Whether we like it or not, a job search entails the selling of a product, which happens to be you. Now, I know that ruffles some feathers even among career strategists because they don’t like the idea of “sales” and “pitch,” so they come up with other terms. But at the end of the day, there’s simply nothing wrong with sales and with marketing you as the product.
In fact, a true, successful salesperson understands one basic principle: What you are “selling” benefits the buyer more than you the seller. (If you don’t believe that, then you probably won’t last long in sales!)
In the case of a job search, yes, you need a job and it benefits you greatly, but for the company to be successful, it needs strong assets. You can go on to the next job, as frustrating as that may be; a company with poor assets, however, simply fails. So with that in mind, don’t be afraid to sell “your product!” They need it!
However, as with any product, there is a fine line between a successful negotiation and an ineffective pitch. So it is wise to take a look at some of the top job search mistakes that job seekers make:
- Overselling/Underselling. It is probably just as bad to oversell your qualities as it is to undersell them. The reason that either one occurs is because job seekers place all the emphasis on the product (themselves) and forget about the buyer (the potential employer) and the buyer’s needs. Big mistake!!
- Misplaced Blame. When things don’t happen quickly during the job search process, the first thing most job seekers do is start to place blame. It’s the résumé. It’s the recruiter. It’s the job market. It’s the government. And so on. As mentioned, the job search process is a frustrating one. And it is a mistake to get caught up in the blame game. As soon as that starts, you will lose focus, become demotivated, and carry that attitude into interviews.
- Undiversified Approach. Many job seekers think that they can just try one or two opportunities for finding a job and dismiss many other options. Forgetting to diversify your job search can be a big mistake, particularly when it is a statistical fact that many traditional job hunting tactics are not that effective. So if you’re expecting those online posting sites to do all the work for you, you will likely be disappointed or, at the very least, waiting around for a while for something to happen.
- Unrealistic Expectations. Time and time again, job seekers will start off a job search with such high hopes. They can’t wait to start that new career. They just know they are worth more. They’ve bought that fancy résumé. The calls should just start rolling in…As we discuss a little later on, even with all the right conditions (good skills, great résumé), no one is guaranteed a 30-day or less job search. So many factors are involved that you need to understand how long it can truly take.
- Lack of Preparation. It is amazing how job seekers will put so much emphasis on the résumé but forget to (a) have a strategy in place for how to use the résumé, (b) fail to prepare for both phone and face-to-face interviews (they are not the same thing and, therefore, require different preparation), and (c) have a complete misunderstanding of the industry they are targeting. Don’t be fooled. Just because you’ve spent the last 10 years in your field doesn’t mean that you have a broad perspective on it. Chances are your scope has been narrow, specific to your employer, or industry-specific. Honestly, there is no excuse for lack of preparation, and no matter how much you have to offer, it will hinder your job search.
If you are not a natural sales person, don’t worry. Most people think they are bad at sales because they spend too much time obsessing over the end result and not enough time matching up their product with the prospect’s needs. If you think of your job search as a synergy between your experience and skills and the potential employer’s needs, it will help you stay focused on the “win-win” goal you are trying to achieve.