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During COVID, a lot of people lost their jobs. And a lot of people are looking for new jobs that pay better. Here are the five biggest mistakes I see people making, over and over again.

1. “I’m looking for work!”

Ok, but what KIND of work? What are you good at? What was your previous job? Telling people you’re looking for work is about as helpful as telling a car salesman you’re looking for a “thing with wheels”.

I don’t care if you think your Facebook friends already know what you do, because the truth is, most of your contacts on social media probably have no idea what your skills are, or what you’ve done for work in the past.

So, be specific. In fact, be as specific as possible! Instead of announcing to the world that you’re looking for work, say something like:

“I’m looking for full-time work, in Toronto! Looking for work in inbound marketing, content marketing, or SEO. I have five years of experience in private industry. Comment or message me with any leads!”

That post tells me not to waste my time telling this person about a part-time job. (If you’re open to part-time work, say it!) Which leads me to my next point…

    2. Not being open to related work.

    There are times when an employer or a potential referrer might see your skills as being super valuable to them, in a related role. Let’s say your specialty is marketing, but someone you know thinks you’d be a good fit for a Business Analyst position at their company, there’s no harm in checking that out!

    While some people are too vague, some people are just too specific in their search for work. They think that because they’ve only done that one thing in the past, then they’re locked into that one thing for the future.

    Of course, if you already know you’d hate being a business analyst, then by all means, decline. But, open your horizons a bit. You might be surprised to see what you’re actually qualified to do!

    Pro tip: Google the words “transferable skills” to learn more about what that means, and how your current skillset might transfer over to different kinds of jobs!

     

    3. Educational requirements are often flexible.

    I say this as someone who competed in the job market with only a high school diploma under my belt. I’ve beat out candidates for posting that required a Masters degree. I’ve applied for, and gotten jobs that required a variety of industry certs.

    Don’t let educational requirements prevent you from applying for a job if you know you can offer the employer just as much, if not more, value than a highly educated counterpart.

    How do you do that? By ensuring your resume speaks to your real-world skills, your experience, and your work ethic. Chances are, someone fresh out of school can’t compete with ten years of real world experience. Employers know that, so if you don’t have the minimum education for a job, apply anyway and make your experience stand out!

     

    4. Searching locally, only.

    I have seen SO many Reddit posts from job hunters asking how to find remote jobs locally. And I’m having to remind them: “remote” means from away. In other words, change your search parameters to nation-wide. That’s how you find remote jobs.

    Also, if you’re flexible in terms of where to live, why not start looking outside your city? Most jobs are remote right now due to the pandemic, anyway. And, you might have a greater quality of life (and a higher wage) in a different town.

    We’re so used to looking locally, but if you’re looking for remote work, then expand your search. And make it known when you tell people you’re looking for a job. You never know who might have contacts within a company that’s hiring for remote work!

    5. Not customizing their resume

    Seriously. This has been the default way to send in resumes for decades. I used to teach adult high school in the early 2000’s and even back then, I was teaching students to customize their resume for each job application.

    How do you do that? You go through the list of what an employer is looking for in their job ad, and you match your resume to each of those points. For example, if they’re looking for experience with Java, then you make it a point in your resume to tell them about your experience with Java. That might be in a Skills section, but also in your work experience section.

    Yes, it’s tedious. Yes, it takes time. Yes, it would be easier to just send off a generic resume. As a former hiring manager, I’ll tell you this: if I saw a generic resume, it went to the trash. I didn’t even bother reading it. If you don’t have the time for me, then I don’t have the time for you.

    If you’re feeling impatient, then take a break. But, never send a generic resume UNLESS an employer is in a rush and specifically asks you for just a generic resume. That’s an exception to the rule, but it can happen, especially when a friend refers you for a job that’s closing soon!

     

    Success is just a series of best practices.

    Being successful at finding work is really just a series of best practices, put into play. Once you get the habits down pat, it’s actually not that hard to find a better job!

    And trust me, I could make a list of 20 mistakes people make when looking for work. But, if you can fix the ones I’ve listed above, then you’ll already be on your way to finding a new job that’s a better fit for you!

    Lastly, don’t forget to take a break. Panic and impatience might set in during a job hunt, and that will only cause you to make mistakes. Even worse, you’ll end up settling for a new job you hate. So, work diligently, but take a rest, and go play outside, too! Besides, a well rested person performs much better in interviews! 🙂