1. When someone asks, you cannot clearly describe your skills and qualifications, and how they fit the job you want.
Imagine that you stop by your parents’ house and a friend of your mom asks you what type for job you want. You don’t know it, but this person is the hiring manager for your dream company. The problem is that you haven’t given your career enough thought to be able to quickly explain how your skills fit the type of jobs that employer has.
It’s not enough to know what you can do, you need to know what employers want. Practice your elevator speech (“Tell Me About Yourself …”) today so that you can impress your future employer tomorrow.
2. Your close family and friends do not know the type of job you want or your career goals.
Job searching can feel like a battle. So don’t be an Army of One. Make sure that everyone you know understands the types of jobs that you are looking for so that they will recognize a job lead when they see one.
There is no shame in asking for help – everyone has gone through more than one job search in their lifetime. And everyone appreciates help when they get it, and is willing to help others in return. That’s what networking is all about.
3. You do not have an updated copy of your resume ready to send to an employer at a moment’s notice.
Some of the best job leads are those that come out of thin air and need your quick response. If a friend told you about hot job lead today, how long would it take you to get your updated resume into the hands of that employer? If it would take you more than 10 minutes to freshen up your resume, then revise it NOW, before you miss out on that great job lead that’s just around the corner.
4. You cannot name five job titles that match your qualifications.
You might have your heart set on finding one type of job immediately, but do you know the job titles of other positions that fit your skills and interests? There is always more than one road to your career destination. Broadening your job search now will help you get your foot in the door and reach your destination faster.
5. You have never done a mock interview or researched effective interview skills.
If you go into a professional job interview and just “wing it,” you are decreasing your chances of getting hired. Before scheduling an interview, get a list of commonly asked interview questions and think about how you would answer each one. Write down all the ways you can describe your skills and experience. Think about why an employer might ask each question and the type of information you want them to know about you.
6. You send a lot of resumes but don’t follow up with employers.
If you are not getting phone calls from employers, first call them to make sure that they received your resume. A week later call to ask if they are scheduling interviews. A few days to a week after that, call to ask if you are in consideration for an interview. A week after that, call the employer to ask if the position is still open. Call back once a week or when the employer told you to call until you get an interview, or a firm “No.”
With each phone call you want to be polite and patient — and don’t take it personally if an employer does not respond to you. Each call is a chance for you to show your interest in the position and to make a good impression on the employer. Calling too often can make you seem pushy. But not calling at all shows employers that you are not really interested in the job.
7. You do not own a business outfit suitable for wearing on an interview.
No matter how casual the workplace is, NEVER wear jeans or tennis shoes to a job interview. When in doubt, dress up and look conservative.
How you present yourself in an interview show the employer how you will present yourself to clients and coworkers if you are hired. Make a good first impression and show the employer that you take the interview — and yourself — seriously.
8. You’ve sent your resume to less than 10 employers in the past month.
Getting interviews is a numbers game: The more resumes that you send out, the better your chances of getting an interview, and getting hired. If you are only sending your resume for select job openings based on the job descriptions, you could be missing out on great opportunities. Job descriptions are not always accurate or detailed. The interview is when you really learn what the job is.
9. Your voicemail has music playing, funny voices or is otherwise not professional sounding.
If you were a business owner, would you hire someone with a voicemail message that sounds like it was recorded during a party? Is this a person you would want to represent your company or talk to your clients?
Every cover letter you write, e-mail you send, voicemail you leave and phone conversation you have is your chance to either impress an employer or lessen your chances of getting hired. You can have the best skills in the world, but an employer will not hire someone who they thinks is inconsiderate, immature or disinterested in getting hired.
10. You don’t have a clear idea of where you want your career to be in three to five years.
Employers want to hire candidates committed to their fields. A quick way for employers to know how serious you are is to ask about your plans. If you don’t know your plans or name jobs outside of your current field, employers will see that as a red flag that you don’t plan to stay with their company long, or you’re not really interested in the work they do.
It’s OK to not be positive about your career path, but taking the time to discover the higher-level jobs your field has to offer will help you to find the right job for you now.