Don’t get penalized for these errors this job-hunt season.
Fall is here and football season is upon us! Across the United States, avid sports fans are organizing their tailgate parties and incessantly checking their Fantasy Football teams. Collegiate and professional athletes alike are giving it their all on the field, hoping to avoid a spotlight on ESPN SportsCenter’s Not Top 10. Playing football at this level requires hard work and dedication. Make one mistake and you could cost your team the game.
The same can be said about the job hunt. Don’t let a little mistake cost you a job offer. Learn from the football pros and avoid these job-search follies.
Neglecting Your Playbook
Legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once said, “It’s not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.” [tweet this] In football and the job search, preparation is the key to success. Before an interview, do your homework. Review the employer’s website and social media accounts and read that industry’s latest news articles to get a sense of the company’s culture and business. If you know someone who works at the company, set up an informational interview to get insider tips for the interview process. Prepare your elevator pitch based on the job description and practice your interview responses for the questions that make you most nervous. It’s much easier to be confident in an interview when you’re properly prepared.
Throwing Hail Marys
A Hail Mary is a football play made in desperation with a low probability for success, usually toward the end of a half when a team is out of range to score. Don’t succumb to similar last-ditch efforts in the job search, such as applying to jobs you’re unqualified for, disregarding social media etiquette and sending inappropriate messages to hiring managers, or mass emailing recruiters with a template message. These activities have a very small chance of success and are likely to damage your personal brand in the process. If your anxiety levels are hitting an all-time high, take a step back and re-evaluate your job-search strategy instead of resorting to Hail Marys.
Fumbling an Opportunity
Nothing’s worse than missing out on a great opportunity, whether you’re on the football field or in the job hunt. You only get one chance to make a first impression, so don’t ‘drop the ball’ when you’re networking and interviewing. Approach each opportunity with a confident and positive attitude, adjust your elevator pitch to suit the situation and audience, and make sure you follow up afterward. Connect with new contacts online and look for opportunities to pay it forward before asking for any favors. After an interview, send personalized thank-you notes to each person with whom you met.
Being a Johnny Manziel
If you’re a fan of college football, you’ve probably heard of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel. While Mr. Manziel is a very talented athlete, his antics on and off the field are damaging his personal brand and could hurt his NFL draft position. If you’re searching for a job, pay close attention to your personal brand. Don't bash your colleagues or employer online or during the interview process. Clean up your online presence and secure your personal social media accounts so recruiters won’t find them. Make sure the candidate employers find online matches the person they meet in person and on paper.
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Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.