By Joy Ehonwa
1. Your resume is hurting you
When it comes to the “objective” section of your CV, avoid a one-size-fits-all cluster of sentences. You should always tailor your objective to suit each job you’re applying for. If your resume objective has nothing to do with the position, why should the recruiting executive waste time reading it? If you’re unsure of what to say, just take out the objective altogether. It seldom helps, usually hurts, and more often than not takes up valuable space that could be better used to showcase your accomplishments.
Most importantly, your resume should answer one key question; “Why should we hire you instead of any other applicant?” In other words, “What can you bring to the table that someone else can’t?”
2. You don’t use your cover letter to your advantage
A cover letter is an opportunity to sell yourself; don’t waste it by sending the same letter over and over again. It takes longer to individualize one, but tailoring your cover letter to a specific opening is going to open doors which your resume alone might not be able to; placing your application in the tiny fraction of those that stand out and immediately go to the top of the pile.
Also, if you want to talk about your career objective and how this position fits in with it, instead of adding an “objective” section in your resume, use the cover letter for that.
3. You’re not honest during interviews
Searching for the right job is like dating; present a false front, and disillusionment in the near future is almost guaranteed. If you approach interviews as if your only goal is to win a job offer, you will most likely keep ending up in the wrong job. Being honest about your abilities and interests, and giving your potential employers a glimpse of the real you, will help them make an informed decision about how suitable the job is for you, and how well you would perform. Inasmuch as you need more money, cash should not be what drives your job hunt. Letting the promise of higher income blind you to the realities of the job you’re applying for, is setting yourself up for failure, as is hiding the truth about your strengths and weaknesses.
In fact, far from making you appear perfect; being unable to identify your weaknesses actually shows a lack of insight and self-awareness, both of which are absolutely necessary for personal growth and career advancement.
4. Potential employers can’t feel your enthusiasm.
It’s true that calling earlier than the date they said they’d get back to you, calling more than once a week, sounding like you’re eager to take any job as opposed to this one in particular, or generally appearing as if this is the only option you have, reeks of desperation and is counterproductive to your job search. However, expressing genuine interest in the job- by letting the hiring manager know you would really love to work for this company, for instance, or asking about the hiring timeline- is actually healthy. Potential employers are looking for passionate employees; indifference, real or feigned, is not attractive.
5. You’re overqualified, and you neglect to address it.
Like the proverbial elephant in the room, the degrees, certifications and years of experience that make you overqualified for a job are very obvious to you and every hiring manager who looks at your CV. Failure to acknowledge it will only send a wrong message. Potential employers may worry that you won’t find the job interesting or challenging enough. They may also be concerned that the salary will be too low for you, or even think that you don’t understand the position.
If you’re certain that this is the job you truly want regardless of your qualifications- the one that will have you springing out of bed on Monday morning- you need to state it loud and clear. Your interviewer needs to hear reassuring affirmations such as “I want to move into this industry, and I’m aware that I need to start at a lower level in order to do that.” Or, “At this stage in my career, having a job I enjoy is more important to me than salary. I have no problem earning less than I have in the past.”
6. The references you’ve listed are wrong for you, or for the job
References are not “people who care about me the most”. Your pastor, cousin and best friend, unless they’ve related with you in a professional capacity, can’t really help your job search much. Instead, go for people who are familiar with, and can answer questions about, your professional abilities and strengths, as well as your work ethic.
7. You simply do not have enough experience yet
Sometimes, you just have to pay your dues. And that’s not a bad thing. The experiences and skills you pick up from other jobs may just be what make the dream job all the more perfect when you finally clinch it. So keep working.