Trying to get a new job can sometimes seem like a Sisyphean task. Despite applying for perhaps dozens of roles, you're not getting any positive replies. Or maybe you've got to interview stage, but still aren't getting further.
So, could you be doing something wrong? Here are some of the most common mistakes people make when trying to nab that next role...
Employing the scattergun approach
It's a common approach to job hunting, but it's hard to get results with it. This is where you apply for scores of jobs advertised online with a scattergun approach and hope that you get a reply.
Instead, it can be a better idea to identify the companies you want to work for, research them thoroughly, connect with them on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter, find out where your talents will help businesses and target them accordingly with a speculative job application. After all, only around 20% of jobs are filled through ads posted online.
It's also a good idea to sign up to employment agencies, spread the word that you're job hunting amongst family and friends, and network like mad.
Your CV and cover letter aren't strong enough
I can't stress enough how important your CV is. If it doesn't make a great first impression and lay out why you'll be the perfect employee with concrete examples to back up your claims, you'll never get an interview. The same goes for your cover letter - just copying and pasting a generic one will get you nowhere.
It's vital that you tailor your CV and cover letter to every single job you apply for and cram them with relevant keywords.
Remember, it's not enough to drearily list what your responsibilities were in your job history - you've got to demonstrate what value you're going to bring in the future.
Sometimes, thinking outside the box to make your application really stand out can reap rewards too.
Welsh designer Andy Morris for example has just created a Lego version of himself which he's sending out with his CV to try and land his dream job.
There's more on what not to write on your CV here and how to write the perfect cover letter here. But in short, it takes time and effort every single time you craft both when applying for jobs.
There is absolutely no margin for error when it comes to CVs and cover letters, and it's pretty inexcusable when they're all easily corrected by a host of free online tools. Ideally, get someone else to proofread everything for you too before you send.
Check, check and check again when it comes to names, addresses, emails and telephone numbers too. It reflects badly on you if you're sloppy in applications, as it gives the impression you'll be a sloppy employee.
But what if you have followed all my CV and cover writing tips to the letter, got through to interview stage, but still haven't landed that job yet?
Here are some common interview errors...
Failure to prepare
Recruiters and interviewers are all too familiar with job candidates who looked great on paper but who were absolute disasters on interview. It's crucial to make the best possible impression.
If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Not rehearsing for interviews beforehand is simply setting yourself up for a fall.
Make sure you practice answering questions you know you're going to get asked, or else you'll waffle or worse, bore your interviewer.
More often than not, you'll be asked to tell them about yourself. Interviewers can't stand over-talkative candidates who drone on about the minutiae of their careers. Aim for responses that take no more than two to three minutes that perfectly encapsulate your background and talents with cast-iron examples and always answer questions directly with the job in mind. But avoid too much personal information - interviewers are allergic to TMI. You can role play all of this with a friend beforehand.
You've not communicated that you understand the role
It's a great idea to ask your interviewer whether you have correctly understood the job in question so that you can demonstrate your understanding of the role - which then gives you the opportunity to explain how your strengths will play to it.
They don't just want your sales pitch, they want to know that you truly understand the challenge at hand, and how you are going to tackle it.
Being negative about your current or past employers
Even if your last boss was a nightmare, you should always put a positive spin on any challenging experiences. Instead, you can turn any issues you might have had into challenges overcome and learning experiences.
Failure to follow up
Show how thorough and professional you are by emailing the relevant recruiter a week or so after sending your application to ensure they've received it. When it comes to post-interview follow ups, it's good to email the hiring managers a day afterwards to thank them for their time.
Hopefully, you'll be thanking me for these tips when a job offer finally comes through too!