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The 3 biggest mistakes job seekers make

Photo: Getty Images

Few people recognise the opportunities available in today’s short-commitment job market.

In her new book, The Perpetual Paycheck, employment attorney and coach Lori B. Rassas refers to today’s jobs environment as the “loyalty-free workplace” — reflecting the short-term and limited-term commitments between employer and employee.

While this scenario may seem unfavourable, Rassas says the absence of a mutual obligation creates unprecedented opportunities for advancement and growth.

Rassas says now is “the most perfect time to be in the job market”, but warns there are a few things people should not do if they’re trying to get hired.

If you want to land a job, Rassas says these are the three biggest mistakes to avoid.

Ignoring instructions when submitting your qualifications

Rassas says this is probably the most common mistake job seekers make.

“Time and again, hiring managers tell me about applicants who should have been shoe-in candidates, but were never even considered simply because they did not follow instructions,” she says in her book.

When applying for any position, Rassas says it’s important to provide everything that is requested.

Whether it’s a cover letter, writing sample or a list of references, be sure to include it and send it as instructed.

“If the directions say to send your application to a particular email address, don’t fax it, send it by overnight mail, or drop it off personally — email it,” Rassas says.

“The same goes for a job listing that says to send applications to a general mailbox. Even if someone in your network tells you to reach out to their hiring manager friend directly, cover your bases and do both. Otherwise, if you try to shortcut the process, you’ll end up derailing yourself.”

Emphasising the skills you have, but ignoring or minimising the skills you don’t

“Too many candidates believe that if they convince a prospective employer how strong they are in one aspect of the job, their weaknesses with regard to other requirements won’t matter,” Rassas says.

In the loyalty-free workplace, Rassas says this is a huge mistake.

“You should only target jobs that line up with your strengths.”

Focusing on what you think is important, regardless of whether it has anything to do with the task at hand

Rassas says employers today want the perfect fit — “nothing more, nothing less.”

“So, if you’re asked to provide a five-page writing sample, don’t send ten pages to show how much you know — stick to five,” she says.

“If a client wants a memo, don’t submit a memo along with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation. Not only are you complicating a simple task, you’re likely to annoy the employer (and hurt yourself in the process) by showing that you cannot follow instructions.”

Kassas adds that once upon a time, an otherwise highly skilled applicant could compensate for any weaknesses simply by saying that he or she “learns fast and can get up to speed quickly.”

That doesn’t work anymore.

“Most employers today won’t take the time or resources to train you for a position which you are not fully qualified. They’d just as soon move on to the next applicant until they find their Cinderella fit,” she says.

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