Monday, March 16, 2009

Three ways to sabotage your job search

Recruiter at Edwards Lifesciences tells what job seekers should do – and what mistakes to avoid.

Jennifer Hughes is a fortunate woman.

First of all, she has a job.

Second, her job is at Edwards Lifesciences, a company that's growing in the midst of an economy that's shrinking. It's also a company where employees proudly make life-saving heart valves.

Third, Hughes works as a recruiter for Edwards, so she gets to pick and choose from a growing pool of job seekers.

This year the company plans to add about 150 professional and 100 hourly jobs, mostly at its Irvine headquarters. At the same time, the slumping economy has boosted the company's total domestic job applicants by 250 percent, says Hughes, whose formal title at Edwards is senior global director for talent acquisition and leader development.

She recently took time out to provide a recruiter's eye view of what job seekers should do – and how some applicants sabotage themselves. Her advice is based on her nine years at Edwards and nearly 20 years of previous experience at Texas Instruments and related companies.

Mistake 1: Show your desperation

"A lot of people are feeling desperate now," Hughes says.

Yes, unpaid mortgage payments scare you. Yes, your retirement savings shriveled up like yesterday's road kill. Yes, you're counting down the weeks until your jobless benefits to run out.

But don't let it show. Employers can smell your fear, and they don't like that aroma.

What reputable employer wants to hire someone who's desperate?

Self-confident, talented, eager, reliable? Yes. Desperate? No.

For Hughes, desperation is easy to spot when workers make clear that they don't want a particular job, they want any job.

"People need to stay focused, not blanket their resumes all over the place," Hughes says.

But desperate people are now applying for lots of inappropriate jobs. People with 25 years as vice presidents try for jobs that require only three to five years' experience. Accountants apply for jobs as financial analysts, which they're under qualified for, or for clerks' positions, which they're overqualified for, Hughes says.

"Their personal brand gets tarnished," she says. Recruiters ask themselves, "What is this person looking to do?"

Mistake 2: Reuse your resume

You're impressed with your achievements, so you write them up in a fancy resume and include it with every job application.

What's wrong with that?

The problem is that, with your generic resume, your application stands a good chance of landing in the recycle bin.

The reason: It ignores the details of what the company is looking for.

In its job listings, a company uses specific words and phrases to describe the talents and experience that successful applicants will need. To fill those positions, recruiters look through piles of resumes and applications, seeking those words and phrases.

That's true whether the filtering is done by a person or by software that has been programmed to search that way.

"Humans tend to gravitate to what they're familiar with and the words they're looking for," Hughes says.

At least on a first pass, recruiters have no time to appreciate the fine points. They're overwhelmed with job applicants these days, so they use whatever techniques they can to winnow people out.

"Be specific. Use words that are in the job description," Hughes says. "Don't make the recruiter guess what you want to do,"

Other job-search experts make the same point.

For example, Jim Reyes, vice president of instruction at Career Search Academy, says, "The most common mistake is that job seekers don't customize their resume for each position they're applying for. Identify the top three 'must have' qualifications of the posting. Ensure your resume clearly lists these qualities."

Read Mistake #3 and the rest of the article -

No comments:

Post a Comment