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5 thoughts on “5 habits to break during the job search

  1. Mary Appleton

    Hi Bob, another great posting. I’m amazed that people still feel that CVs (or resumes) can be written with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. My golden rule is to tailor your CV/resume to each role that you’re applying for, which gives you the opportunity to highlight the relevant skills and experience you’ve gained in the past, and why these are specifically relevant to the role that’s on offer.

    I think commencing a job search is a great opportunity to break bad habits. After all, your end goal is to change the position you’re working in, and in order to do that you need to up your game. Take a fresh approach and see your job search as a chance to evaluate everything – your working habits and practices as well as your skills and experience. Be honest with yourself – what can you adapt or change for the better? Sometimes it doesn’t even have to be a ‘bad’ habit – what worked in the past might not be relevant today, so how can you approach your job search in a slightly different way? In the same way that you refresh your CV, you should refresh your approach to job seeking regularly to keep ahead of the game.

    And PS, Bob, if I drank coffee in the evening I don’t think I would ever sleep!

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  2. Things Career Related Post author

    Thanks, Mary.

    I’m particularly sensitive to using the Internet for the wrong reason and wanted to include conducting one’s entire job search using the job boards. But I couldn’t bring myself to saying so. There are many people who get jobs using job boards, but as the great Dick Bolles writes in What Color is Your Parachute, your chances of success is no greater than 10% if you use job boards alone. I think this discussion is worth continuing.

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  3. Mary Appleton

    Definitely Bob. I think job searching has become far more complex than it used to be, simply because there are so many channels now that you can use to conduct your search and application. Which is ironic, because the aim of these channels is actually to make your life easier when searching! I think it’s important to be targeted in your approach but also not exclude any of these channels (job boards being one) because essentially, you’re cutting off potential opportunities.

    I think it also depends what sector you’re looking for work in. There are a lot of generalist job boards out there which might be more appropriate for the graduate market, but if you’ve got to a senior level and have established your career in a certain sector, searching through a niche sector-specific job board makes complete sense.

    Then of course there’s the social media channels – we’re seeing a lot of organisations creating specific careers pages on Facebook for potential talent to engage with. We’ve also heard a lot recently about using twitter to apply for jobs and then of course there’s Linkedin.

    Couple that with recruitment agencies, face-to-face networking events and industry forums – all could provide potential oppotunity for securing a new role. My advice would be, get organised about your approach but don’t limit yourself to one channel – there’s more than one way to get a job and it’s about positioning yourself in the right way.

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  4. Elaine Doremus

    I’m interested in #3 – Shyness. Even though I worked for many years in retail, I was painfully shy as a young person. Once I got older and had my own business, I knew I had to learn how to promote myself with face-to-face conversations with people. I practiced and now I can meet people with relative ease. I would recommend that people who are shy practice as well, with friends, family, and co-workers.

    One error that companies do is to send a few of their young and inexperienced employees to a networking event without practicing. They all sit together at the event and don’t mingle with others. Then they come back to the company and say they didn’t meet anyone! That may be fine for young people starting out to feel comfortable but at subsequent events, employees should attend alone. I think there’s a real need for companies and colleges to educate their employees and students on the importance of face-to-face networking.

    Ever since I started working I asked for recommendation letters from former employers and volunteer coordinators. I figured all they could say is no, and some of them did. I now have over ten letters. That’s one thing I was able to do and I was surprised I did that for so many years. When I was young, someone must have told me to do that. I was so shy I can’t imagine that I would have thought of that myself. That’s another beneficial skill that job seekers can learn.

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    1. Mary Appleton

      Elaine, I completely agree and you make some very good points. I think it’s really difficult for some people when they first go to networking events – especially if you go with colleagues as your natural instinct is to talk to people you know. I agree – people should be sent alone and then you are forced to talk to others and make introductions.

      I think confidence at work, whether you’re job seeking or in employment, can be a real issue for some, especially when it comes to communication, which of course is a two way process. Even when you approach someone at a networking event and start talking to them, there’s no guarantee the interaction will be successful!

      Like anything – the more you practice the more comfortable you’ll become in a situation – whether that’s job interview, networking event or board meeting.

      Nina Grunfeld, life coach and confidence expert in the UK offers this advice: “If you’re not feeling heard, ask yourself: how can I make my body language more engaging? How can I feel more confident about what I talk about? How can I communicate confidence even if I don’t yet feel it? What can I do to get others more engaged (ask them questions, compliment them, etc)?”

      You can read the full article here: http://www.changeboard.com/content/4030/career-development/personal-branding/how-can-you-be-more-confident-at-work/

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