3 Big Mistakes Job Seekers Make and How to Avoid Them

Home Resources Articles 3 Big Mistakes Job Seekers Make and How to Avoid Them
Wooden squares with letters on them that say "Learn From Failures"
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

This post was written by guest author Belma McCaffrey, Founder and CEO of Work Bigger, Career & Leadership Coaching. Belma participated as a speaker for our 2023 Virtual Get a Job You Love Summit.

Are you thinking of switching jobs or are you currently job searching? 

If you are, you’ll want to keep reading. 

The job search can be pretty stressful. There are so many questions that come up…

  • Will I find the right company?
  • Will I find a job that meets my salary requirements?
  • Will I be happy? 
  • What if the environment isn’t a right fit?

All of these are valid questions! You spend so much time at your job. It’s important that it aligns with your values, goals, and financial needs. 

I see so many people, though, jump into the job search without a clear plan and strategy. This is partly because there’s so much anxiety around the whole thing, and I think as humans we have a tendency to focus on the WHAT – what will I do next? 

Our brains crave certainty so the faster we can fill in any gaps about our future, the better. 

Although this is understandable, it’s not the fastest or most effective way to landing the best next opportunity for you. 

Here are 3 big mistakes job seekers make and how to avoid them. 

1. You’re ready to make a pivot and look for something new, so you jump on LinkedIn, Indeed, or another job board to see what opportunities are available. 

I totally get this!

You’re curious and you want to see what’s out there. But rarely do I see this resulting in anything positive. 

First, there are so many opportunities and options out there. Going to these job boards bombards us with options, and then what happens? We’re overwhelmed! 

Second, (and this is especially important if you want to make a career pivot), you’ll likely end up looking for or finding opportunities that align with what you’re already doing. It’s how the algorithms on these job boards work, and this isn’t helpful at all when you’re trying to change careers. 

What should you do instead? 

Start with a plan!

First, consider your why and your how. 

What motivates you? What’s most important to you? And what are your strengths?

Once you’re clear on what you want, you can start to explore which opportunities match your goals. 

I have a class called “How to find your superpower” that will take you through the 4 clues you need to find your superpower and do work you love. Join here.

2. Your primary strategy is to apply to jobs online. 

This can look like sending out resume after resume and writing dozens of cover letters. You feel productive, but you’re not getting many results. Why? Because you’re likely sending resumes into a black hole.

You could be applying to jobs that are no longer available. Also, companies are likely to prioritize internal candidates or referrals.

Recruiters also get so many applications. The best way to get noticed is to trick an algorithm rather than stand out through your accomplishments. 

The success rate of landing a job via online applications is really low ranging from 2% to 5%. It’s a difficult game to play.

What should you do instead? 

Develop a networking strategy. After you get clear on what you want, lean on your network and community. 

I always find it helpful to start with the people you know. Ask them for introductions to recruiters or people that work in your desired industry.

I recommend ending each conversation asking for another connection. This will allow your network to expand, and you can continue gathering the information you need to understand what jobs are available

This strategy might feel lengthier, but it can be much more productive than applying to jobs online. 

3. You’re considering graduate school or another continuing education program, but you’re not fully grounded in your decision. 

You’re thinking – “If I have this credential, it will be much easier to pivot.”

I’m all for continuing education. 

Personally, I have a BA, an MBA, a coaching certification from the NeuroLeadership Institute, and a coaching certification from COR. I’m also going to continue taking courses and training that will deepen my knowledge and grow my skill set. 

It’s important though that you’re super clear on your return on investment before jumping into continuing education. 

When I went back to school for my MBA, I wasn’t crystal clear on what I wanted out of it. I thought it would help me pivot out of media and into brand management, but I wasn’t even sure if that’s what I wanted to do. 

The problem was that I spent about $25,000 on my tuition, and I gave up close to a six-figure salary at my previous job. Once I graduated, I ended up working in media again. 

I don’t regret my path. Eventually, I pivoted into coaching and running my own business, but I didn’t need an MBA to get here. It was an expensive decision and very time-consuming! 

So, if you’re thinking about continuing education to help you make a career change, here’s a prompt to help you with your decision: Are you clear on the outcome you’ll receive? And when will you make your money back? 

In conclusion

There’s no shame in any of these mistakes.

I’ve made all of these mistakes and more, and that’s how I know there’s a better way. 

I’m hoping sharing these lessons with you today will help you find a quicker, more effective way to land your next opportunity. 
And if you’re looking for more support on your job search strategy, register for the free class, How to find your superpower! You’ll learn the specific next steps you need to create a career path you love with confidence and clarity.

I am also speaking at the annual SGO Get a Job You Love Summit! A virtual half-day for talented candidates to learn, connect and find the right employer! This event will prepare active job seekers and job browsers for the next step in their career journey. You’ll get to meet and learn from incredible companies who are looking to hire you while also learning best practices for getting noticed for the right job for you. It’s only a month away so sign up today!